Handwritten Irmologia – an innovative means of the transmission of liturgical music in the Carpathian area
This paper deals with aspects of a culture related to several nations, ethnic and religious communities in the Carpathian area, especially in the region of the Eparchy of Mukačevo, i.e., Eastern Slovakia, Sub-Carpathian Rus ́, South-Eastern Poland and North-Eastern Hungary. Geographically, these regions have always been borderlands. In the cultural, religious and liturgical context they have represented a bridge between East and West. Locally based co- existence does not connote a cliché, but real intercultural, interethnic, interreligious relations among Slovaks, Poles, Ruthenians, Ukrainians, Hungarians, among Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant believers.
All these facts affected and were highly specific to the Carpathian region for centuries. In this paper I examine one of the results of Carpathian scribal practice – the Irmologia, particularly those from the 17th-19th centuries. The production of handwritten Irmologia is a defining characteristic of the Carpathian tradition of liturgical music. Even though they were intended to be exact duplicates or each other, variations in graphical forms, repertoire, music and language suggest influences from the scribes’ cultural, religion and ethnical backgrounds. I shall also discuss educational practice and the scribes, who were not only simple copyists, but artists who produced and transmitted these various local forms of Byzantine-Slavonic liturgical chant, the so-called Carpathian prostopinije. All the facts presented will lead us towards the main thesis, namely, that the Irmologion written in five-line quadratic notation was an innovative means of the transmission of liturgical music in the Carpathia-specific context.