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date: 27 January 2020

Byzantine chantlocked

  • Kenneth Levy
  • , revised by Christian Troelsgård


Music of the liturgical rite of the Christian Roman Empire of the East from the time of the establishment of Constantinople (at the site of ancient Byzantium) in the early 4th century and persisting beyond the interruption of the Eastern imperial succession by the Ottoman conquest in 1453. The rite is still practised by tens of millions of Eastern Orthodox Christians whose native language, or liturgical language, is Greek. Through translation into Syriac, Coptic, Arabic, Armenian, Georgian, Church Slavonic, and other languages, it has remained the dominant liturgy of the Christian East during the past 1500 years. Its influence at various times has spread as far west as Spain (in the 6th century), and to north-east and south Italy (where isolated pockets still exist). It has prevailed in north-east Africa (Patriarchate of Alexandria), throughout Greece and Palestine (Patriarchate of Jerusalem), through most of the Christian Near East (Patriarchate of Antioch), all Russia, other Slavonic nations, and Romania. The main focus of the following discussion is the music of the Greek rite before the fall of Constantinople. The Byzantine chant continued, however, to flourish after this event, specifically in monasteries throughout the former empire and at the patriarchal see of Constantinople. Almost all the medieval chant repertory survives in manuscript sources with musical notation, and in this respect Byzantine chant is comparable to the repertories of the Roman and Ambrosian (Milanese) Churches in the West....

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