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In Greek and Byzantine theory, the octave (or double octave) and singing in octaves.

Article

Dimitri Conomos

A melodic intonation formula in Byzantine chant, sung to nonsense words. It is intoned by the domestikos (precentor) in order to introduce the ēchos (mode) of the hymn (see Ēchos, §2). The formulae for the modes of the Oktōēchos are: ananeanes (ēchos protos...

Article

Ēchos  

Miloš Velimirović

A technical term in Byzantine chant, usually translated ‘mode’ or ‘modality’.

There is considerable difference between the Eastern and Western European understanding of modality. In the West, the term ‘mode’ most often means a scale or ‘octave species’; but an ēchos depends rather on a ‘mood’, which is in turn dependent on the types of melody found in that ...

Article

W.H. Frere, Owen Jander and Peter Cooke

A deviation from a pitch or pitches regarded in some way as standard.

(1) In Gregorian and other chant, the term ‘inflection’ is generally reserved for simple customary deviations from a monotone reciting note (tenor, tuba) dictated by considerations of punctuation during the singing of prose texts: the simplest method of singing a religious service, or part of one, may be described as ‘monotone with inflections’. It is often said that the inflected recitative originated for practical reasons: that it made the text more intelligible, that it helped readers by providing simple melodies that would serve for many texts, and that it made words and voice more audible in large gatherings. Though partly true, such explanations are probably too narrow. The formulaic solo chants especially are examples of sacral song-speech found in many religions and cultures, the explanation of which lies largely in the psychology of the religious mind. The regulation and codification of lesson formulae, psalm tones and related matters imposed in the Middle Ages on the old oral traditions of this song-speech gave it the trappings of practicality but obscured its origins....

Article

Limma  

André Barbera

In ancient Greek music theory the interval that remains when two whole-tone intervals are subtracted from a perfect 4th. The whole tone is the difference between a perfect 5th and a perfect 4th. The limma is also the difference between three octaves and five perfect 5ths, in other words, the diatonic semitone. Several ancient writers defined the limma, among them Ptolemy (...

Article

Melisma  

Richard L. Crocker

A group of more than five or six notes sung to a single syllable. The term may be applied universally, but has been most used in reference to medieval European music, particularly chant. ‘Melismatic’ indicates one end of a spectrum; the other is ‘syllabic’, or one note to each syllable. An intermediate category, with several notes to a syllable, is sometimes termed ‘neumatic’....

Article

Neuma  

David Hiley

A term used in the Middle Ages with several distinct, but related meanings, fundamentally connected with the notion of a musical phrase. Two Greek-Latin terms, neuma (‘gesture’) and pneuma (‘breath’, also used in the sense of ‘Holy Spirit’) were often confused and amalgamated. In a transferred sense the word came to signify the notational sign representing a melodic gesture (...

Article

Peter Jeffery

The system of the eight ‘church modes’ (the ‘musical’ oktōēchos) in the medieval Latin, Byzantine, Slavonic, Syrian, Armenian and Georgian repertories of Christian liturgical chant. Also, by association, the practice of grouping chants by mode (the ‘calendric’ oktōēchos) so that they can be sung in numerical order over a period of time, usually one mode per week, proceeding to the next higher number each Sunday and beginning with the 1st mode again when the 8th is completed. And a book (the ‘liturgical’ ...

Article

Richard Sherr

(Lat., from Gk.: ‘sounding beside’). A term used in the writings of a number of Greek theorists (notably Thrasyllus, Pseudo-Longinus and Bryennius) to designate the intervals of the 4th and 5th. In 1928, Peter Wagner called attention to the appearance of a similar term in the ...

Article

Pyrrhic  

Thomas J. Mathiesen

One of several ancient Greek rhythmic patterns, by extension also applied to a war dance. In metric theory (e.g. Hephaestion, Handbook, 3; Aristides Quintilianus, On Music, i.22; etc.), the pyrrhic foot consists of two short syllables (〮〮) and is employed in such meters as iambic and ionic (Aristides Quintilianus, ...

Article

Richard Sherr

In Western chant, a section to be repeated, such as the refrain in hymns or the last part of the respond of a responsory, which is repeated after the psalm verse. In Ordo romanus I (second half of the 8th century) and later, the term ‘versus ad repetendum’ designated extra psalm verses added as needed to the Mass introit and communion. According to Husmann, the words ‘ad repetendum’ were also used in the Middle Ages for additional tropes to the introit antiphon....

Article

In late Greek and medieval theory, consonance, as opposed to diaphonia or dissonance. The word symphonos also sometimes meant a unison as distinct from antiphonos, an octave, and paraphonos, a 4th or 5th.

Article

Tonos  

Thomas J. Mathiesen

A term with various meanings in the tradition of ancient Greek music theory. It could refer to a pitch (tasis), a note (phthongos), the size of an interval (diastēma), or a ‘scalar mode’ (tropos sustēmatikos). The last two definitions came to be synonymous as referring to a particular overall pitching of the musical system....

Article

The late medieval name for one of the ‘irregular’ psalm tones, that is, one whose tenor, or recitation tone, changes in pitch after the mediation (in this case from a to g). It takes its name either from this characteristic or from its association with Psalm cxiii, ...

Article

Tripous  

Warren Anderson and Thomas J. Mathiesen

A triple kithara said by the historian Artemon of Cassandrea (fl 2nd century bce), probably following Aristotle’s pupil Dicaearchus (fl c326–296 bce), to have been invented in the 5th century bce by the music theorist Pythagoras of Zacynthus (Athenaeus, xiv, 637b–f). It had a revolving base, and a touch of the performer’s foot made the Dorian, Phrygian or Lydian mode instantly available. Whether or not the instrument (or indeed its inventor) actually existed, Artemon’s account of it has importance for modal theory and organology. Sachs pointed out the most obvious inference: the idea of such a multiple instrument can be based only on the assumption that even at this early period modes differed radically from one another. Light is also thrown on the disputed question of the function of the left hand in lyre playing: the placing of the left hand somehow within the upper part of the tripod remains inexplicable, unless it is seen in relation to a standard technique whereby the fingers of this hand damped strings rather than plucked them....