Byzantine compositions entitled "Dysikon" (Western) and "Fragikon" (Frankish)

A working hypothesis on potential convergence points of two different traditions


  • Flora Kritikou


In Byzantine musical manuscripts a number of compositions entitled thetalikon, politikon or persikon are regularly found. As is generally accepted, titles as thetalikon or politikon indicate an analogous origin for these chants, while, respectively, in the case of persikon an influence from a so-called “external chant” is suggested. In the same way, other titles as dysikon and fragikon, meaning “Frankish” and “Western”, are also detected; these, according to the practice of Byzantines scribes and composers, denote a western or Frankish origin and/or a certain influence of western music and liturgical practice, respectively. These eponymous and anonymous works may be found amongst compositions dating from between the second half of the 13th century and the first half of the 14th century, and in works composed in the second half of the 15th century, the 16th and the 17th. The settings of the first category, as also their composers, can be located in Constantinople after the fall of the City to the Crusaders at the beginning of the 13th century and the period of the Frankish occupation. The compositions of the second category clearly belong to the musical output of Venetian-ruled Crete. Their common trait is that their composers are related in some way to the Frankish or Venetian occupation.

The purpose of this study is to identify the morphological or other traits of these compositions considered by their composers or scribes as denoting a certain western influence, which is apparently expressed in the above-mentioned titles.

Conference Papers
Jan 3, 2020

How to Cite

Kritikou, Flora. 2020. “Byzantine Compositions Entitled "Dysikon" (Western) and ‘Fragikon’ (Frankish): A Working Hypothesis on Potential Convergence Points of Two Different Traditions”. Journal of the International Society for Orthodox Music 3 (January):191-99.