Elements in the development of how the Great Doxologies were sung from the 18th to the 19th century

  • Gerasimos Sofoklis Papadopoulos University of Athens
  • Polykarpos Polykarpidis co-author
Keywords: exegesis, music change, Old Method ambiguity


The main protagonist of the 19th century reformation, Chrysanthos, bishop of Madyta, as well as important 20th century scholars such as Constantinos Psachos and Gregorios Stathis, claimed that old Byzantine melodies transferred unchanged over the centuries through a process called “exegesis”. According to them, this was a kind of transcription of the melodies from a mainly stenographic to a more analytical version of the old Byzantine notation. Hence, the New Method system allowed these melodies to be notated in the most detailed and accurate way, so far.

In our research, we question the validity of this theory at least concerning the way of singing Great Doxologies. On the one hand, we analyze different exegeses of the same old Doxologies, in which we find important variations regarding the interchangeability between syllabic and neumatic approach, the addition of extra melismata at the end of some phrases, and the choice of the point where “neumatization” starts. On the other hand, we compare two old Doxologies recorded in middle-18th century in five-line score with their exegeses made by Chourmouzios Chartofylax in early-19th century, where, in addition to the above-mentioned variations, we observe a differentiation in the whole texture of the two versions.

Thus, we conclude that Old Method was partly ambiguous at least at the period before the New Method reformation, while we suspect that a semantic shifting of the term exegesis occurred at the same period. Furthermore, we present two ideas that may justify the development that took place, the one related to a redistribution of the tempo and the other to a possible rubato interpretation of Byzantine chants that gradually became mensuralistic.

Conference Papers: Sounds of the Holy, Joensuu 2019
Nov 30, 2020
How to Cite
Papadopoulos, Gerasimos Sofoklis, and Polykarpos Polykarpidis. 2020. “Elements in the Development of How the Great Doxologies Were Sung from the 18th to the 19th Century”. Journal of the International Society for Orthodox Music 4 (2), 293-322. https://journal.fi/jisocm/article/view/95235.