Musicologie Médiévale

Resources for medieval musicology and liturgy

Medieval Greek Chant Theoretical Streams as Scholia on the Harmonica of Claudios Ptolemaios: The Online Sources

In the present blog I’ll try to avoid terminologies and elements of Greek chant that, for one with no intimacy with the subject -a Gregorianist for example – can be perceived as foreign, difficult and laborious to deal with; mainly something exotic that should be left to those devoted to (Latin and / or Greek) music theory. I am aware that it could appear as more “neutral” and “unbiased” if I chose to simply list the online sources, but I prefer to go into more detail, adding some comments in the end about modern vocabularies. Addressing Latin chant specialists about online sources of Musica Enchiriadis is, after all, more straight-forward than informing them about Greek chant theory stuff. Last but not least, those who still believe that “it’s all Greek” to them can enjoy the diagrams and the schemes of the MSS; some of them are really beautiful.


A small introduction


The earliest Byzantine MSS of ancient Greek music theory (below I give the links of about 130 online MSS from 11th century onwards) appear to us –believe it or not- only after the 11th century. The D-Heu: Cod. Pal. gr. 281 (Mathiesen, 1988 No 14 [=Math. 14]) is written on 14 January of 1040 (or 6548 W.E.). The other MSS of 11th and 12th centuries are I-Vnm: Gr. app. cl. VI/3 (coll. 1347) (Math. 270, Vitrac 2019 [=Vitrac] p. 142, Acerbi-Gioffreda 2019, p. 655), I-Vnm: Gr. 307 (coll. 1027) (Math. 261, Vitrac p. 142) and later I-Rvat: Gr. 2338 (Math. 234, Acerbi-Gioffreda 2019 Va [13th century], p. 661) with I-Vnm: Gr. app. cl. VI/10 (coll. 1300) (Math. 273, Düring 79 M, additionally the 14th century hand of Grēgoras has been identified [Bianconi 2005, p. 413 No 12, Acerbi 2016, p. 186, No 10, e.g. he added the numbers and titles of chapters of book I of Ptolemaios’s Harmonica, see also Vitrac, p. 66 and p. 142]). But for us it is important to know the relation of them (and of the later ones) to medieval music.

Indeed, some of the, for example, 13th and 14th century Greek manuscripts that contain the treatises of ancient musicographers (who go back to 4th century B.C.), are full of medieval scholia and paratextual diagrams (mainly on Claudios Ptolemaios’s Harmonica [2nd century A.D.]) about Greek chant theory; a good deal of them (especially those connecting ēchoi to the names Dōrios, Phrygios etc.) never published. But first, let us begin with a useful note which shall underline the importance of these relatively late sources about the modern prospects of medieval chant in general.

A pattern? The earlier the sources the later the socio-cultural entity


We do not have in our disposal – in contrast to Latin chant- any text of chant theory in Greek (excluding few ekphonetic signs lists) from the 1st millennium. But in the neumes table of M. Lavra Γ 67, f. 159r (10th / beginning 11th century) there is the following - not rudimentary- chant theory sentence: the voices are seven, but the ēchoi four, three mesoi, two phthorai and four plagioi, voice 1st, voice 2nd, voice 3rd, voice 4th, voice 5th, voice 6th, voice 7th, that is the “fin(e)-al” (τελεία, more economically in French: “fin-al,” a medieval Latin speaking scholar would tended to translate it with the meaning of perfect, David Cohen, “‘The imperfect Seeks Its Perfection’: Harmonic Progression, Directed Motion, and Aristotelian Physics,’’ Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 23, No. 2 [Autumn, 2001], p. 155 with n. 58 and 62). The, now conventionally named, Hagiopolitēs is a 14th century manuscript; we do not know how the 1st millennium appearance(s) of this treatise was. The first question is what happened and, given the cultural importance of medieval Jerusalem and New Rome, an earlier material didn’t reach us. As most people of M.M. know, the same question applies to the scarcity of indigenous sources from Old Rome before the Carolingian times [1*], not to mention theoretical treatises or even something like “primitive” considerations of – let us accept the linear phraseology for the moment – a not “full-fledged” Octoēchos. Rome was -and still continues frequently to be- thrown inferentially, together with any kind of material that “we” do not feel comfortable / understand, into the convenient box with the label “pre-theoretical period” (of exactly what and concerning whom?). The problematic on such speculations acquires even more importance if one thinks that we have MSS of Boethius’s De Institutione Musica already from 9th century – thanks to the preferences of the new Carolingian realm - and that the first Greek text of the Harmonica of Claudios Ptolemaios (who is quoted by Boethius) is appeared only in an above-mentioned 12th century MS (the MS Math. 273). Indeed, the sources that reached us [2*] didn’t appear in the past ex nihilo and / since, among others, they are the residues of many of historico-ideological sieves (like the issue of the existence of an Old Tropologion in Greek).


[1*] I am not referring here, of course, to the later notated sources of the so-called Old Roman chant.

[2*] Of disparate nature; as for the much better studied mathematical material see now, Vitrac, 2019, and for music already in Barbera’s edition of the Euclidean Division of the Canon (1991), especially pp. 104-111, see also p. 205 and n. 6 of my contribution to the 13th meeting of Cantus Planus (2006, here).


How music historiographies could be a projection to the past of modern conceptual frameworks


Let us now return to our subject. Surprisingly enough some of the above mentioned scholia / diagrams reflect, among others, Hagiopolitan music theory topics by quoting - and thus connecting them to - certain chapters of the Harmonica. One can assume that such an important material would attract the attention of the scholars of Byzantine chant of the 20th century, but this wasn’t the case and the aforesaid material remained a terra incognita. Why this happened is mainly the work of the ethnomusicologist of the future (here I give only some samples), but it is so amusing that Jorgen Raasted in his, “Quis Quid Ubi Quibus Auxilis… Notes on the transmission of the Hagiopolites,” Scriptorium 42-1 (1988), p.91 (Persée), passed just next to this Hagiopolitan material of Vat. gr. 192 since he referred to this MS but had not had the chance to consult it!

One can find such kind of information sporadically not in studies of Greek chant but in the book Ancient Greek Music Theory, by Thomas J. Mathiesen, RISM (BXI), 1988. In the bibliography (and mainly in the description of some MSS) Mathiesen gives information that there are interlineated and marginal scholia (extensively or not) mainly to the Harmonica of Ptolemaios and in some cases he understands that they have relation to Greek chant theory. Interestingly, he uses an atypical wording about the modern classification of Byzantine music theory in two classes (indeed, medieval reality appears to be more complex if one consults the MSS of ancient Greek music theory): “There are at least two major classes of Byzantine music theory, one dealing primarily with practical problems of musical notation and liturgical chant (the papadikai), and the other representing an archaicizing attempt to preserve ancient Greek music theory and philosophy and to apply it to Byzantine music theory” (emphasis mine). As a matter of fact the phrasing is not inaccurate if one recalls that even the earliest papadikai of the 14th century, report also a certain correlation of Dōrios Phrygios etc. with (i.e. apply them to) the numbering of the ēchoi in which, for example, the Lydios / Hypolydios is correlated to 2nd / pl.2nd ēchos respectively. Moreover, the papadikai system was also a product of intellectual (and “archaicizing”) effort (not only about the above mentioned correlation) [3*]. But for the above Mathiesen’s (1988) passage and his wider rationale and decisions see pp. xxx-xxxi (and about his hopes - some of them relative to our subject here - on p. xxxv-xxxvi). In my opinion, the high degree of isolation of these two frameworks in modern academia 1) on ancient Greek music and 2) on Greek (and other Eastern and Oriental) chant is the main reason that all this material remained unpublished, not catalogued and uncommented. A fitting analogy would be the scholia on Martianus Capella and Boethius having the same treatment. Adding to that is the seemingly established approach (based on our reconstructions) that Byzantine chant theory (whatever relation “had” this theory to actual practice) and ancient Greek music theory (whatever relation “had” this theory to actual practice) are treated as more separate entities in accordance to the degree of interaction they really had (especially after the documentation of the MSS of the 13th or 14th centuries we will see below). So this little presentation of online MSS is concerned with this “gray area” [4*] between the somewhat well-defined boarders of these two modern disciplines beginning the discussion with a primary selection of some online MSS just to realize the Byzantine chant status of affairs (or, the “accepted facts”) during the 20th century (and the first fifth of the 21st). The D. Touliatos-Banker, “Check List of Byzantine Musical Manuscripts in the Vatican Library,” Manuscripta. A Journal for Manuscript research 31 (1987) has to be seen under this paragraph’s prospect.


[3*] The exceptional use of a Hagiopolitan correlation in a papadikē would just demonstrate that a) in performance practice the results would be not of so much difference (at least, for us) and b) that all that theoretical effort and different streams was something important (for them), not only in terms of periphery-center.

[4*] As André Barbera, J.A.M.S., 43 2, 1990, p. 363 named it in his review of Mathiesen (1988) referring also to the importance of Vat. gr. 191 and connecting it, after A. Turyn of course, mainly to Maximos Planoudēs


N.B. A somehow exhaustive list of MSS, persons and scholia, given the problems of Düring’s edition of the Harmonica of Ptolemaios, could be possible only after a real critical edition of this text (Mathiesen, 1988, p. xxxiv and 2000, p. 432) and the inclusion of further paleographical studies (especially after the identification of the inks via spectral imaging) of the relative MSS. But the progress already made in the last few decades is of remarkable importance and any kind of skepticism based on the latest or future technologies (implying that the current state is not “convincing enough”) would be unfair, only alluding on supposed “neutrality” and an absence of “bias” and “ideology” of the wo/man who expresses such skepticism. The field is continuously being studied, with new additions being published; regarding earlier “codicological and palaeographic units” of the MSS we are dealing with, see now F. Acerbi-A. Gioffreda, “Harmonica membra disjecta,” Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies 59 4, Winter 2019 [=Acerbi-Gioffreda 2019] (here), accessed 24 November 2019. And one can also add the Mathiesen’s (1992) “Hermes or Clio…” (here), especially on p. 4 (on Why and How these treatises survived), p. 7 and pp. 14-15 with n. 22.

Below, slowly but surely, I have advanced my older work on the subject by giving a selection of eight MSS that include Greek chant information mainly on two - and occasionally on more - chant related topics i.e., α) on the I.16 of Ptolm. Harm. i.e., concerning the medieval use of equal diatonic genre and β) on the II.10 of Ptolm. Harm. i.e., concerning the correlation of Dōrios Phrygios etc. with the numbering of the ēchoi.

Eight online MSS with Greek chant information


I-Vat: Gr. 191 (Math. 214 [13th], Dür. 64 W [13th /14th], Acerbi 2016 p. 195, Vitrac [1296-1298] p. 145)

Content and Bibliographic References and at Pinakes (here)


According to Ingemar Düring, the editor of Harmonica (1930), it is stemming from the m-class and gives rise to the recension of its own subclass [W]. This is one of the most studied codices in relation to the included astronomical and mathematical material. Importantly, in some scholia the hand (the revisoris manus R of A. Turyn) of the intellectual and deacon Ioannēs Pothos Pediasimos recently has been identified (Pérez Martín, 2010) and he “assembled, and annotated at least between 1296 and 1302/3 the early Palaiologan mathematical encyclopaedia in Vat. gr. 191” (Acerbi 2016, p. 183 No. 3). His hand is also responsible for some crucial chant related scholia, within Harmonica, and a small theoretical text just after it. What, at first glance, we have here is:

α) As far as Ptol. Harm. I.16 (entitled, in Jon Solomon’s tr.: How Many and Which Genera Are More Familiar to the Hearing), on f. 331r, there is not any remarkable marginal or interlinear scholion in connection to equal diatonic.

β) Referencing to II.10 of Harmonica, on f. 340r, there is one extra correlation of the names Dōrios Phrygios etc. with the ordinals (and additionally, here, to the martyriai [modal signatures]) of the ēchoi. This correlation was the most proximate to the more widespread of the Latin chant and is different to the Hagiopolitan and the one of the Bryennios’s stream. I transliterate and provisionally translate in English:


Dōrios (is the name of) the 1st ēchos, Phrygios the 2nd, Lydios the 3rd, Mixolydios the 4th, Hypodōrios the plagios of the 1st, Hypophrygios the plagios of the 2nd, Hypolydios the plagios of the 3rd, that is the Varys, Hypomixolydios the plagios of the 4th. Ptolemaios, not properly (?!), says that the ēchoi of them are seven. And other people, speaking nonsense, name them otherwise. (emphasis mine, then follows the same nomenclature and the relative martyriai, I transliterate:)

Picture 1

The pneumata (spirits) are four, hypsilē, chamēlē, kentēma and elaphron, because we are in need of pneuma (both) for ascending and descending.


The tension in the wording is indicative of the tension among personalities of the time. Here most probably it is the monk Maximos Planoudēs (his friend Manuēl Bryennios and the historian and deacon George Pachymerēs represent the same ēchoi correlation stream [see them on f.101v of the autograph of Pachymerēs I-Ra: Gr. 38, not included in Math.]) that is implied to “speaking nonsense.” Remind also that –not only- in Hagiopolitēs the “schemes of diapason” are not numbered, as I wrote some years before, here in M.M., in the ancient way from 1 to 7 but from 2 to 8 (the online MSS that contain this form of Anōnymos III passage are: [Math. 87=] F-Pn: Gr. 2458 68r-v, [Math. 89=] F-Pn: Gr. 2460 27v, F-Pn: [Math. 95=] Gr. 2532  82r-v, [Math. 219=] I-Vat: Gr. 221 pp. 388, [Math. 230=] I-Vat: Gr. 1364 f. 134v, [Math. 238=] I-Vat: Barb. gr. 265 p. 458, [Math. 253=] I-Vat: Ross. gr. 977 pp. 178-179 and of course its ρ recension, the Hagiopolitēs MS F-Pn: Gr. 360 f. 229v together with the EG-MSsc: Gr. 1764, f. 94r-v [the very last MS, numbered 299, that Mathiesen decided to include in his Catalogue]). Vincent (p.224) already at 1847 realized that there is an interesting variation here and, reasonably, felt the need of an explanation.

Additionally, we have a totally unknown and unpublished small theoretical chant text on f. 359v, just after the Harmonica, with strong affinity, even in wording, to Pseudo-Damaskēnos [=Ps-D] text. Thus, we can legitimately label it as proto-pseudodamaskēnos and it is also important for the “pre-history” of Ps-D. The earliest testimony of the latter belongs to the 15th century. I provisionally translate the half of the whole text, in order to understand some of its content. It is also interesting regarding modern phraseologies about Latin chant in which we see terms like sign and neume. The relative concordances to Ps-D are given in parentheses as its editors did not use at all this early (as far as the Byzantine chant) text:


The principal (κύριοι) tonoi (are) ison, oligon and apostrophos (Ps-D 42-43): oxeia and petastē (are) so-called tonoi because they (are) dominated and diminished (συστέλλονται) (Ps-D 44) by the ison: as tonoi (are) called also the compound (σύνθετα) signs (contra [?] in Ps-D 49), but signs (σημάδια) (are) called when they are placed and written, and tonoi when they are sung (Ps-D 50-51):-

Ēchos and melos are different, because ēchos precedes melos (Ps-D 79-80), and there is not melos without ēchos, but ēchos exists without melos, and the ēchos always begins with the ison, but the melos begins with tonos and pneuma (spirit):

Psalm (is) melody with the use of a musical instrument, but Ōdē (is) the one with the use of mouth and without an instrument (Ps-D 85-88). The tonoi (are) fifteen since the (main) frets / bridges [5*] in Music are fifteen (Ps-D 152-153), and Ptolemaios said all these:-...


And then continues with another categorization of the 24 signs.

That means that the above text, one of the oldest best dated complete [6*] treatises of Greek chant, is not found in a papadikē and the like “church” MSS, as most people would expect, but just next to Ptolemaios, in a MS of ancient Greek music theory! This is an example of how “innocent” prospects predispose modern narrative as well as… findings.

Of the other online subclasses of Harmonica’s m-class we have 1) the E i.e., I-Vat: Gr. 186 (Math. 210, Vitrac p. 145, 13th c.), 2) the I-Vat: Pal. gr. 60 (Math. 242, Vitrac p. 165, where we see for α) the “softer of the intense diatonic” together with “equal diatonic” in the same scheme on f. 16r [like BNF gr. 2450, see below] and for β) ēchoi and enēchēmata (the intonation syllables of the ēchoi), on f. 26r in the order of Bryennios / Grēgoras) and 3) the 13th century I-Vat: Pal. gr. 95 (Math. 243, Dür. 73 13th/14th century, Pinakes [here]) of the M subclass.


[5*] Καβάλια / kavália (or καβάλλια / kavállia in Hagiopolitēs, as well as κάβαλα / kávala in other sources of Ps-D), in the edition of Ps-D a not good reading is adopted: kavála, see MS Dionysiou 570, 8r; best translation in French: chevalet (=almost a transliteration). In modern Greek something like καβαλάρηδες or better γέφυρες / περντέδες (from Ottoman-Turkish perde).

[6*] Complete, because there was plenty of space - in this initially blank page- for Pediasimos to continue to write if there was more text to add, but he didn’t. This text is not like 1) the (one) question-(one) answer material of the MS RUS-SPsc: Gr. 495, ff. 1v-4v, or 2) collections of en-ēchēmata (in-tonation formulas of the ēchoi) (here) without theoretical text, or 3) neumes material like F-Pn: Gr 260 ff. 253v or even 4) the dated 1289 F-Pn: Gr. 261 ff. 139v-140r that includes headings, and on f. 140v we have the oldest testimony - in the form of a “table”- of the widespread nomenclature of the papadikai. Here is not the place to discuss these –and more- cases (and their one by one labeling).


I-Vat: Gr. 192 (Math. 215 [13th], Dür. 65 V [13th /14th], Vitrac p. 145 [second half of 13th century])

Bibliographic References and at Pinakes (here)


This is a “mathematical miscellany” stemming from the m-class that gives rise to the recension of Düring’s subclass labeled V. It seems that this MS is the immediate (not entirely in chronological terms) predecessor of Vat. gr. 191 and unfortunately, it didn’t acquire so much –and not only - paleographical attention like that until now (consider e.g., the above Bibliographic References where some 11 works are sited in relation to the 116 for the Vat. gr. 191). As far as the content there are learned scholia written within and after the Harmonica linking it to the Hagiopolitan theoretical tradition of the Greek chant. But in this case we have one personality that published such an important material of scholia. He was the French polymath Théodore Reinach (1860-1928) in his - more than a century before – “Fragments Musicologiques Inédits,” Revue des Études Grecques, Tome X, No 39, July-September 1897, pp. 313-327 (Persée). Reinach transcribed and commented the theoretical texts / diagrams found - only after - the main texts of the MS Vat. gr. 192, leaving aside the scholia within the Harmonica. I will not elaborate, for the moment, on Reinach’s work. In relation to Greek chant and Ptolemaios we have the α) on f. 201v (and f. 223 [here there is only the name of “softer of the intense diatonic,” on that, see the next MS below] i.e., two times) and the β) on f. 225v (a scheme using whole tones and leimmata and in an name-order that Bryennios’s stream inverts in an absolute manner) respectively. Terms like mesos, phthora, enēchēmata, epēchēmata and apēchēmata and a trochos like scheme on f. 227r are found.

Other online MSS of this subclass [V] of Harmonica are F-Pn: Gr. 2451 (Math. 80) and F-Pn: Gr. 2453 (Math. 82).


F-Pn: Coislin gr. 173 (Math. 103 [15th], Dür. 51 [14th], see Acerbi 2016, p. 151, Vitrac p.154 [first half of 14th]) see also: Notice rédigée par Anne Lapasset, Fevrier 2015 (here) and at Pinakes (here)


On f.1 there is a possession note of the Megistē Lavra monastery at Mount Athos / Greece. Christos Terzēs in his edition of Dionysios (Athens, 2010, p. 115*) believes that the hands had not been identified (quoting Mathiesen, 1988) and that the MS is produced in Mount Athos. As far as the Harmonica the text belongs to Düring’s g-class that represents the recension of Nicēphoros Grēgoras (ca. summer 1293/June 1294 - 1358/1361 [after Divna Manolova’s Dissertation, Budapest, 2014,]). Indeed, “concerning the musical treatises, I-Vat.: Gr. 198 [Math. 218, Vitrac p. 146] is an apograph of Paris gr. 173” (Acerbi 2016, p.160). Note among Grēgoras’s autograph scholia (Bianconi, 2005, p. 415, No 25), the partly autograph one at the beginning of Harmonica on f. 32r (B. Mondrain, “Maxime Planoude, Nicéphore Grégoras et Ptolémée,” Palaeoslavica 10, 2002, p. 321 n.26).

α) On f.58r as scholion to I.16 of Harmonica. Here Ptolemaios begins accepting that the diatonic genera in general are more familiar to hearing than the enharmonic and the soft chromatic and continues extensively with the equal diatonic genus. Then he presents some other genera and their tunings / positions in musical instruments, and finally, he “can hardly fail to accept” the ditonal diatonic (roughly saying, the one using semitones and whole tones). But, since the “equal diatonic is a logical modification [and “more even / ὁμαλώτερον”] of the intense diatonic” (Mathiesen, 2000, pp. 450-451) the scheme here, together with “equal diatonic,” gives another title - referencing the position (numbers 24 to 18) – to it, this is the “softer of the intense diatonic”; thus uses the same ratios! The naming of the equal diatonic as (and its connection to) softer (μαλακώτερον, see also in Ptolm. Harm. I.12.28ff.) of the intense diatonic, has important consequences for the use of equal diatonic in the theory and the actual musical praxis in medieval times. A variation of this scheme exists also in the next F-Pn: Gr. 2540 (and I shall transliterate that form there).

β) On f. 74v, in relation to II.10, a scheme is given with the correlations of Dōrios Phrygios etc. with the ēchoi, their enēchēmata and the four phthorai. This correlation, at first glance, is the same as the tradition of Bryennios i.e, the prōtos ēchos is placed at the highest position (Hypermixolydios). For the moment, I have not any definitive opinion if it is exactly the same system as the one of Bryennios since we know that Grēgoras’s work consisted of, more or less, a new “adjustment” of the ancient material in order “to save the phenomena.” Here is a transliterated form of that diagram:

 Picture 2

See also the trochos like schemes on ff. 110v-111r.

Other online MSS of this Grēgoras’s recension of Harmonica are: GB-Ob: Bar. gr. 124 (Math. 134), F-Pn: Coislin gr. 336 (Math. 105), and F-Pn: Gr. 2456 (Math. 86) (from [?, Math. p. 226] I-Vat.: Gr. 2365 [Math. 235]), I-Rvat: Pal. gr. 389 (Math. 245), I-Rvat: Pal. gr. 390 (Math. 246).


F-Pn: Gr. 2450 (Math. 79 [14th], Dür. 42 [14th /15th], Acerbi 2016 p. 152, [about 1335], Vitrac p.157 [about 1335]) see also: Notice rédigée par Anne Lapasset, Fevrier 2015 (here) and at Pinakes (here).


According to Düring’s Harmonica edition the text of this MS belongs to the gp-subclass that stems from the main Grēgoras’s g-class. Is this a representation of a separate choice (to the degree Düring’s classes are reliable), in relation to the text / content, of (or someone close to) him? His hand is identified in some scholia of the ff. 57r, 59r, 71v, 72v, 73r. (Pérez Martín, 2008). As far as the schemes in relation to Greek chant the α) and the β) of F-Pn: Gr. 173 are found on 32r (in a different form but “better” as for our understanding) and 53r (again in Bryennios’s order) respectively. A transliterated form of that 32r diagram is the following:

Picture 3  

See also the trochos like scheme on 89v.

Other online MSS that belong to the gp recension of Harmonica are I-Vat: Gr. 221 (Math. 219, ēchoi, phthorai and enēchēmata on p. 106), I-Vat: Barb. gr. 265 (Math. 238, ēchoi, phthorai and enēchēmata on p. 138) that we’ve already met and note the transcription of Ismaël Boulliau (in 1656), in F-Pn: Sup. gr. 292 (Math. 111).


F-Pn : Coislin gr. 172 (Math. 102 [15th], Dür. 50 [14th /15th], Vitrac [14th /15th] p.154) see also: Notice rédigée par Anne Lapasset, Mars 2015 (here) and at Pinakes (here).


It is somewhat posterior to the aforementioned F-Pn: Coislin gr. 173, but this time its Harmonica, according to Düring, belongs to his f-class stemming from D-Mbs: Cod. gr. 361a (Math. 22 [13th-16th], Dur. 28 [13th-16th], see Vitrac p. 153, Acerbi-Gioffreda 2019 Mo, [2nd half of 13th century] p. 659). Again, is this a representation of one more separate choice, in relation to the text / content, of (or someone close to) Grēgoras? The relative scheme of α) is found on f. 13r (with no reference to “softer of the intense diatonic”). Note the diagrams on ff. 17r-18v on dynamis and thesis phenomena in relation to Ptolem. Harm. II.5-6.

There is another online MS that belongs to f-class the I-Vat: Barb. gr. 257 (Math. 237).


I-Vat: Gr. 187 (Math. 211 [14th], Dür, 61 [14th], Vitrac [14th] p. 145)

Bibliographic References and at Pinakes (here)


This is a MS that represents the circle of the monk Barlaam the Calabrian as the I-Vat: Gr. 196 (Math. 217 [14th], Dür, 66 [14th], Vitrac p. 146 [14th]) and F-Pn: Gr. 2452 [Math. 82]). Note the diagrams on ff. 32r, 34v and 35r on thesis and dynamis phenomena in relation to Ptolem. Harm. II.5-6.


I-Vat: Gr. 176 (Math. 208 [14th], Dür. 58 [14th], Vitrac [14th] p. 145)

Bibliographic References, and Pinakes (here).


Acerbi (2016, p. 173) notes: “A further recension of Harmonica was redacted by Isaac Argyros, whose fair copy is preserved (but recall that Argyros was used to correct in scribendo) in the autograph Vat. Gr. 176, ff. 101r-159v.” It is the A-subclass of Grēgoras’s g-class but this time “favoring the readings of the f-class” (Mathiesen 2000, p. 431).

The other online MS that belong to the same reduction of Harmonica is the F-Pn: Sup. gr. 449 (Math. 114).


F-Pn: Sup. gr. 1101 (not in Math., A. Gastoué 70 [14th]) See a description (here) and Pinakes (here)


The MS contains mainly the early translations of Maximos Planoudēs into Greek of Boethius’s, De Consolatione Philosophiae, Cicero’s, Somnium Scipionis and Macrobius’s Commentary on it and other material. But importantly enough for us, at the last folia, there are music related schemes on 162r, 163v, 164r and 165v. Also another small music related scholion on 137r. On 162r we see the correlation of ēchoi with the Dōrios Phrygios etc. in the order of Bryennios / Grēgoras (ie. prōtos ēchos placed in the position of Hypermixolydios) and a trochos like diagram; compare it with two small schemes in the later F-Pn: Gr. 2339 f.59v. On f. 163v there is a scheme of the 7- and 8-stringed lyres of Hermēs (or Orpheus in other MSS) and Pythagoras respectively. See them in F-Pn: Gr. 2339 f. 60v, and, together with Bryennios’s MSS, on f. 47r of Pachymerēs’s aforementioned autograph I-Ra: Gr. 38).


A note on modern classifications and vocabularies


Indeed, why 20th century people didn’t “see” all this set of sources of Ptolemaios with their relative to Byzantine chant material and why the studies for chant wasn’t so decisive as the other disciplines (especially for the medieval Greek MSS on mathematics, see Vitrac, 2019, 6.B, p. 48 and 7.B, p. 59)? A possible answer of mine is already known to the list of Μ.Μ.: “we” “see” only what we have pre-theorized to see or more simply, when two people look at the same direction (and set of things) they do not acknowledge (and taxonomize) the same phenomena, although ‘all of them’ are there. Think of the results if they look at different directions….

And some final notes on the grand narrative of the society, the time and our vocabulary remembering Christian Troelsgård’s, “Ancient Musical Theory in Byzantine Enviroments,” Cahiers de l’Institute du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin 56 (1988), (here) in p. 229 where he writes: “On the other hand we find an increasing interest [7*] in copying, exerpting and commenting on the remains of ancient theory [are we sure that there wasn’t an – perhaps even more – “increasing interest” before?]. It is an accepted fact that these activities were centered around two different milieus in Byzantine society, the church [7*] on the one side and the scholarly circles of quadrivial study [7*] on the other. But I think there are some very important points or area of contact and interaction between these milieus.” And also, in the concluding p. 237, he speaks of “… the interaction between the two hemispheres [7*] of the musical culture of Byzantium. They imply that the Byzantines took a far more active and dynamic interest in the ancient musical theory than usually accepted.”

In my view, and after what we saw here, we can speak of an even far more active and dynamic interest in the ancient Greek theory and this, not only because we added the Harmonica, the main sholiated treatise in relation to chant.

But as it becomes obvious, the issue isn’t exactly the potential infinite discussions (past or future) on a degree of interaction of “two” domains. All these medieval theoretical constructions in this kind of sources are related to the everyday ecclesiastical music of the ordinary – differentiating, case by case, on degree of knowledge- faithful people (and psaltes). In contrast with other branches of knowledge, like Geometry or Arithmetic (with problems that sometimes still a modern wo/man, can’t understand), the ecclesiastical music circles or “parties” of people (recorded by the sources [remember the “many people” / πολλοì of Bryennios]), give us an idea about our narrative on the structure of that world. These intellectuals weren’t debating as isolated personalities because, among others, they had a vision about their society as a whole. I ask and explain: in our mind, where do we have to place an intellectual? Over, next to, in parallel or among ordinary people? Especially if we remember the other similar ecclesiastical case of theological debates among highly educated people (we met some of them already above) like Barlaam, Grēgoras, and others, not music related figures, like Grēgorios Palamas etc. who were also supported by their (larger or smaller) circles or “parties.”

Last but not least, referring to the current vocabulary (I will not criticize, for the moment, nation-centered vocabularies here in Greece) used on music related issues of the time: a generalized view of “church” and “scholarly circles of quadrivial study” would be misleading [8*] since a lot of the personalities (belonged to all the theoretical streams) we are dealing of were highly educated clerics, monks etc. And again, we have the same problematic with the “theoretical hemispheres.” In which MSS, who is theorizing, at what music(s) exactly? Are there more than two interacted “spheres” (including their “middle grounds,” a] and b], as I described them in my above given paper, pp. 217-218), thus not “hemispheres,” that we have to use in the narrative of the earlier or later medieval chant?


[7*] This is not a comment on what (and when) meant by “increasing interest,” “scholarly circles of quadrivial study,” “church” etc. as I have no intention to interfere in any kind of interpretation of “what the X scholar means,” but I make use of this quotation in order to express my skepticism – separately- on the use of certain terms.                 

[8*] Giving room even to potential polarization and not interaction, in other words, this could be a case of ‘glass half empty and glass half full’ within the same proposition.



Acerbi, Fabio. “Funzioni e modalità di transmissione delle notazioni numeriche nella trattatistica mathematica Greca: Due esempi paradigmatici.” Segno e Testo 11 (2013). (

----------------. “Byzantine recensions of Greek mathematical and astronomical texts: A survey.” Estudios Bizantinos 4 (1016). (

Bianconi, Daniele. “La biblioteca di Cora tra Massimo Planude e Niceforo Gregora. Una Questione di mani.” Segno e Testo 3 (2005).

----------------.“La controversia palamitica. Figure, libri e mani.” Segno e Testo 6 (2008). (

Düring, Ingemar (ed). Die Harmonielehre des Klaudios Ptolemaios. Göteborg, 1930.

Gastoué, Amédée. Catalogue des manuscrits de musique Byzantine de la Bibliothèque de Paris et des Bibliothèques publiques de France. Paris, 1907. (

Mathiesen, Thomas. Ancient Greek Music Theory. A catalogue raisonné of manuscripts (RISM, B XI). München, 1988.

---------------. Apollo's Lyre : Greek music and music theory in antiquity and the Middle Ages.Lincoln and London, 2000.

Mondrain, Brigitte. "Les écritures dans les manuscrits byzantins du XIVè siècle." Rivista di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici (2008).

Pérez Martín, Inmaculada, “El estilo Hodegos y su proyección en las escrituras constantinopolitanas.” Segno e Testo 6 (2008). (

----------------. “L’ecriture de l’hypatos Jean Pothos Pédiasimos d’après ses scholies aux Elementa d’ Euclide.” Scriptorium 64 (2010). (Persée) and (

Ruelle, Charles-Émile. Études sur l’ancienne musique grecque. Paris, 1875. (BSBdigital)

Turyn, Alexandrer. Codices Graeci Vaticani saeculis XIII et XIV scripti annorumque notis instructi. Citta del Vaticano, 1964.

Vincent, Alexandre Joseph Hidulphe. Notice sur divers manuscrits Grecs relatifs à la musique. Paris, 1847. (Gallica)

Vitrac, Bernard. “Quand? Comment? Pourquoi les textes mathématiques grecs sont-ils parvenus en Occident?” (, April 2019, accessed 29 November 2019.

Wolfram, Gerda – Hannick, Christian (eds). Die Erotapokriseis des Pseudo-Johannes Damaskenos zum Kirchengesang. Vienna, 1997.


The links of the online MSS that has relation to the Harmonica of Claudios Ptolemaios are given above, together with a small description of some of them, since this is the treatise that medieval Greek speaking theorists scholiated the most in connection to chant theory. The other online MSS of ancient Greek musicographers I have located so far are the following (the MSS links that have already given in the above text are just referred to below with no link):



Wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

A-Wn: Cod. Phil. gr. 64 (Math. 2), A-Wn: Cod. Phil. gr. 176 (Math. 5, Vitrac p.194).



Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek

D-Heu: Cod. Pal. gr. 281 (Math. 14), D-Heu: Cod. Pal. gr. 415 (Math. 15).

Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek

D-Leu: Rep. I 2 (Math. 39).

München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

D-Mbs: Cod. gr. 104 (Math. 17, Vitrac p.179), D-Mbs: Cod. gr. 301 (Math. 21, Vitrac p.180), D-Mbs: Cod. gr. 385 (Math. 23, Vitrac p.180), D-Mbs: Cod. gr. 403 (Math. 24, Vitrac p. 180), D-Mbs: Cod. gr. 418 (Math. 25), D-Mbs: Cod. gr. 487 (Math. 26).

Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek

D-W: Cod. Guelf. 3 Gud. gr. (Math. 29, Vitrac p.195).



Madrid, Bibliotheca Nacional

E-Mn: Gr. 4621 (Math. 57, together with C. Laskarēs the codex has a relation to Sultan Cem), E-Mn: Gr. 4625 (Math. 58), E-Mn: Gr. 4678 (Math. 59), E-Mn: Gr. 4690 (Math. 60), E-Mn: Gr. 4692 (Math. 61).



Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Fonds Grec

F-Pn: Gr. 1671 (Math. 66), F-Pn: Gr. 1672 (Math. 67), F-Pn: Gr. 1806 (Math. 68, Vitrac p.185), F-Pn: Gr. 1819 (Math. 70, Vitrac p.185) F-Pn: Gr. 1820 (Math. 71, Vitrac p.185), F-Pn: Gr. 2013 (Math. 72), F-Pn: Gr. 2014 (Math. 73, Vitrac p.185), F-Pn: Gr. 2379 (Math. 74, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr. 2381 (Math. 75), F-Pn: Gr. 2397 (Math.-, Vitrac p.188) F-Pn: Gr. 2430 (Math. 77, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr. 2449 (Math. 78), F-Pn: Gr. 2450 (Math. 79), F-Pn: Gr 2451 (Math. 80, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr 2452 (Math. 81, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr 2453 (Math. 82, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr. 2454 (Math. 83, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr. 2455 (Math. 84), F-Pn: Gr 2456 (Math. 85, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr. 2458 (Math. 87), F-Pn: Gr. 2459 (Math. 88, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr. 2460 (Math. 89, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr. 2461 (Math. 90, Vitrac p.157), F-Pn: Gr. 2462 (Math. 91), F-Pn: Gr. 2463 (Math. 92), F-Pn: Gr. 2464 (Math. 93), F-Pn: Gr. 2531 (Math. 94, Vitrac p.189), F-Pn: Gr. 2532 (Math. 95), F-Pn: Gr. 2533 (Math. 96), F-Pn: Gr. 2534 (Math. 97), F-Pn: Gr. 2535 (Math. 98, Vitrac p.188), F-Pn: Gr. 2549 (Math. 99), F-Pn: Gr. 2622 (Math. 100), F-Pn: Gr. 3027 (Math. 101, Vitrac p.190).

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Fonds Coislin

F-Pn: Coislin 172 (Math. 102), F-Pn: Coislin 173 (Math. 103), F-Pn: Coislin 174 (Math. 104, Vitrac p.154), F-Pn: Coislin 336 (Math. 105, Vitrac p.185).

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Fonds Supplément Grec

F-Pn: Sup. gr. 20 (Math. 106), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 59 (Math. 107, Vitrac p.190), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 160 (Math. 108), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 195 (Math. 109, Vitrac p.190), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 213 (Math. 110, Vitrac p.190), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 292 (Math. 111, Vitrac p.190), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 335 (Math. 112, Vitrac p.190), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 336 (Math. 113, Vitrac p.190), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 449 (Math. 114, Vitrac p.190), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 450 (Math. 115, Vitrac p.190), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 1101 (Math. -).



London, British Library

GB-Lbm: Harley gr. 5691 (Math. 128), GB-Lbm: Additional 19353 (Math. 130, Vitrac p.175).

Oxford, Bodleian Library

GB-Ob: Barocci gr. 41 (Math. 133, Vitrac p.182), GB-Ob: Barocci gr. 124 (Math. 134, Vitrac p.182).

Oxford, Magdalen College Library

GB-Omc: Magdalen Col. gr. 12 (Math. 150), GB-Omc: Magdalen Col. gr. 13 (Math. 151, Vitrac p.184).



Bologna, Biblioteca Universitaria

I-Bu: Gr. 2048, v.1 (Math. 154, Vitrac p.162), I-Bu: Gr. 2048, v.2 (Math. 155, Vitrac p.162), I-Bu: Gr. 2048, v.5 (Math. 156, Vitrac p.162), I-Bu: Gr. 2280 (Math. 157, Vitrac p.162), I-Bu: Gr. 2432 (Math. 158, Vitrac p.162), I-Bu: Gr. 2700 (Math. 159).

Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana

I-Fl: Ms Plut.28.11 (Math. 160), I-Fl: Ms Plut.28.12 (Math. 161), I-Fl: Ms Plut.56.1 (Math. 162), I-Fl: Ms Plut.58.29 (Math. 163, Vitrac p. 151), I-Fl: Ms Plut.59.1 (Math. 164), I-Fl: Ms Plut.80.5 (Math. 165), I-Fl: Ms Plut.80.21 (Math. 166), I-Fl: Ms Plut.80.22 (Math. 167), I-Fl: Ms Plut.80.30 (Math. 168), I-Fl: Ms Plut.86.3 (Math. 169).

Napoli, Biblioteca Nazionale

I-Nn: Gr. 261 (f. 53r, Math. 202, Vitrac p. 153).

Roma, Biblioteca Angelica

I-Ra: Gr. 35 (Math. 205), I-Ra: Gr. 101 (Math. 206).

Citta del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

I-Rvat: Gr. 139 (Math. 207), I-Rvat: Gr. 176 (Math. 208), I-Rvat: Gr. 186 (Math. 210, Vitrac p. 145), I-Rvat: Gr. 187 (Math. 211), I-Rvat: Gr. 191 (Math. 214), I-Rvat: Gr. 192 (Math. 215), I-Rvat: Gr. 196 (Math. 217), I-Rvat: Gr. 198 (Math. 218), I-Rvat: Gr. 221 (Math. 219, Vitrac p.166), I-Rvat: Gr. 1013 (Math. 221), I-Rvat: Gr. 1033 (Math. 222), I-Rvat: Gr. 1048 (Math. 225, Vitrac p.167), I-Rvat: Gr. 1060 (Math. 226), I-Rvat: Gr. 1364 (Math. 230, Vitrac p.167), I-Rvat: Gr. 1374 (Math. 231), I-Rvat: Gr. 2338 (Math. 234), I-Rvat: Gr. 2365 (Math. 235, Vitrac p.168), I-Rvat: Barb. gr. 257 (Math. 237), I-Rvat: Barb. gr. 265 (Math. 238, Vitrac p.164), I-Rvat: Barb. gr. 278 (not in Math.), I-Rvat: Ottob. gr. 372 (Math. 237), I-Rvat: Pal. gr. 53 (Math. 241), I-Rvat: Pal. gr. 60 (Math. 242, Vitrac p.165), I-Rvat: Pal. gr. 95 (Math. 243), I-Rvat: Pal. gr. 303 (Math. 244, Vitrac p.165), I-Rvat: Pal. gr. 389 (Math. 245, Vitrac p.165), I-Rvat: Pal. gr. 390 (Math. 246, Vitrac p.165), I-Rvat: Pal. gr. 392 (Math. 247), I-Rvat: Reg. gr. 80 (Math. 248), I-Vat: Ross. 977 (Math. 253, Vitrac p.165), I-Vat: Ross. 986 (Math. 254), I-Vat: Urb. gr. 78 (Math. 256, Vitrac p.166), I-Vat: Urb. gr. 99 (Math. 257).

Venezia, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana

I-Vnm: Gr. app. cl. VI/3 (coll. 1347).



Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket

S-Uu: Gr. 45 (Math. 292, Vitrac p.193), S-Uu: Gr. 47 (Math. 293, Vitrac p.193), S-Uu: Gr. 52 (Math. 294, Vitrac p.193).



New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript

US-NHub: MS 208 (f.30v, Math. 295)



Mount Sinai, St. Catherine’s Monastery

EG-MSsc: Gr. 1764 (Math. 299).

Additionally, a small collection of online MSS of BNF that include medieval music theory (some of them referred to in Vincent [1847]) is given below although I didn’t include, for example, all the Pachymerēs, Pediasimos etc. music related MSS. All these MSS need a fresh look together with the similar MSS of other libraries.


F-Pn: Gr. 2338, F-Pn: Gr. 2339, F-Pn: Gr. 2340, F-Pn: Gr. 2341, F-Pn: Gr 2448 see Notice rédigée par Anne Lapasset Mars 2015 (here) and (Pinakes), F-Pn: Gr. 2536, F-Pn: Gr. 2762 see: Notice rédigée par Morgane CARIOU (here) and (Pinakes).

And also: F-Pn: Gr. 1810 see: Notice rédigée par Jocelyn Groisard (novembre 2008) (here), F-Pn: Sup. gr. 51.

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Comment by pavlos erevnidis on April 7, 2021 at 15:57

A correction to my previous post: The date of Frøyshov’s article is 2016 not 2019.

Comment by pavlos erevnidis on April 6, 2021 at 18:32

Early Christian Modality, Severus and Aurelian


The way(s) that the liturgical material could be seen, in relation the musical modality is not unique and self-evident (as it is sometimes presented). One could imagine for example a linear evolution beginning with one mode, or even in a more linear way e.g. 1, then 3, then 4, then 7 and finally 8 modes, and then 12, then 16, then 32 etc. Or different combinations like 1 then 4 and then 8. We already noticed Jeffery’s view on how the eightfold modality emerged in Jerusalem from a “simpler” status, as he writes (see my posts here dated 2021.3.14, bold emphasis is mine):


it was in the Resurrection Vigil of Sunday morning, where the bishop read the four Gospels, that a form of musical organization emerged based on recitation tones organized in two tetrachords. These became the medieval modes of Gregorian chant …”


Firstly, let us accept for the moment that “recitation tones” were truly the “constitutional starting point” within an absolute intra-cultural linear evolution, from simpler to more complex forms, of Christian modality. Additionally, there is not any reason to suppose that these recitations (if this was the only music related material used by Christians) were always “simple” and “primitive.” Instead, there is also the possibility that these “recitation tones” to be simplified versions of the local, non-Christian, more complex, melodic material. Secondly, Jeffery’s view is not the only possible one; is just a scenario. But let us make things little bit easier: If we accept, for the moment, all these presumptions i.e., α) Jerusalem as the place of origin, or the mother of the eightfold system(s) (I can’t avoid to express it in Greek: Μήτηρ των Οκτωήχων, κατά το  Μήτηρ των Εκκλησιών!), β)  that we have to see this eightfold system in a intrinsically Christian prospect and γ) that the product of this prospect could (or, it is “rationally acceptable” to) be described with stages, then recently (2019) we read one more view; this is the way Stig Simeon R. Frøyshov summarized his “hypothetical reconstruction in his article “The Resurrection office of First Millennium…” (part II, here), p. 140 (bold emphasis and square brackets are mine):


“…The following hypothetical reconstruction of three stages is proposed:

In a pre-octotonal period, probably until the fifth century, these psalms may have been fixed, as they have always been in the Armenian tradition. Particularities of mode 3 in the case of several RO [= Resurrection Office] elements suggest that the mode 3 set of the second and third-stage RO was a very early, if not the pristine one [= only one mode, he writes in his footnote 91= “From this we may probably infer that mode 3 was originally the privileged mode of this group of three stanzas, perhaps even a single pre-octotonal mode. We also note that there is a much stronger presence of the three stanzas in the authentic modes, suggesting that they originated in an early period in which no plagal modes were employed in this case.”]. Ps 43 was probably the fixed first psalm; the prayer after it seems to figure in SIN 47.

A second, early-octotonal stage, in which there were four (authentic) modes of three psalms, repeated to yield eight, seems to have appeared in the fifth century. Ps 145 was probably the fixed last psalm in all modes except the third.

The third, fully-octotonal stage, with four authentic and four plagal modes, existed by the sixth century, as attested in the Ancient Iadgari hymnal (given that its sixth-century dating is correct), and presumably included the eight Sunday Morning Gospel series. …”

In Frøyshov’s terms we reached to the 6th century; remember the time of Severus of Antioch. One has to see firstly the subject in a more general way before specializing. Is it possible to still speak only of recitation tones in 6th c. or we are, this time, talking about “real” “melodic modes”? And, how and when Jerusalemite proto-theorist Christians moved on from the one to the other by composing, even simple, Christian melodies? In parallel, these early melodies were based only on melodic patterns/model melodies/formulaic melodies (e.g. of the automelic-prosomoiac kind) without the existence of a modal system? Are we sure that in the very beginning of Christian music there was only recitation and then, linearly, we have hymns? Or we have independently, at the same time, recitation tones together with formulaic melodies without “a system”?  How all these (or some of them) prospects of problematic “could work/run” the same time? We have to realize that some modern views we see are not based exactly on clear and well-defined cohesive scenarios as history is not moving forward in “wishful” linear ways. For those who believe on those kinds of scenarios, even partly, a new harmonizing endeavor, the least, is needed. Anyhow, Frøyshov’s hypothetical conclusions are even more linear and complicated than the “reasonably simple” of prof. Jeffery. Additionally, we have not here a “high” reflection of liturgical material to more specific music theory related topics like recitation tones or even tetrachords (like Jeffery); especially since such kind of information is not attested.

There are, also, a lot to be said about the kind of prospects, from primitive to full-fledged phenomena but it is also important to have a look on how these pieces of knowledge are reworked. Cases where Froysov’s work (on this early material) is not used, would demonstrate better how “self-evident” pieces of selected knowledge are used as common wisdom [1*] leading to similarly linear reworking(s) of the existing linear narratives.


It is also interesting the way Liam Patrick Hynes-Tawa, in her recent thesis How the Phrygian Final Lost Its Finality (2020,, describes “as history moves forward” the “concept of reciting tone” as something that “will help” (this is the wording) “to keep their strand discrete”; but it is better the whole exact excerpt to be given. On p. 27 (and within the chapter § 1.2 entitled On the Naming of Modes) we read, among others (bold emphasis in the original, underlining is mine):


… By this point, these Greek “modal” names have lost just about every characteristic that we now associate with the word “mode.”

It is thus perhaps no coincidence that it is right around this same time that we encounter a second source of modal naming and categorization, that being the Octoechos, the system of eight tones that originated in Byzantine liturgy. Barbara Haggh-Huglo has suggested that these “tones” referred initially only to reciting tones on which psalms were intoned, and did not indicate octave species, finals, or even formulaic melodies.[here footnote 49 is given] These are all associations that the numbered tones of chant would eventually pick up over the course of their long histories in both the Western and Eastern Churches, but placing their roots in the concept of the reciting tone will help to keep their strand discrete as history moves forward. The third and latest source of modal naming is that which is based around the concept of the four finales. Under this system of naming, which …


The text of her footnote 49 reads:


49 Barbara Haggh-Huglo, personal communication (August 2018) in anticipation of her monograph in progress, Aurelian, Charlemagne, and the Eight Tones. She kindly explained to me that “intonations and the melodies following them and linking up with the antiphons or other chants were something different (differentiae, noeane etc.),” rather than being originally associated with the eight numbered tones.


At least one has to wonder about how it all started from the, initially, late –but then with a gradual shifting backwards, in time – pre-theoretical period


Anyhow, French people, already in mid-19th c. used, in an apophthegmatic way, to say: Qui part d’une erreur n’arrive jamais à la vérité.



[1*] Or, based on (or naming it as) a “practice based approach”? But in such an early case, we have not available musical material even in order to make selections. Remember also what I wrote on Wellesz’ “actual Byzantine practice” in the end of my post here (dated 2021.3.5), although in that case we have, even, notated material.


NB. It is not my purpose here to associate this extract to any kind of appraisal/critique of prof. Barbara Hagg-Huglo’s views on the subject or even of her forthcoming book. After all, I prefer to hold in my hands the aforementioned monograph (written by her hand), looking forward, in particular, to her examination of topics of the Musica Disciplina considered to this day with expressions that have the meanings of “enigmatic,” “weird,” “inexplicable,” “wrong,” etc.

Comment by pavlos erevnidis on March 26, 2021 at 18:05

Gaudebunt Labia Mea: An early Response: a note on modulation (and transposition)



The main obstacle on modulation issues (and not only them) is the substantially unsolved problem of the “wrong signatures” which challenges the modern understandings/reconstructions of the (monolithic?) Byzantine musical system in general.[1*] Here it comes to my mind what Heinrich Husmann already in his “Modulation und Transposition in den bi- und Trimodalen Stichera,” AfMw 27.1 1970 (BTW, Husmann used in that article the term/tool Leiter), p.3 wrote about one of the Strunk’ working methods (a statistic one) for his reconstruction of “the” Byzantine system: 

denn Strunks statistische Methode be­stand ja gerade darin, die häufigen Quarten in der hypothetischen Konstruk­tion seines sticherarischen Oktoëchos als die reinen, die seltenen oder ganz ge­miedenen als die übermäßigen anzusetzen. Zwar die Tatsache der statistischen Bevorzugung gewisser Quarten gegenüber gewissen anderen war ihm mit Recht der Beweis für die Existenz unterschiedlicher Quarten, - aber warum sollen die in einer Tonart gemiedenen Quarten nicht in einer anderen Tonart unter den benutzten vorkommen?


[1*] I am referring also to the different system of conjunct tetrachords because even to this case we have the high probability of more than one streams/branches (of its use) to exist … and this not only, as routinely happen, to ascribe it (as one) to certain parts of the repertoire. 



Regarding the “wrong signatures” (especially in relation to modulation) of the notated medieval Greek MSS, it is important at first, for the most people of MM, to explain (very roughly and within a few sentences) what a “wrong signature” is: in order to recognize the modern notes of a piece in a Greek notated MS (that belong to the time of the fully “diastematic” notation = sometime in the 3rd quarter of the 12th c.) one should start to “count” the neumes from the beginning of the piece. Let us suppose that we started with Mi: Mi fa la mi la si etc. and we reached to a certain point in the middle of the piece where the relative neume’s note is a G (sol). But, at this very point, as it happens in a lot of cases, unfortunately for our reconstructions, there is a symbol (=a Medial Signature=MeSi) in the MS that “inform us” that this note is Si (i.e. not the expected Sol that the modern reader concluded)! Among -the small -community of Byzantine chant people a relatively lot of ink has been spilled in the 20th c. over this incompatibility of “our reconstructions” and the MSS themselves! Let us give several more relative excerpts on the subject the way Heinrich Husmann in the aforementioned article describes.

He writes on Thodberg and Raasted who believe, in contrast to an earlier generation of researchers (e.g. Tillyard, P.E.), that medieval scribes where not so much “wrong” (and “silly” I could add, square brackets are mine): [p.6]  …Sehr kennzeichnend geben Thodberg und Raasted mit fast denselben Worten den Grund ihrer Suche nach einer neuen Deutung der ZS [=MeSi] an: Thodberg resümiert am Ende seines Referates auf dem Kongreß Ohrid 1961 (Bericht Bd. II, S. 612): „So we arrive at the conclusion that the ,wrong‘ signatures in (the) Sticherarium are too many to be regarded as simple mistakes“, und Raasted, wieder sehr viel vor­sichtiger, schreibt (Intonation formulas, S.163): „A considerable number of seemingly wrong medial signatures... cannot be dismissed as copyists' errors or misunderstandings.“


Indeed, for those who have even more time, to reaffirm the above, try, by quickly browsing the pages and count how many times and for how many MSS the wording “this is an error of the scribe” (of the neumes) exists (and the confidence exuded, as a representation of the then “unifying,” communis opinio) in the transcriptions of Byzantine notated MSS, that conducted by Henry Julius Wetenhall Tilliyard.

Husmann, then continues with more specialized issues and then he makes clear that his personal view is different:

[p. 7] Von 4 ZS [MeSi], alle „falsch“, ist eine sicher falsch, die andere nur durch chromati­sche Transposition deutbar; offenbar sind die wirklich falschen ZS doch häu­figer, als die sehr verdienten dänischen Forscher in ihrem Idealismus annehmen.

Such problems continue until our days although we see that modern opinions of these subjects are compromises and conventional “combinations” and “mixings” of the prejudgments of those generations.


The problem of “wrong signatures” is an unsolved problem which demonstrates the perplexities of modern prospects. This is also indicative of the “limits” of the modern conclusions (and the relative “realizations” we hear) about transposition/modulation phenomena in Byzantine chant. There are also instances where researchers avoid such “dangerous cases” by “selecting” the MSS (or isolated pieces) with not such, in their prospect, “problematic” readings. We see also endeavors on Phthorai, modulation etc. that do not care to inform the readers if the “one or two” MSS used as example are representative of the piece or simply (and silently) just isolated specimen(s) that “prove” the ideas of the author. We also see cases where researchers also “try” to find which is the “most correct” and “clear” MS that transmits the melodies in a “correct” way! Such attempts existed already in the older times, e.g. Husmann characteristically writes on his MS-selection/appraisal on p. 8 of the same article (bold emphasis mine): Von den beiden deutbaren ZS [=MeSi=medial signature] steht die eine in der einzigen fehlerlosen und klaren Handschrift Sin.1230, die andere aber in der zweitschlechtesten Sin.1218. Der Notentext von Sin.1218-die älteste der betrachteten Handschriften, wohl aus dem Jahre 1177 - ist nicht nur in diesem Stück ganz besonders schlecht, - die ältesten Handschriften sind eben nicht unbedingt auch die besten. Dafür bietet sie freilich eine richtige ZS [=MeSi]. Die zwei anderen ZS, eine „falsch“, die andere sicher falsch, stehen in 1216 und 1225, relativ guten Handschriften. Die Fehler sind also ohne Regel „statistisch“ verteilt.


Thodberg also used e.g. the word zuverlässigste for the description/understanding of a MS in his book on the Alleluia tradition.


The main cause of such kind of views is that since there is no case/prospect for several theoretical streams to exist [2*] within modern prospects (remember what I wrote about the older “unified [Byzantine] theory”), then the MSS, e.g. of – a notated book named- sticherarion,  represent “in general” the same stream and thus it is “obvious” to look to a piece form “Klaren” or “guten,” even later, MSS than “to get confused” with the “unclear” and the “difficult to work/understand” earlier diastematic MS-versions of it. The “suppressing” consequence is that there is not any room left for a less monolithic understanding of the notated MSS and what one by one represent. One could think the results, if such criteria existed for the modern “restitutions” of Latin chant…


[2*] Even in chronologically linear terms, or what Raasted wrote of “branches of the tradition,” or even in terms of “stability of the tradition” (after the reference of his “fruitless experiments” and that he found “that it was impossible to get a clear picture of a MS-grouping.” ) More specifically, in order one –of those who have some free time- to have a better view on Raasted’ relative problematic  could read pp. 11 ff. of his 1966 book Intonation Formulas and Modal Signatures… (MMB, Subsidia VII.).



Instead, in relation to our level of knowledge of streams within Greek notated MSS, even in our days where things are not better [*3], some people is seemingly very optimistic on these issues, because it is easy when one talks about modulation in a general way, and differently when specializing (especially when a good amount –not 3-4- of medieval sources are considered). In the latter case then there are, obviously, many discussions, disagreements and different points of view. The people of MM could recall the discussions in the group Restitutions mélodiques. The Byzantine music people could think on how many comments could be possible if one have a look e.g. to pp. 182A-193B of the above 1966 book of Raasted. As a matter of fact, sometimes, Byzantine modulation issues, in our days, is more considered in an, in reality, “open” field (or in a vague and abstract state of affairs) which is unrecognizable by “outsiders” who think that we have a conclusive and “ready to use” case here.


[*3] If it is not worse, as more of “generalized propositions” are written instead of trying even more hardly to find “streams”; the latter is the “natural” case in terms of “humanness” -in an objective way this time-, because it  is “not natural” for medieval people to be “monolithic.”



But how one with no intimacy with the Greek material could have an idea of completeness, when someone exposes for example on Byzantine modulation/transposition phenomena using notated MSS? We already gave one hint: If someone compares only 3 or 4 MSS as an argument of what s/he maintains, then the reader has to be skeptical, especially if the “argument” of “MS-clearness/badness” is given. But I’ll give one more: The best way of working with the intervallic  aspect of such a material is just as in the Latin chant (minimizing, of course, any ambition to “find”/edit “one” urtext for every piece): to compare the more possible number of “adiastematical” with the more possible number of the “diastematic” MSS (and taxonomizing them according to their –if known- date or provenance, although provenance is not, always, something with secure conclusions). Especially for modulation/transposition phenomena within sticherarion, try to remember if one, only (just to begin), MS is given among the proposed MSS (hopefully more than 3 or 4 MSS): the Sinai 1218.  Remember, the MS that Husmann wrote: Der Notentext von Sin.1218-die älteste der betrachteten Handschriften, wohl aus dem Jahre 1177 - ist nicht nur in diesem Stück ganz besonders schlecht, - die ältesten Handschriften sind eben nicht unbedingt auch die besten. 

This is the oldest “diastematic” MS of the “complete” sticherarion that most of the Byzantine chant people (with rare exceptions) usually avoid to consider or just count how many signatures exist in a piece of it (in a quantitative manner). And believe me it is not so bad as is generally described. The main “problem” is its complexity (see e.g. p. 22, b. of Raasted 1966).

In the case that Sinai 1218 will be used in a modern endeavor on modulation phenomena then I acknowledge, for the moment, 3 stances: 1) one could maintain that this is a MS with a lot of, simply, “scribal errors,” or 2) that these errors are “explained” because the “diastematic” notation was at that time in its beginnings and thus the scribes were not “skilled”! These two, of course, raise the suspicion more for the modern prospects than for “the medieval scribes.” If 3) someone includes this MS in the rationale then this rationale on modulation/transposition has chances of plausibility (and this only if the sample of the included pieces is not chosen according to their “compatibility” to one of the modern prospects).  Perhaps there are more than 3 cases… All I propose is that for the notated book of sticherarion one has to remember, at least for the beginning, only one MS, Sinai 1218. As far as for modulation issues about the rest of the repertoire (notated books with names like Heirmologion, Psaltikon etc.) if a small number of MSS are suggested for comparison then one should not be satisfied with the “excuse” that this is … bon pour l’ Orient!


The previous referred propositions about the limits (and the relativity of the “established beliefs or in other cases the vague and abstract state of affairs) of the current understanding of the Byzantine system(s) (as well as its modulation/transposition phenomena) becomes more apparent when a -relative to modulation phenomena- modern interpretation is drawn from a wrong modern transcription. Such a case could project more clearly how the proposed data could be “independent” from the -“generalized”- conclusion (so, the rhetorical dimension of the existence such kind of examples has not to be excluded) or, that the conclusion seems to be there ready, in advance, for consumption… regardless the degree of accuracy of the data! This is the case of Troelsgård’ “Introduction…” (MMB IX, 2011, p. 85 with note 240). On this page he gives a transcription (from one MS) of an alleluia and its verse (as Example 56). Then as side-note 240 he writes about a phenomenon where “The last vowel is prolonged by the insertion twice of a double gámma, representing the sound ‘ng’. The exact meaning and function of this practice is unknown, though Levy’s suggestion as to a melodic transition to repetition or allelouia-refrain is appealing (Levy 1963, 134). Modulation seems to be at hand in the double-gámma-ending of Ex. 56. [bold emphasis mine]


But his transcription as Ex. 56 is, by all means [4*], wrong … and the modulation-related conclusion could be the same if the transcription was correct!


[4*] I write “by all means” because it is not a matter of a decision to make on where we have to consider e.g. protus on A or D, or even of an ambiguous position of an e.g. aquitanian neume. The transcription is simply… wrong.

 NB. This is a text, as a record of my current view, on the difficulties and the degree of modern understanding of the medieval Greek notated sources especially on the subject of transposition/modulation. In fact what we do not know is much more than we know on such issues just as it is the case for the ancient Greek and for the medieval Greek theoretical treatises. As a result when one feels the need to make comparisons between these two (or better “two” since they both have streams/branches and are not monolithic), it is important for such comparisons not to be written in an abstract manner without exhaustive details (especially the crucial ones) from the sources and the modern literature. If such conditions are met, then, and only then, would it be possible for an equally detailed critique to be written (on these comparisons).


Comment by pavlos erevnidis on March 23, 2021 at 16:46

Heinrich Husmann and ancient Greek music in relation to chant


The compromising nature (as a construction) of an Introduction to X book does not sometimes permits the readers to realize how colorful the X domain is. But let us give an example.


Interesting is the way Heinrich Husmann used ancient Greek material in relation to Byzantine chant. In the end of his “Die oktomodalen Stichera und die Entwicklung des byzantinischen oktoëchos,” Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 27.4, 1970, after having established his view on the intervallic relations of Byzantine modes (based on notated material) he, then, demonstrated their relation in accordance to his own views about the ancient Greek music theory (beginning with the Gregorian use of Dorios etc. and reaching even to Aeolios). Then, he referred to some of Byzantine streams (Hagiopolites, Pachymeres, Papadikai). At least, he didn’t refer to the descriptions of one of those expositions as “the common” or “the Byzantine” or even “the classic”. Anyhow, in this important work (as well as the one on bi- or trimodal stichera, and the other on the Psaltischen Stils) on modulation/transposition phenomena, he felt the need to use along with the Byzantine ordinals these ethnic names as well as the concept of scale. Furthermore, on the first page 304 he wrote in a critical manner: Man kann die oktomodalen Stichera wie Tardo als besonders kunstvolle Kompositionen schätzen und wie Strunk ein auf anderem Wege gewonnenes oktoëchales System an ihnen erläutern; in einer Lage wie der heutigen aber, in der wir an jedem bisher entwickelten tonalen System zweifeln, gewinnen die oktomodalen Stichera eine andere, fundamentale Bedeutung:… Then on p. 323 he wrote: Dieselbe Oktavtransposition stellt auch die Verbindung zur antiken griechischen Musiktheorie her. Anyhow, within such a theorizing (i.e. first the notated MSS then his “views” on Gregorian and ancient Greek music theory and the intermediate, and not decisive, use of Greek chant theoretical treatises) he tried, at least, to conclude to a theorizing in some accordance with these Greek chant theoretical sources. He didn’t make any serious effort to understand them intrinsically (the ethnomusicologist of the future will be more sure about this), as conscious and consistent themselves sources (e.g. Pachymeres; Husmann does not refers here to Bryennius and, of course, he didn’t know at all the eight relative to chant ancient Greek music theory sources appeared in this blog) as well as that those sources represent different streams of the Greek chant and that the information they transmit is important for a more complete “system(s) reconstruction.” This is apparent when he explains his rationale in his later, 1971, “Modalitätsprobleme des psaltischen Stils” p. 45, he writes: … entwickelt dann die Oberquintlage der Plagaltöne und versucht, den Anschluß an das antike Skalensystem herzustellen. Daß letzteres nur Hypothese bleiben kann, ist bei dem Fehlen der Quellen selbstverständlich; daß aber ein Zusammenhang des byzantinischen mit dem antiken System bestehen muß, ist ebenso selbstverständlich. In the very end of this article he refers, in a linear and romanticizing manner to a direct relation of the ancient Greek music theory to the medieval Greek chant. Then concludes the article by connecting the modern Armenian chant with Vorderen Orient  and the Kontakia of Romanos: “Damit ist das psaltische byzantinische Tonsystem tatsächlich die Weiterfuhrung des Systems der antiken griechischen Transpositionsskalen. Diese stammten ihrerseits wieder aus dem Vorderen Orient, in dem auch die Wurzeln der armenischen  liturgischen Music, die den 1. Ton als Dur-Modus bis heute bewahrt hat, liegen, und aus dem auch Romanos und seine Kontakien kamen.”  Anyhow, although H. Husmann is still cited frequently about his, then, cutting-edge research, these aspects of his work (scales, especially for transposition/modulation phenomena, or tribal names as the way he interprets them, mainly as tools) are kept, nowadays, very much in the background of the modern preferences. He is rarely (if not at all) referred about these ideas/tools of him because the scale concept, within the modern exeptionalism of Chant-modes, is something “not very much accepted” as well as that the existence of the ethnic names (and their theoretical consequences) of ancient Greek theory in the chant sources is deemed, in the same - but inverted- romanticizing way of Husmann: as something among –using a similar to Wellesz’ decreasing process (see the end of my March 5, 2021 post on Mesarites in this blog) - “the otherwise quite short pieces of teachings” or more or less, as I could characterize it, of “decorative” value!

Comment by pavlos erevnidis on March 21, 2021 at 18:26

Important MS updates, John Chrysostomites, more on LMMA etc.


The I-Vat: Urb. gr. 77 (Math. 255 [16th], Vitrac p. 166, [17th]) is now online. (See  Bibliographic references.) The Harmonica of Ptolemaios begins on f. 45 r, the text belongs to class m. This is one more MS that in its Bellermann Anonymos III the schema-ta (or species) of diapason/octave, 278r, are counted from the second to the eighth not first to seventh (for the other online MSS with the same counting, see the description of the first MS, I-Vat: Gr. 191 in the main text of this blog). 

As I wrote in the previous post about the secular context of the important word Kavália/Καβάλια; I have to add that it is attested in one more online MS but this time not belonging to one of the text(s) that published, with problems, under the title Die Erotapokriseis des Pseudo-Ioannes Damaskenos zum Kirchengesang (1997) [=PsD]. Thus one can find this term also in the Vat. gr. 872 (see Bibliographic references).


Additionally, the readers of Pseudo-Ioannes Damaskenos’ text should be informed that there is one more online MS, together with the BNF Sup. gr. 1302 (I gave the link in my post dated December 6, 2019) that Gerda Wolfram and Christian Hannick, its editors, did not consulted.

This is the BNF Sup. Gr. 1349 one of its earliest testimonies (according BNF consultation: Fin du XVIe-début du XVIIe siècle). The text of the PsD in this MS begins on 201r and goes on with its own selection of the parts of the edited text(s).

One more addition: Once working with some “great signs/σημάδια” and searching information especially about the lygizma I saw that the one in 58.68 of this edition is wrongly reproduced by the editors, at least in relation to their main MS the Dionysiou 570, f. 14 v. line 2.  As far as I checked, there is not any indication, by the editors in the critical apparatus or even in the Kommentar, about a possible variation among the sources.




I penned, the 5 March post on the supposed “nonsensicality” of Mesarites as an improvement of my relative 2001 paper, because I saw a text of F. Acerbi, “Arithmetic and Logistic, Geometry and Metrology, Harmonic Theory, Optics and Mechanics,” in A Companion to Byzantine Science, 2020 where he refers to the Mesarites’ relative musical excerpts (that include also ēchos-theorizing, not only Harmonic Theory): Illustrating the courses held in the Patriarchal School, he [Mesarites] describes a Quadrivium… whereas harmonic theory amounts to something that was deemed “almost entirely nonsensical.”  And then he (on footnote 12) cites the “introduction” book of Wellesz, A history of Byzantine music…

Furthermore, in the same 2020 text Acerbi, p. 133 writes: John Chrysostomites (c.1100) in his “dual” Life of John of Damascus and of Kosmas the Hymnographer; …

In the relative footnote 119 cites Tannery’ edition of Diophantos, vol.2 p. 36 here where there is an excerpt from one of the Vitae of John of Damascus. People interested in such a fields, with some music related material, could also read about the author John III of Antioch, instead of John VII Hierosolymites (964-966), of the BHG 884 Vita online in Vassa Kontouma, “Jean III d’Antioche (996-1021) et la Vie de Jean Damascène (BHG 884),” Revue des Études Byzantines 68, 2010 as well as the work of Pavlel Troitskiy 2020  here





Declarative assessments and established beliefs about certain topics


But such a kind of declarative judgments we see frequently within the Chant-world.  Indeed, we hear of centonisation, model melodies and formulas as mutual exclusive phenomena to the existence of scale units, tunings or, even, more generally to Mode phenomena. Many times, the chant pieces that include them (together with some of the “automelic-prosomoiac” phenomena) are placed, in such a declarative manner, conventionally, in the foggy and “collective” “pretheoretical period,” (we see also similarly a “pre-octotonal” period, probably until the fifth century, or expressions like “pristine” “primitive” etc.) which, as we already said, is – perhaps in an unconscious intentional way- not carefully defined (e.g., pretheoretical of what and concerning whom?). Thus the problem, especially in Latin chant, is “solved” by sweeping those pieces –apples and oranges- under the carpet. Reiterating an idea, based only in an established communis opinio, does not always prevents from guesswork and in such a case, unconsciously the comfort of the intimacy is engaged and, yes … repetitio matter studiorum! And this is not the only consequence, since such an overinflated theorizing has, as a byproduct, equally important issues such as the attempts (as precisely as it could be) of the more precise dating of the pieces or even whole parts of the repertoire.




For the lemmata of the multilingual Lexicum Musicum Medii Aevi that I proposed it will be vital, to include, perhaps in an appendix (including the Latin lemmata), the various interpretations/translations -if- given by the researchers over time. Indeed the vocabularies used/proposed by a researcher are in general useful but one reason that I propose such an appendix is that always exist the case of a privileged use of certain researchers, something that will mislead the research, especially when, for example, a less experienced Latin-chant researcher  feels the necessity to work in a more global way. It is much better to make him/her to think independently, i.e. not to judge (or make preferences) superficially in accordance to any special researcher. We have to construct tools in a way that solve more problems that they create. One can observe that such kind of preferential behaviors are related to the writing of several “new introductions,” with the byproduct of the “systematic suppression” (wording is not mine) of other -not necessarily- minority views.




Introductions to Byzantine chant books and their “outsider” readers


The kind of “Handbook of X” (a really useful kind of book) was worldwide, more in fashion around the turn of the millennium (spontaneously, and thus “naturally,” in terms of “humanness”). Especially for Byzantine chant it is important to realize the potential problems - as will become apparent below- will be caused by the way the rest of the Chant-people work with these “introductions.” In parallel, it seems that - for some reason- , the need to inform “others” in a more wide-raging (and “complete”) overview is something important.  We see, for example, how Christian Troelsgård in his Byzantine Neumes, a New Introduction to the Middle Byzantine Musical Notation (MMB IX, 2011), expands the topic of that book; in the back cover this is confirmed: “In addition, offers an introduction to Byzantine chant in a wider sense, dealing with topics such as…” Furthermore, in other cases we see, sometimes, relatively “critical” stances on Wellesz and other MMB researchers like Tillyard for example. As I discussed similar issues here in MM, I’ll not criticize here in detail, as the state of research is premature, on whether it is more of a rhetoric of a relatively “updated” status (than a matter of in reality a “reproduced” one) with certain –usually, not musical- preferences and if the core –musical- values are remained almost intact (and placed over “relative” to music platforms). With the word “musical” I am not talking about a package where a possible resorting to a “reasoning” referred to the various –new- historically informed musical transcription methods of medieval Byzantine notated sources is taking place. Such kind of medieval music realizations is something that is a matter of the personal, view on “humanness,” cultural frame or individual perspective and the preconventions of every single “transcriber.” This is said (including Latin chant) because sometimes the modern (e.g. in terms of intervallic habit and aesthetics) realizations of medieval music affect decisively the way we “see,” “select” and “reconstruct” the theoretical sources and not the opposite. So let us remain on the evaluations of the written material.


Indeed, any kind of “introduction” always reflects among others, naturally, more or less the “new” “views” and the “beliefs” of its author but the extant of “novelty” is not always clearly distinguishable by “outsiders” who may not even have a complete idea of the degree of (if) rhetorical dimensions involved. Here, additionally, I recall e.g. the old “How to write the Next ‘Grove’ an unexpected application to Newton’s Third Low” article (Journal of Musicology) of Jan LaRue. In our days it is important for the global community of Chant to have an idea that Byzantine things are much more colorful that the “compromising needs” of the various “introductions to Byzantine music” offer. Moreover, it is equally important for the unsuspected reader of such an “introduction” to know where the author exposes an “original” idea of him or if one proposition is a preference of her among other views. So an e.g. Syriac chant researcher (and not only her) is “obliged” to give references to such kind of books only based (and taking the risk), impulsively, on her personal belief about the author. I understand, easy solutions are convenient as well as are the reviews we read sometimes since it is very “catchy” for a Latin chant “outsider” scholar to have a “positive,” but uncritical, opinion of every book written or reviewed about Byzantine chant. All this, is indicative of the “exotisized” status of Greek chant to the minds of the majority of the Chant-world since, sometimes, a “West and the Rest” [1*] stance needs easy and “immediate” solutions. I imagine in the future a Latin chant scholar reading various “introductions” about the “Byzantine issues” s/he is interesting, than to go directly to the sources. If the latter, then the effort, believe me, will not be much more! Anyhow, until the time that the degree of rhetoric of all these issues will be evaluated by ethonomusicologists, sometimes I think it is better for someone to trust in her “independent intuition” (and self-observation of how she thinks/theorize about “relative” issues of Latin chant [2*]) about a particular “Byzantine” topic – although she does not feel safe- than to cite an "introduction" and to think that she got out of the way!


[1*] Some more aspects of this somewhat old –now- label see M. Walker, “Towards a Decolonized Music History Curriculum,” JMHP 10 1 (2020) (here).


[2*] It is, also, important to remember that to find parallels and contrasts between “two” fields is depended on the way and the side/aspect one “see” them (with different results in every case), especially of the topics that what we don’t know is much more of what we really know.

Comment by pavlos erevnidis on March 16, 2021 at 18:18

Gevaert and are the thèmes incompatible to échelle (and Modes)?


This post is a direct continuation of my previous one.


As far as I know the “pattern of thinking” of the “direction comparison” is also proposed at first by Wellesz (A History of Byzantine music… p.70, 2nd ed. 1961, Reprint 1980, emphasis and square brackets mine):


“Until recently the eight echoi in Byzantine music [at that time there wasn’t “Jerusalem modes,” but see also Wolfram’ similar to Wellesz’ wording in the previous post] had identified by modern scholars [who? What about medieval theorists?] with the eight modes of ancient Greek musical theory. This was a mistake, because the Greek ‘scales’ – if we are permitted  to use the term- were reckoned from the highest note downwards, whereas the Byzantine theorists built up the modes from the lowest note upwards: [here we see that the ‘scales’ of “the ancient Greek Modes”-reckoned from the highest note downwards (it seems that for Wellesz “ancient Greek modes” had focal points like final because his next scheme is build up over notes) - are compared to the “echoi”- builded up from the lowest note upwards-; then a scheme is given using a scale of 8 notes, this time  d,e,f,g,a,b,c,d are given vertically between the words “Greek” and “Byzantine” next to two vertical arrows with inverted directions; then Wellesz continues his endeavor on the subject with the air of absoluteness of his exclusive metatheory] The essence of a melody sung in one of the eight echoi, however, was its musical content [of course, who could maintain the opposite?]. By analyzing the musical structure of the melodies belonging to one of the eight echoi I found [See 1*] that the melodies of each echos were build up of a number of formulae which were a peculiar feature of the mode, or in other words; it was not the ‘scale’ [suggested in a mutually exclusive way] which was the basis of composition for the early Christian and Byzantine hymnographer, but [only?] a group of formulae which belonged together and made up the material for each mode. The composer’s task consisted in adapting these melodic formulae to the word of a new hymn and in linking them together in accordance with the words.”


All these in the 1961 2nd enlarged edition of his book. This paragraph, or a part of it, there wasn’t (if I remember correctly; I can’t go to the library due to Covid 19), in the first edition (1949) of this book; If this is true then it would be a further fact of interest for the future exposition/appraisal of the evolution of the “established beliefs” of Egon Wellesz (and his legacy). Moreover, we have already seen several “direction comparisons” one between “church modes ascends from D to d” to the “the System” that “descends from a’ to A,” one with the “tonoi of Ptolemaios” to “the Byzantine modes” and third, the earliest I know, between the “notes” of the “eight echoi of the Byzantine system” to the “notes” of the ‘scales’ of the “Modes of the ancent Greek musical theory.” As we can realize the survival of a repeatedly recycled and thus “established” “conceptual pattern” is more stable than its, diverged, reasoning(s)! Moreover, future ethnomusicological research, I think, will show with more detail, than me here (my main purpose is to demonstrate, as briefly as I can, the divergence of the arguments, not to describe them in full with detail; people with knowledge of ancient Greek music could discern, I am sure, even more aspects), if such a direction issue was really a valid “comparison tool” with “important” consequences or just an effort to demonstrate (in terms of performativity) a desired differentiation and thus… distinction.

The topic has, also, a lot of interesting connections to the “mode” issue and the views of Harold Powers or Max Haas for example. But let us leave aside, for the moment, the above mentioned 2006 article of the later as well his earlier “Modus als Skala …”, cited so many times (uncritically, in my account) within the modern, in Danto-nian terms, Chant-world.

But interesting is also that a “direction issue” and its consequences to the Octoēchos numbering(s), is in reality a Byzantine controversy, as I wrote in the past. This time it was a debate on who interprets better, intrinsically, the ancient Greek music theory. The “desired result” wasn’t an attempt “to prove” the theoretical incompatibility (or whatever relative) of “ancient Greek music theory” with the “Christian heritage” but, instead, which is “the most accurate” reading of the first, in order to be in a “correct” compatibility with Octoēchos. The controversy was between the reading of the earliest, until now, known theoretical stream of Greek chant, the -12th/14th formation of the- system of Hagiopolitēs, with the inverted “revised reading(s)” of, at least, Pachymerēs, Bryennios, Grēgoras and Argyros affiliation. To consider that such kind of debates within the Byzantine cultural sphere is an exclusiveness of the 14th century consists of a methodologically “restricted” canonicity which juxtaposes the, unfortunately, very late “survived sources” with “one narrative” that leads to a “systematic suppression” that predisposes the research and the… findings. The less I can say at this moment is that the existence of similar debates (and more streams, I am not referring only to the ca. 1200 Mesarites’ report as one can see at my post here dated March 5, 2021) in earlier times has not to be ruled out. Let us now read how Manuēl Bryennios describes passionately this “direction controversy” surrounding the medieval Greek sources, he writes (Jonker’s translation, p. 171, bold emphasis and square brackets are mine):


For that very reason, all who fail to understand these premises of the Ancients [παλαιών] with regard to the motion of the planets, will never be able to know exactly the arrangement [τάξιν] of the species of melody [ειδών της μελωδίας], which are called ēchoi by composers [μελοποιών] nowadays; they will from ignorance [απειρίας], or rather stupidity [αμαθείας], undoubtedly believe the first type of melody [είδος της μελωδίας] to be the seventh, and the second the sixth, the third the fifth, the fourth the fourth and vice versa. Let us now suppose a person who is not acquainted with the fact that the Hypodorian is the first and the lowest key [τόνος/tonos] of the harmonic system [του ηρμοσμένου], coinciding [επέχει] with the seventh species of melody [είδος της μελωδίας] whereas the Mixolydian is the seventh key (?) [είδος] of the harmonic system [ηρμοσμένου], coinciding [επέχει] with the first melodic species [είδος της μελωδίας]; when he learns that the Hypodorian tonos extents from…he will undoubtedly believe for the moment that the Hypodorian key [τόνος] coincides [επέχει] with the highest species of melody [είδος της μελωδίας] and the Mixolydian key with the lowest, being misled [εξαπατηθείς] by the different appellations of the notes [φθόγγων] enumerated, because his notion of the matter is not supported by knowledge [ανεπιστήμονα].   

François-Auguste Gevaert and what Wellesz found (and Gevaert taxonomized by Werner)


[1*] Wellesz failed to refer in this book (he also gives as a footnote his 1919-1920 article, to refer, even as an inspiration of his, to Gevaert’ thèmes. Any discussion on the possibility that this happens because Gevaert does not consider that échelle - thèmes are something mutually exclusive (as they both appear in the same book) is premature. Gevaert begins this book not by thèmes but with his theorizing about scales and modes and their evolution, according to him, in the Greco-Roman world (including citharodie [see also figure 1.2 in Jeffery’s article], St. Ambrose etc.). We read, in addition, his further exposition on Latin chant (chant antiphonique, Octoechos, exeptions, Aurelian, or what later we know as the “central problem” etc.). But what interests us here, is that conspicuously enough (the ethnomusicologists of the future will be more secure), the view that a downwards movement in ancient Greek music inspired Wellesz’ “direction comparison.” Indeed, Gevaert in his first page gives a representation of the downwards disposition of the sons: Conformément à l’usage des Anciens, nous la disposons de l’aigu au grave. And then the notes from aa (from the left) to A (right) are given as an illustration of this.


The Belgian scholar (characterized by Werner, Sacred Bridge, p. 28, as one of the representatives of a so called by him all-Hellenistic approach) nowadays, he is still cited, among others, about his thèmes work. I do not argue, of course, that we can not make selections from Gevaert’s work. Interesting, also, is the way Werner taxonomized the researchers of those years, in p. 367 of the same book (I do not want, as for myself, to be identified by the reader with anyone of Werners’ categorizations, although, it is obvious, I do not think that scale conception is something that has to be avoided in our descriptions of medieval chant(s), especially when we deal with transposition / modulation phenomena; square brackets and bold emphasis mine):    


In modern musicology, there are three principle trends of thinking with regard to this subject, (1) The older view, as represented by Gevaert, Reinach, Jeannin, and most of the French scholars [this is one more reason that, so many times in this blog, I refer to the future appraisal by ethnomusicologists of such a 19th- 20th c. material]. These consider the Syro-Byzantine conception of the eight modes a natural derivation from the classic Greek system of the harmoniai. (2) In sharp contradistinction there to, R. Lachmann, A. Baumstark, K. Wachsmann, and H. G. Farmer emphasize the liturgic-cultic origin ofthe Syrian Octoechos and doubt, at least as regards the first five centuries, a decisive Greek influence upon the modality of pre-Gregorian chant which, in their opinion, was almost wholly oriental in form and substance. (3) A mediating position is held by scholars like Curt Sachs, Peter Wagner, E. Wellesz, G. Reese, U. Bomm and others, who assume that the systems of all modes were the results of constant repetition of certain melodic formulas. These passages of sacred folklore crystallized in the course of centuries to fixed phrases, the nuclear cells of the modes. These were then superimposed upon recurrent liturgical rubrics and connected  (erroneously) with the Greek harmoniai. [here Werner gives his note No 137 =  Cf. O. J. Gombosi, 'Studien zur Tonartenlehre des frühen Mittelalters in Acta Musicologica, X, XI, XII (1938-40) and C. Sachs, The Rise of Music in the Ancient World (New York and London, 1943), pp. 223-38.]


As far as I can discern the performative dimension of such taxonomy surpasses any “objectivity,” but it is better not to comment further on if one scholar could be belonged to another category in relation to this extract. After all, this is Werner’s categorization. As for O. J. Gombosi’s set of articles there is somewhere else here in MM a small comment of mine.




  1. 1) These posts are long because I want for the reader to have the material/references in front of him/her, ready to be read, in order not to waste time searching for some of my citations. Although I hope that all this will encourage further personal research on the issues raised.

2) I’ll give two more excerpts from the above referred latest 2021 article of Wolfram, as a reminder, since it is not my purpose to systematically criticize all of it in detail (and other relative material); the ethnomusicologists of the future will have a wider view, after all.

On page 207 she writes:

“As I have remarked at the beginning, the Armoniká of Ptolemaios were during all the Byzantine centuries the most important source of classical music theory. So, we can possibly assume a certain presence of these ideas in the background of Byzantine music.”


The last sentence of the text, again on page 207, reads (bold emphasis mine):

So, we can at least suppose that church theoreticians of the 14th/15th century had to a certain degree received information of classical music theory.

It is obvious that after the reading of my recent post in this blog dated March 5, 2021 on ca. 1200 Mesarites’ report (as an enlarged version of the first part of my 2001 article) one could understand that my relative sentence is the following:

So, we can at least assert that church theoreticians of the late 12th century Byzantium had to a certain degree received, consciously, information from ancient Greek music theory material.

Comment by pavlos erevnidis on March 14, 2021 at 17:16

The issue of the way we should consider Latin chant’ theoretical treatises in relation to the “real” practice (and our modern “realizations”) it is also important, as its “origins.” Peter Jeffery in The Cambridge History of Medieval Music, 2018, began his recent text with the following sentence:

“Like all great civilizations, medieval western Europe was built upon what came before….”


At the end we have his understanding of how the medieval modes (“simple” in the beginning) emerged within the Christian community of Jerusalem (bold emphasis mine): “There the most important religious site was the tomp of Jesus, and it was in the Resurrection Vigil of Sunday morning, where the bishop read the four Gospels, that a form of musical organization emerged based on recitation tones organized in two tetrachords. These became the medieval modes of Gregorian chant, Byzantine chant, and some other Eastern chant traditions.” But what mostly I am interested here are his last sentences before his Summary (bold emphasis mine):


"Before long, efforts were being made to conflate the Latinized Oktōēchos with the modes of Boethius, though the two originally had nothing to do with each other."


Then he explains some “differences” of the “Jerusalem Modes” by using, in my account, scale related terms like octave (of the church modes), and the tetrachords of the GPS and LPS and the tetrachords of the Jerusalem modes. This is said because Jeffery some pages before writes: “It should be understood that, even though Boethius called these “modes,” they should be thought of as tunings, octave species, or transpositions rather that scales.”  This is not an unanimously accepted view. For example, A. Barbera in his “Octave Species” (p. 232) wrote (square brackets and bold emphasis are mine): “A genus [especially of a tetrachord] is, after all, a tuning, or more precisely infinitely many tunings within firmly established boundaries. Such tunings presume a musical scale or system as backgrounda first note or string, a second note, a third, [i.e., established intermediate degrees of a scale unit] and so forth.” Additionally, the “species of diapason” are scale units that were “necessary” for the modes –especially for Boethius’ contemplation (their focal points within an octave [a heptatonic scale] in the various modal practice(s) is a different, case by case, issue) and we have to add that transposition is not a mutual exclusive phenomenon to scale; not mention additionally that we still hear about the use of pentatonicism [as historical phenomenon or as a tool of ours?]). So the text of Jeffery then reads (bold emphasis square brackets and underlining mine):  


“The octave of the church modes ascends from D to d, while the System, descends [1*] two octaves from a' to A, and the tetrachords of the Greater and Lesser Perfect Systems were not the same as the tetrachords of the Jerusalem modes. These efforts resulted in the D mode being linked to the name Dorian and so on, as students are still being taught today. But the notion that the modes of Gregorian chant go back to ancient Greece has no more historical reality than the idea that Gregorian psalmody goes back to the Jerusalem temple.


What at first level I want to examine here is firstly in more general terms the notion of “origins” (and “go back”) and then, secondly (as [1*], the “ascends/descents” recurring pattern that early (and later) modality of church music is considered until our days.

It is well known that anyone who belongs to a community can create/construct (for “herself” or “the other”) a “selective” “theory” of belonging (of something) or not belonging as well as parallels and contrasts with the past; even Carolingians themselves. As far as for our understanding of them things are not always clear. Do we understand a kind of music as Christian if it is taxonomized “later” in a “Christian system,” e.g. Octoechos? Are we obliged to use a systemic reason or labels in order “to prove” exclusive “identity”? Or there are other (whose?) parameters? Anyhow any idea that early (how early) Christian modality (one?) was “a product” of Jerusalem (only?) is nothing more than guesswork. If we accept it as working hypothesis, then, in my account, the most possible scenario (because only of scenarios we can speak in relation to the available sources) is that those local Christians adopted, at the very beginning, some tunes / melodic patterns (partially?) from “around,” i.e. Jewish, Iranian (an aspect not considered by modern chant-people), Roman, Gnostic environments etc. (if we have to use labels). Simplified versions of such tunes could be used for the more complicated kinds of recitation. In more general level: any use of liturgical material as proof of an isolated/intrinsic, intra-Christian, linear musical evolution of Christian chant and modality (e.g. beginning from 3-fold to 8-fold, or even from “1-fold” to 8-fold etc.) is nothing more than a presumption that silently constrains the evidence that might contradict it. I will give now some somewhat later known examples in order to realize how many possibilities exist in order to realize the dimensions of the evolution of the Christian (and not only it) chant.  

1) If we accept the narrative, the way the ecclesiastical historian Sozomenos (d. ca. 450) gives it, that St. Ephraim’s (d. 373) musical work is connected with the musical work of the not Orthodox Bardaisan (and his intriguing named son Harmonios; the case of a double named /nicknamed personality –perhaps according to his audience- has not to be excluded, this phenomenon is not something strange) does not means automatically that he “accepted”

α) incompatible “ancient Greek melodies”  to his own “traditional” or “autochthonous”  music (if yes, in what manner and, finally, how much «Greek» or “Gnostic” etc. was Harmonios’s compositions?) and

β) an “ancient Greek theory” with, Phrygian and Lydian "Modes." (whatever kind of “Phygianess” or “Lydianess” they had, I do not myself use here as example the "Dorian" (only of mainland Greece?). For one brief narrative of these and their evolution (from “qualitative” to the “quantitative”) see the J. Solomon’ p. 88, note 88.

Additionally, since the case of Ephraim and the Byzantine automelic-prosomoiac chants are given, in our times, as a “restricted” “model melodies” favored theorizing, especially after Haas’ “Modus als Skala…,” what I have to say here, for the moment, is that things are/was not exactly the selective way Haas contemplates. In parallel, such kind of “influence” and identity discussions (not only in relation to scale [not exactly scale for Haas, see his later Griechische Musiktheorie in Arabischen,…here 2.3.Probleme I: Was sind  Skalen? This issue needs a separate discussion]) are characterized by a lot of passion, given the way Max Haas writes the long footnote 42 of this 2006 article.

2) Let us remember the Arian musicians in Spain who lived with the Catholics.  “Big” differences “important of identity” about some actors are “tiny” and “not important” in another framework (or age) of comparison. Imagine in the future (with a relative loss of information) what they will think about the “differences in performance” between two Conductors who are considered as “very different” by nowadays critics. Thus the existence of a “different” prospect (in terms, e.g. of Musical or Rythmical modes) does not mean, obligingly, “different music” for all medieval actors: What for Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī – in “rhythmical” terms - was different, for someone else would be – melodically - “very similar” and thus “problematic” in terms of a desired “clear” cultural differentiation. Only Isḥāq’s eulogized “authority” could understand – even with difficulty- a “small” but important, regarding identity, difference. One has to be cautious on the rhetoric of the existing sources. The absence is also meaningful. And there is not only this anecdote. Do different melodies (let us roughly say Gallican to Gregorian) mean, at all levels, different music? Sometimes the use of the word “autochthonous” is misleading especially when is connected, even occasionally, with a School of theorizing. Thus, the sole criterion to consider a composition is if it had relation to Al-Khalīl and Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī musicotheoretical affiliation? The Gregorian repertory was always the foreign and the Gallican is the “lost” autochthonous? The scarcity of sources does not mean that there wasn’t an autochthonous chant (and a secular music) in a given place. But the existence of common pieces with “other” traditions has not to be ruled out. What has to be theorized about the music sung by Claudianus (older and the then newly composed), in Vienna of the later 5th c.? Was it a “different” autochthonous, Roman, “mixed” or something else? No matter Claudianus’ personal esteem about Greek sciences.

3) A similar, to Ephraim’s, imitation act is documented for Severus of Antioch (d. 538 c.) who accepted theatrical melodies of his Antiochian environment in order to “persuade” his laity to go to the church. Are we sure, at “first level,” that the theatrical melodies in early 6th c. were composed without a theoretical system? The important for us musical part of the heated liturgical question (of the past two centuries) of what exactly was the liturgical work of Severus (an “octoechos” or a “tropologion” or even something “different”) belongs to a “second level,” i.e. if Severus used, if any, another (Christian?) musical system. Anyhow, Severus (as well as Ephraim) could perfectly include such “(if) foreign” melodies into another "system"; but the oral result, and the performance mode as I labeled it, of an imitated tune would not be so much different and for sure not “a coincidence.” Music phenomena of any autochthonous or foreign praxis could be described by more than one system/construction; but, always, not adequately.

If someone, in the future, find in a document the label “sauce hollandaise” (or “sauce espagnole”) what she will think about its origins? French or Dutch cuisine? Or, a French recipe that goes back to the Netherlands? Or, something else? (try at first to think of the possibilities of origin of these two sauces and then search for them in internet) Given the scarcity of sources, an innumerable number of plausible scenarios of belonging exist if one wants to “go back,” in order to search the oral and theoretical “origins” of the work of Bardaisan/Harmonios (not only a Greek layer of course), Claudianus, or the music of Arians in Spain or Alexandria or even the theatrical music in ca. 510 Antioch. This is not an issue of how much sophisticated is the modern research of Christian chant in relation to Jewish music, for example, as the oral aspect of both has been lost forever. It is not, because it cannot be.

Anyhow, when (and which) Christians "decided" to describe/taxonomize their melodies in some compatibility a) with a certain Greek or Greek-alike material (remember the Armenian evidence I referred to in my post here, dated December 27, 2019) or, b) with one of their current steams/readings of the ancient Greek theory, is something that is not known in detail by us until now. The fact that we have available material from the New, then, Carolingian cultural framework, where documents of such an effort exist, does not mean that they were the first who did that (just as [in a “restricted” methodological- canonicity] is the case of the (non)existence of a Greek exemplar for the ancient-Iadgari).  


Going back to the origins of the ascending/descending issue of comparison

[1*] But let us discuss this somewhat manageable case, of music theory, with relatively better documentation (as we have the existence of some sources).

Is it a matter of musical comparison a) of a linear ascending of the “Church modes” in a given octave (let us forget, for the moment, the Echoi in Wheels which is something not exactly linear) to the way the “notes” (or les sons) of “the System” descent? This is because Jeffery wrote: “while the System, descends two octaves from a' to A.”. In this case, I can’t understand the consequences (as a tool for comparison and distinction between “notes” with “modes”) of a theoretical downwards disposition/direction of “notes,” especially for the vocal part of music. Furthermore, an ascending vocal disposition is something more “natural,” not only in terms of “humanness.” Indeed, such a case within ancient Greek music, is described by Ptolemaios himself, see the Harm. III.10 together with Solomon’s p. 158, note 195 and Barker II, p. 385, note 72.  

Or, is it what Gerda Wolfram in her latest 2021 article (here), pp. 200-208 wrote b) as a comparison of the direction between “Modes of the Church” and the “Tonoi”? She writes about the “Tonoi of Ptolemaios,” p. 204 (bold emphasis, underlining and square brackets mine): “Ptolemaios localizes the whole system on seven tonoi, whose order of intervals is realized on the middle octave of the dorios e´-e (βου´-βου, mi´-mi). Within the octave, there are four fixed (symphone) tonoi and four movable (diaphone) tonoi. This is the precondition of the three gene: the diatonic, chromatic and enharmonic formed by higher or lower tension of the chords.”

Then an example (no 2) is given as an illustration of the following sentence: “The seven tonoi or transposition scales are in descending order: hypodorios from a´ to a, hypophrygios from g´ to g…dorios from e´ to e … mixolydios from b to B.” Some sentences latter she writes, p. 205 (bold emphasis mine): “In contrast with the classical system, Byzantine modes are arranged in ascending order: the first echos

It is not the place here to deal with the tonoi of Ptolemaios (e.g. see Harm. II.10, transl. J. Solomon on p. 88 / A. Barker II p. 336 and Harm. II.15, transl. J. Solomon on p. 103/ A. Barker II p. 350) and their direction in general (and Wolfram’s exposition), as we are focusing now on the modern “use” of the direction issue.

What we have to detect here, and in the next post as we shall see, is if it is more of something that has to be understood as an “established conceptual pattern” than an “objective” rationale that leads to any kind of “distinction” of “the System” and the Octoechos.

In order to understand this better, one could propose one more “direction rationale”:  i.e. a direction comparison between, this time, species (or schema-ta) of octave, as scale units, in relation to some aspects of modality of Europe and the Near East. The “result” could be the opposite one of prof. Jeffery and Wolfram (and Wellesz as we shall see). Let us consider such a case:  


Especially for the modes of Boethius, Calvin Bower proposed (but see also Hagel 2009, pp. 100-101, and p. 82 for those who have more free time) at least two, roughly saying, “origins” about Boethius’s one exposition of Modes: the High to Low pitch order (from a-B) of Species of Diapason (=according to Boethius, a “necessary” conception for Modes) that Bower ascribed to Nicomachos and the Low to High order (B-a,) that could be ascribed to Ptolemaios and others.

A small, for the moment, parenthetical comment of mine in favor to the existence until to the end of the first millennium of, the now lost, Nicomachos’ extensive book on Music: Fārābī (d. 950/951) like Boethius (d. 524), as I wrote in the past, writes about the two ways of direction/numbering the species of octave (no matter for us here which is the intervallic content he means; although this is a very important issue). With Fārābī we have an extra indication to reinforce, even more, Bowers’ view of the Greek origin (i.e. not of Boethius himself) of the High-Low order since I find of little possibility for Fārābī to read about such a double order/direction from a Boethius’ Arabic translation. Additionally, the Kitāb al-Fihrist/Book of the Catalogue of Ibn al-Nadīm (d. ca. 995) is referred to the existence of an Arabic translation of Nicomachos book on music; not as “Εισαγωγή/Introduction” but intriguingly the wording used is akin to the title of Fārābī’s book i.e. Kitāb al-mūsiqī al-kabīr / Great Book on Music. End of the parenthesis.

Regarding the available, now, Greek sources the “traditional numbering,” as Bower names it, is the upright down of the one preferred by Boethius for his description of the Modes.

As for the direction of the placing of Byzantine echoi (or, let us accept it for the moment, the “Jerusalem modes” whatever one theorizes about the nature of both of them) is identical for sure to one of the ancient Greek orderings of species of octave and thus there is not, in such a case, any reason for… distinction.

Back now to the “direction comparison” of prof. Jeffery (if finally this is a valid issue) about the “origins” of “the Latinized Oktōēchos with the modes of Boethius (we are not dealing here with later European efforts of the 9th, 10th or 11th etc. c.) had to each other: this is a not so self-evident and unquestionable topic, even within the much better documented environment of music theory. But the matter has some more modern complications where François-Auguste Gevaert is also, silently, engaged…

Comment by pavlos erevnidis on March 5, 2021 at 18:23

An improvement and on Mesarites’ “nonsensicality” ca. 1200


The last sentence, as footnote no 8, of the main text of this blog needs an improvement about the results of a “potential polarization” (as conceptual process not as a “finished/completed” status): So, instead of


[8*] Giving room even to potential polarization and not interaction, in other words, this could be a case of ‘glass half empty and glass half full’ within the same proposition.


please read:


[8*] Giving room even to a potential polarization (not “sterilization,” I hope), i.e. an a posteriori image of not a direct but a remote interaction, in other words, this could be a case of ‘glass half empty and glass half full’ within the same proposition. 


This interaction, as we said, was a direct one because a good number of those personalities were Church people and intellectuals at the same time. The medieval framework is different than ancient times and any over-projection of “markers of differentiation,” in order to denote “distance” instead of the various – partially - “mutually explanative” environments (full complementarity was not always the case), is misleading. Indeed a systematic polarization of a “Christian heritage” with – the documented - ancient Greek lore and knowledge was not always the case. Additionally as we already said: to suppose that all these medieval intellectual efforts by, also, clerics are connected exclusively to a later movement as a product of a “popularization” of the Quadrivium-texts (only then?) is the result of a methodological canonicity where “our narrative” is juxtaposed, uncritically, to the survived sources [*] not leaving room for possible analogous musical processes within the earlier well-known various movements (labeled as “Byzantine renaissances”)  of archaizing “Academizations” of teaching in Byzantium. To describe the whole millennium of Byzantine music via the “lens” of 14th century Papadikai is, the least, very ambitious and optimistic and as we well demonstrated predispose… the findings. The case of the “unknown” and “not seen,” by Byzantine music scholars of the 20th c., small chant treatise (one of the very oldest best dated) found in this blog within a MS (Vat. Gr. 191, see the description) with ancient Greek music theory is revealing enough.


[*] We have not in our disposal [as in the chant of Old Rome] any extensive “early” Greek theoretical source; even of ancient Greek music theory.




So let us have a look to the earliest, until now, documented, case where Harmonic Theory was involved “seriously” and in a passionate way, to Chant theory, within an Academic environment i.e. not exactly as a product of an increasing verbalization and popularization (among whom?) of the Quadrivium-texts but in already “well formed” theoretical systems. This is an enlarged, with more material, version of the first part of my 2001 paper referred to previously in this blog.     


There is not any reason for us to describe the music(s) of the Byzantines in a grandiose way. It is better to consider them in context. The way Nikolaos Mesarites (ca. 1200) describes, among others, some disciplines as taught in the Patriarchal School in the second bigger Church of the City i.e. the Holy Apostles (in the same location of the nowadays Fatih Camii) consists, among others, of an illustration of the different level of passion of Byzantines in relation to some disciplines. Arithmetic and Geometry for example are described not in a very high level of passion (I cannot have any opinion on the scholarly level of theirs in these two disciplines); these two fields were really an issue of intellectuals, not of the people. For Mesarites, the case of Grammar and mainly Medicine seems to be described in a somewhat “louder” level; especially the teachings about the seats (in brain or heart) of the objects of sensory faculties. Moreover, as for some intellectuals of the time, supported by considerable masses of common people, we reasonably can say that about the theologico-philosophical/dogmatic issues the scholarly level, and the passions of common people expressed, was much higher. The same we can say considering the passion that Mesarites, as an eyewitness, describes with his, now, well-known vivid and atypical style, the case of the teaching(s) of ecclesiastical chant in relation to ancient Greek music theory. If we look closer we will see that things weren’t the way Egon Wellesz tried to explain in E. Wellesz, A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography, 2nd Revised and Enlarged Edition 1961, [I make use of the reprint of 1980]). So I’ll give an extensive passage of him (since it contains a translation of two relative passages of Mesarites) in order to understand of what I am talking about (as for the Greek text I use the text of Downey [=D, in “Transactions of the American Philosophical Society,” Vol. 47.6, 1957 here; his English translation, is found on pp. 861-897], but in the modern Greek monotonic system in order to minimize compatibility problems of the electronic fonts. The MSS of the Mesarites’ text in Biblioteca Ambrosiana are now online, the A, F 93 sup. and the B, F 96 sup. ; square brackets, emphasis in bold and underlining mine). So, Wellesz’ text reads:


[p. 62] … In close connection with these subjects [dialectic and rhetoric] elementary training in music was given. [then Mesarites’ first extract, IX., is given:] ‘On the other, western side you can see hymn - singers with children, almost babes, stammering, just took from the breast. These infants open their mouths and talk wisdom and rehearse the praise of God the King of all, and of his saints, who imitate his Life and Passion. [D. 2] Going a little further you will find with young men just emerged from boyhood, singing a well - shaped song [D= sweet melody, εύρυθμον μέλος] and a well - sounding harmony [D= harmonius song, σύμφωνον αρμονίαν] with their throat, mouth, tongue, with their lips and teeth. [D. 3] They make conductor’s movements with their hands in order to guide the beginner in following the mode [ήχων] with his voice, that he may not slip away from the melodic line [μη του συντόνου εξολισθαίνειν], drop out of rhythm [ρυθμού καταπίπτειν], nor fall away from the other voices, nor sing out of tune [διαμαρτάνειν του εμμελούς].’ [Just after this excerpt Wellesz continues:]

Continuing his description of the church of Apostles, Mesarites suggests that teaching the theory of music [p. 63] is completely separated from elementary teaching in singing as described above. After dealing with the school of geometry, Mesarites draws a picture of the students who debate about tones and intervals. [then Wellesz’ second extract of Mesarites, XLII.9, reads:] ‘They argue with each other discussing terms unfamiliar to most people [τοις πολλοίς] or even unheard of, such as nete’s, hypate’s, and parhypate’s, mese’s and paramese’s instead [αντί] of strings; further they say that the interval which they call diatessaron is denominated epitritos, in agreement with the arithmeticians [επονομαζόμενος, be aware of this word, it is important for the echoi of the Greek chant]; but the interval called diapente seems to them to be a kind of hemiolios, corresponding to the diapente of the arithmeticians. And also, why the octave [ογδόη fem., more accurate translation: why the 8th string] is called [επικέκληται] diapason, why the first mode [ο των ήχων πρώτος] in it [in “her”] is found to be the principal, why they call [επωνόμασθαι] the fifteenth string disdiapason, and why the whole instrument is named fifteen - stringed when it has sixteen strings.’ [And Wellesz concludes:]

From this account, which is almost entirely nonsensical, it becomes evident that Greek musical theory had no connection whatever with Byzantine music [only to the part of Byzantine music preferred by Wellesz, of course, because Mesarites reports just the opposite] in the twelfth century. The latter [in a mutual exclusive way?] was taught merely as [always?] practical singing, the former was part of mathematical science. [then some elaboration with no citations is given] Mesarites drew his knowledge, directly or indirectly, from passages in the pseudo-Aristotelian Problems, the Eisagoge of Gaudentius, and the Encheiridion of Nicomachus, without understanding the subject-matter he cited. Not only did he no longer understand the meaning of the subject he tried [as we will see his piece of information is accurate and by no means “nonsensical”] to explain to the reader, but we may also accept as a fact [why?] his view that in his day the terms nete, hypate and parhypate were mere names, or were completely unknown to [all of?] them. They had no significance [in an ahistorical prospect?] in actual Byzantine musical practice [it is the same prospect for someone today to say that, according to her interests, the existence of not rudimentary elements in modern music theory/ies has no significance in actual singing; the 12 notes of piano and some, “the useful ones, to her,” conventions are enough; in a way “she is right” just for the kind of music(s) heard,  lively of course, by her!], and were only found in discussions on topics taken from classical authors.


This is the way Wellesz ends the chapter with the title THE BYZANTINE CONCEPTION OF MUSIC. I’ll try to be as brief as I can.


Wellesz’ (and Downey’s) translation, at least, of the word ογδόη=eighth (fem.) with the term octave (a word with modern music connotations) is misleadingly “neutral,” and draws his reader away from the, at least, ancient Greek musicotheoretical environment. So let us have a look on his text (I will not propose more corrections in the translation of Wellesz, in order to avoid confusion):

α) First and foremost, Mesarites (from a wealthy family of bureaucratic origins with knowledge of Greek classics and later antiquity scholars) is openly very passionate about musical issues. For us, at first level, it is not so important if he (later a Metropolitan of Ephesos) had a higher education in relation to chant but 1) how (due to his personal interests) he transmits his observations and mainly, 2) if - since these two are not mutual exclusive - he is an accurate observer, as he was less bound by literary convention than his contemporaries, he writes with a refreshing directness. (from the recent book of M. Angold). Instead of “trying,” according to Wellesz, to explain an issue he does not understand, he explains it in a “populist” way. The editor and translator of the text Downey (1957) gives such a view next to the “confident” and exclusive reading of Wellesz. In the footnote 10 of p. 895, Downey writes: is not impossible that the account which he [Mesarites] gives of the debates of the theorists is deliberately presented as nonsense. To understand such kind of practices and attitudes (see also Bydén p. 233, but thinking additionally the Vat. gr. 192 in this blog and Pachymeres’ treatise) at those times one can read the very beginning of Bryennios’ later treatise; this man is almost fully aware of how he will be treated (Jonker’ translation; emphasis and square brackets mine):


“…for I am not of those who are wont to distort and paraphrase cunningly what has been said by others correctly and clearly, on the pretence of saying something original. … yet I mention it because such people, even when they are absolutely incapable of grasping a certain scientific matter, endeavor to minimise [εξουδενούν] and ridicule [or calumniate, διαβάλλειν] this matter, hoping that thus it may seem to the masses [again, τοις πολλοίς, this wording is also attested in Planoudes’ conceptual sphere] and especially to those who generally hold all knowledge in contempt, that they are deprived of this knowledge not on account of the ineptitude of their minds, but because this knowledge is itself unreliable [σφαλερόν] and unprofitable [άχρηστον]; and therefore they are as eager as possible to consider it in many manners and to condemn out of hand, so to speak, those who apply themselves to it; and sometimes they simply use fallacious reasons, bringing up all the foolish arguments that they have been used before against this science by others of their kind.

As all this may be considered by means of the strings [χορδαίς] or tones [φθόγγοι] of the Complete Harmonic Tone-system [του τελείου του ηρμοσμένου θεωρείται συστήματος] it will be necessary to give first their number and the names that have been given to each of them….


Bryennios couldn’t imagine one more case: That his work would be treated only partially, as Harmonic Theory and not very “useful” to Octoechos phenomena and to a revealed in advance “actual Byzantine practice.” Let us return now to Mesarites remembering that the authorship of the   “Ethopoiia of a Mathematician” (not in the sense of a modern mathematician, of course) is ascribed (Flusin, 2002) to him; this is another text where he “sketches” an unnamed, again, personality he does not like. In the same manner in our extract, once more, our observer, tries (yes, this time “tries” is an appropriate verb) to - in Bryennios’ wording- calumniate also the unnamed intellectuals, who posed such theorizings [1*], by demonstrating that all these things are “confusing” and sometimes “incompatible” when he reports that ‘the whole instrument [of the one “group” of such a debate/διαμάχης] is named fifteen - stringed when it has sixteen strings.’ But, the same could be said, provocatively, about Bryennios’ p. 69.13: … and also that this system is made up of two eight-stringed lyres [2X8=16], i.e. of fifteen strings, (fifteen notes, in Jonker’s translation)

Interestingly, the passion in their debates, within one cultural environment (and the highest institutional level), is reported in more detail in the next chapter XLIII.1-3, which Wellesz failed to inform his readers about it as he didn’t realize that we have an important, in terms of consciousness, exchange here and, for sure, not a debate of nonsense. Indeed, these seriously debating people, as Mesarites reports, would ask for the judgment (and the elucidation of the matters of disagreement) of the then Patriarch John X Camateros. In the next XLIII.4-10, he describes the ecclesiastical and secular wisdom of this ecclesiastical figure. Especially for the secular knowledge, the abilities of Patriarch John are compared with other widely respected ancient authorities: with e.g. those of Nicomachos as an arithmetician, with Euclides as a geometrician and, yes, with Ptolemaios as, only (mainly because this is the matter of the debate), a μουσικός/musikós (there are also more reasons that Ptolemaios is cited only as Musikós). We do not informed if finally the Patriarch accepted to judge that musical debates but if this was the case then we understand the importance of Ptolemaios (also for Mesarites himself) as a criterion of appeasement than of a conclusive solution by one more personality of the “Christian heritage” (and legacy) John X Camateros, who belonged both to the Church, and the “scholarly circles.”


The existence of such kind of passionate attitudes leads to the opposite conclusion that one could see the medieval understanding(s) of ancient Greek music theory –in a misleadingly wholesale manner- as “strange” and nothing more than a not-useful nostalgic archaizing educational epitome; especially if we remember that the streams of Greek chant had their intellectual side (that used also ancient Greek material). In reality, Psellos himself, already in 11th century, expressed a well-known topos that denotes admiration and esteem to the width of ancient Greek music theorizing in relation to the then contemporary music. He wrote: “the kind of music which occupies our minds to-day is only a faint echo of the former.” (E. Wellesz p. 61) There are earlier Byzantine testimonies, escaped from Wellesz, of such a topos with more important documentation on this status of ancient Greek music and its medieval consideration(s) – certainly not only for educational purposes. Additionally, in our days we realize sometimes that ancient Greek music theory is considered monolithically as one, “the classical.”



[1*] The direct teachers of the children too have not to be excluded although they do not appear in the scene (see p.896 n. 2 of Donwey); Mesarites will write in the next chapter: now one thing, now another, is put forward for examination by the learners or by the teachers / μαθητιώντων ή και των διδασκόντων.


β) According to Mesarites those children argue about netes, hypates etc. “instead of strings”/αντί χορδών. Wellesz failed to realize the importance of the word instead/αντί of the extract, which means that, Mesarites reports, that there was one more (not only theoretical but also more widely known, especially by the audience of Mesarites’ text) way of determining the strings of, let’s say, a then psaltery/kithara alike instrument. Instruments with their tunings as a tool, at least, of scale instruction (as the term Kavália/chevalet we saw in this blog) should not be excluded - by using a declarative style- as something that belonged, exclusively, to the teachings of the “remote” “scholarly circles” and their behavior to intricate Byzantine chant phenomena. Moreover, because this extract of Mesarites uses the term eighth/ογδόη (in feminine gender, as the word string/χορδή is), a string numbering like 1st string, 2nd string…8th string is attested (remember a similar, much older, case in the superscriptions of the book of Psalms [not mention the Babylonian case]). Later, in early 14th c., Bryennios explains on p. 58.20ff. that an 8th string can, also, “historically” be understood in relation to paramese and the disjunction phenomenon. I wrote, additionally, somewhere else here in MM, about the strings of an instrument with the name Musike (one of the possible “manuals/tools” for music instruction [the existence of more than one kind of “manuals” should not be ruled out since “instruction” was not, and is not, only scales]) as is described in the Hagiopolites treatise.

Moreover, in a boarder perspective, the existence of more than one types of numbering or, even, naming of the strings should not been excluded, perhaps separately for each instrument. 



γ) Additionally, although for Mesarites the theoretical placement of protos echos on the 8th string, named “by them” Diapason, is presented as something not usual to the majority of the people, he perfectly understands that he reports about the relation of chant’s ordinals (1st mode, 2nd… plagal 1st, plagal 2nd,…) to their theoretical position in relation to some “strange” teachings expressed in that school. But for us, this is a report of another (then new?) theoretical stream of Greek chant, especially if we don’t choose to consider those teachers/students the way they are sketched. Additionally, because of α) and γ) we understand that Mesarites’ critique/provocation aimed mainly to this stream of the debating people. Furthermore, both “groups” because of β) used the “string factor” in their theorizing.


It is not, that is to say, a problematic of what such a “silly,” ca. 1200, theoretical stream/construction, with reference to ancient Greek music theory, had in relation to what “we” consider as “the actual Byzantine practice” (or an eigentliche Musiklehre within the Carolingians) in accordance to what we imagine  as “the useful” part of it, but to understand (just as, e.g., in the Carolingian framework) all its theoretical streams; and this, not only 1) to understand the evolution of the Greek (or Latin [2*]) chant, but also 2) to have more material for reconstruction(s) or even restitution(s)[3*]. As far as for the majority of the Byzantine people all these not fully understood issues were just an alibi in order to join or belong to a certain “party with its own intellectuals” (or even, were “useless,” though in a different way for every single person). Such a case is, just, one more aspect to consider, not “the case.” So, I will not insist, here, to any reconstruction and on the position of those two streams in relation to the other theoretical streams; in this post, let us stick to the report of Mesarites and its “nonsensical” perspective (and its consequences) according to Wellesz.


As a matter of fact, Wellesz equated the supposed "nonsensical" character of Mesarites' narrative to the desired "nonsensical" relation – using, additionally, a decreasing process (e.g. “mere names, or completely absent”) - of an ancient Greek music theory (in my view: its several medieval readings) aspect of the chant in the tiny, then, eastern Roman State. The result of such an effort is a “visionary” ideal, proposed as a metatheory, where important pieces of evidence are bypassed.

Furthermore, their existence, especially of one more theoretical stream of Greek chant ca. 1200, would weaken – especially to the majority of the unsuspected Latin chant people- an exoticized, “obvious,” “less changed” and of an easy to digest “restricted positivism” image of an imagined (in terms of a specific a posteriori “usefulness”) “actual Byzantine musical practice” and it’s description by a “unified [Byzantine] theory.”




[2*] Imagine a hypothetical state of affairs where Martianus and Boethius (as well as, mainly, all their medieval scholia and glosses) to be considered as not very important for Latin chant because, e.g. “we can prove” that terms like proslambanomenos, hypate etc. - to use a similar to Wellesz’ wording - had no significance for the most medieval people of the “actual Latin chant practice.” Indicative of that would be the following –directly connected to the way we see Greek chant- problematic: Is it worthwhile for Pachymeres’ and Bryennios’ treatises (and the scholia on Ptolemaios’ Harmonica appeared in this blog) to be included in the future construction of the Greek part of the - proposed here in my post dated December 15, 2019- multilingual Lexicum Musicum Medii Aevi?


[3*] For example, by giving room to plausible reconstructions which use intervals different than tone and semitone. And this not only as far as the, additional, use of the intervals of even/equal/ομαλόν diatonic genre of Ptolemaios as appeared in the eight Greek sources we described in this blog.

Comment by Oliver Gerlach on January 8, 2020 at 9:24

Dear Pavlos

I am not motivated to continue here an exchange, since your answers convinced me that it is a one way road with somebody at the end, who is not able to communicate, because he has decided to hold back part of his knowledge. I know this attitude from myself, when I decided to live in another country. While you try too hard to adapt, you also do realise that it does not help others to find a way to them. On the contrary, it is much more communicative to try the impossible to express your thoughts in the language of the country, where you do live. I suppose it is a common experience... I am not bothered, when I realise that certain people do not understand the Greek terminology, even if it is the base of any Latin treatise concerned with music theory. I am used to it, since the viva of my doctoral thesis to be precise at the Humboldt-Universität of Berlin, to be precise. I can do it, because I wrote a glossary in my thesis (but it was written in German). I wrote another glossary in English two years ago (orginally for my students, since it was part of a contract I had with a certain University), and everyone who needs an explanation can learn this terminology (just visit my account at teaching documents), if it is really necessary! You see, if you have done your homework, it is always possible to encourage everyone without being rude or exclusive. My advice for you I have given already: just relax yourself... But for someone of your manners you will hardly be surprised, if not every answer here was meant seriously.

Allow me one other personal remark. As I already said, we met only once in person which was in Lillafüred in 2004. Now it is more than 15 years ago and I have never been a second time at a Cantus planus conference, although I would like to go there again... I was asked to come this year to Brno, I tried to agree and to make appointments, but I realised that I cannot afford such a high participation fee. After all these years I never thought, what participants might have thought about me (when it was still reasonable to imagine that they do remember me). But your way to protect the Gregorianists from me made me wonder... Obviously very few are aware that I made once (it might have been in 2005) suggestions to improve a dialogue between scholars concerned only with Eastern chant with those concerned only with Western chant. Yes, such an separation did (and does) exist indeed, and as someone who he is not suffering from being so mono-thematic I was also the one who suggested the “Eastern party” whom to address within the “Western party” and to suggest also subjects and Latin sources which might be interesting for them. It was probably surprising for myself, but they did exactly as I suggested and it did work out quite well. Thus, in a way I am still present at Cantus planus meetings also during my absence. You have already realised that I also address sometimes colleagues who are not even interested to be addressed by me. Your observation is correct, I might have my reasons to do so. I have many conferences to attend (since I am not only concerned with history, but actually working an an ethnomusicologist) that it is not always possible to be everywhere. There is no better reason to excuse my absence, but if one invites me, I usually try hard to come.

One last remark of less private nature, since you asked me how you should describe manuscripts here at musicologie médiévale, since my own example has obviously caused an irritation. The form I use was simply adapted to the very short description by Christian Meyer for his amazing list of manuscripts at BnF (first the date as a Latin numeral for the century, then the bold dot), because also Dominique Gatté adapted to it. It is very kind of you to suspect that behind all of my descriptions is original research. How could I do that, since nobody pays me for the job (and I also never asked anyone to be paid for it unlike Dominique).

My only background is that the Staatsbibliothek of Berlin had a box full of Ottoman Greek manuscripts, and it was a singer of my ensemble who “discovered” them during her practicum at the music department. She did a good job, because they just got it from the Oriental department and they just wanted to send it to another one! Among them was a sticherarion kalophonikon with almost 2000 pages written by Gabriel of Yeniköy. I needed months to describe its content. Nobody paid me and the librarians still do not pass the information on to readers. I have to publish it myself. But this was my way of learning by doing and to get acquainted of the very common ignorance among librarians which you even find at institutions such as the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (once the Köngliche Bibliothek of Prussia), and believe me even in Paris and Athens the situation is not very much better. I think it is very useful to pass at least these informations on in social networks visited potential readers who might consult manuscripts, since many of these instiutions are not able to provide them, even after I addressed the librarians personally.

The other problem is that most manuscripts have only a very vague datation, while most bibliographical databases use biblatex for the date field as a common format which requires four numbers XXXX. The unelegant way is to turn “XI” into “1001–1100” (note the long stroke which is only accepted!) or to define the middle of it such as ca. 1050 (whole century),  1080 (last third), 1090 (last quarter) etc. I usually consult different opinions, before I write the date. A preceding “about” will usually do the job to avoid the misunderstanding that I might know the precise date of a manuscript!

There are only two exceptions, where I found the common datations rather fishy, and you mentioned both here several times: F-Pn grec 360 and 261. These are exceptional cases! In both I mentioned it explicitly (usually also all the theories around such datations) and also the reasons, why I find the datation more than unlikely!

Comment by Oliver Gerlach on December 28, 2019 at 19:22

Do not worry about my deadlines.

You can meanwhile (after you improved my description of the Great Lavra manuscripts), re-read my posts with focus on tone system, because you delivered an exact description of your drawers which prevented you to think...

If you would like to continue, you should avoid to leave your dialogue partner with the impression that he is just wasting his time with you. If there comes something substantial, I might answer to it.


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