Aculturation as a Possibility for Creation of the Orthodox Monody in Byzantino-Slavonic Music in Macedonia

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Aculturation as a Possibility for Creation of the Orthodox Monody in Byzantino-Slavonic Music in Macedonia

From the above mentioned point of view that church music and folk music had been undiferrentiated in the beginning of the development of Byzantino-Slavonic music, it seems logical to assume that in the later course of the development of church music, number of melo-rhytmic patterns and formulas had been kept and had remained common for the both spheres, existing in symbiosis. This assumption could be firmed with the fact that the verbal transmission had been dominant in the frames of growth and development of orthodox church music. Speaking about the aculturation as a phenomenon, the Vietnamese musicologist Tran Van Khe uses the synonims “hybrid” and “hybridization”. Those synonims, not tending to have a pejorative meaning, are meant to define the new musical entities, produced by blending in the process of aculturation. Making in the same context a distinction between two types of hybridization: the first, which impoverishes and sometimes destroyes the national character of one of the two blended traditions, and the second, which brings to bloom and enrichement of the tradition with the assimilation of the alien elements, Tran Van Khe correctly concludes that in the latter case, the enrichement is attributed to the fact that the “borrowed” elements are compatible with the original tradition of the “borrower”, while in the former case happens quite the opposite. “The biggest part of the authors in the field dissagree with this concept of compatibility and incompatibility. However, in biology, joining compatible elements makes succesful combination, while the contact between incompatible elements results in the phenomenon of rejection”5F. With this metaphore we can explain the usefulness of musical orientalisms, which have found in Macedonian folkloral-music sphere a succesfull host. This mixture, from the other hand, takes part in an other succesfull “hybridization” – with the Byzantino-Slavonic music in Macedonia.
One of the most represented and most significant issues which concern this part of the musical byzantology is the issue of presence or absence of chromatics in Byzantine and Byzantino-Slavonic church chants. As regards the 19th century, the century of the Chrisant’s reform, we search for the answers to this issue in the sphere of aculturational relations and influences where, above all, the influence of the folklore on church-musical sphere becomes the focus of the scientific interest. The reason for this is that scientific discourse concerning chromatics in Byzantine and Byzantino-Slavic music of that period has been leaning upon the existence of so called “positive aculturation”, identical to above mentioned “positive mixture”, where elements of the oriental music, by the folklore-musical fundaments of the related cultures, infiltrate into the sound space of the church music. However, the biggest part of the Greek Byzantology still keeps the standpoint of undoubtedness of the diatonic character of Byzantine music. For example, in the frequently quoted study (doctoral disertation) of Dimitry Conomos concerning the Byzantine trisagia and cheroubika in 14th and 15th century, not a single chromatic movement has been pointed out in the numerous transcribed melodies6F.
In the meanwhile, what about the rest of the longlasting development of Byzantine and Byzantino-Slavonic music, considering the aspect of hypothetical implicit existence of chromatics and chromatic movements since its first beginnings? It seems logical to assume that chromatizms could not be absent in this music, which owes one part of its tradition to the Ancient Greek music. And it is well known that the Ancient Greek music explicitely recognizes chromatics and its specificities. However, the assumption that chromatizms are contained in the context of neumaticaly marked figures-formulas concerning the movement of the melody of the related ihos, seems the most truthfull. Accepting this hypothesis, which seems particularly significant for the postbyzantine period – untill the Chrisant’s reform, we support the point of view that it is not necesarry to look for a systematizated type of chromatic movement in neumatic records, but it is logical to consider the existence of those movements in an improvized form in the practical work of the famous music authors and singers7F. In the same context, a very interesting point of view is the one about the chromatic alterations which are a result of transpositions of higher or lower position of certain melodical sequences, i.e. “knees” (fragments)8F. As a support of this standpoint there have been a number of hystorical data which speak that “… in the older Byzantine hymns chromatic modulations had been represented in shorter melodical fragments. In the later period they could be noticed in the more developed melodies written down in Koukouzeles’ notation. On the turn into the chromatic sound system there is the sign ‘nenano’ – modified residue of the Ancient Greek chromatic system”9F. Not counting the principles of chromatical sound relations, which Byzantine and later Byzantino-Slavonic music have undoubtedly inherited from the old Greek musical theory, one of the key arguments to support the thesis about the imanent existence of chromatics in Byzantine music is the well known fact that the eastern church singing had been created on geographic areas where specific sensibility in melopoethic structures has been present at all times. In this respect, it is very unlikely that the Syrian John Damaskin, who had established the Byzantine Octoih in the 8th century, taking first of all as its basis melodies from the eastern christian countries (and above all – from his own fatherland Syria), could possibly avoid melodic formulas of the eastern sensibility. And the chromatic movements represent one of the most significant structures of the eastern sensibility.
Those kinds of issues represent only a part of the huge treasury of still undisovered treasures hidden in Byzantino-Slavonic music in Macedonia, and generally in the spiritual music of these areas, as respect its total developmental continuity. In the same time, this paper represents a contribution towards the continuation of the main direction of the Macedonian musicology – discovering new manuscripts and relevant facts in the field of Byzantology, which will establish philosophicaly-esthetical basis of the autochtone values of Macedonian spiritual musical heritage. It is necesarry to stress again that the most significant characteristic of Byzantine spiritual culture has been its estheticity, which is an estheticity sui generis, and which appears as the first and the last determinating factor in shaping of all Byzantino-Slavonic spiritual cultures which had been under the influence of Byzantine spiritual culture, including here in the first place – the one in Macedonia.


5. Tran Van Khe, “Akulturacija u muzickim tradicijama Azije”, Zvuk (Sarajevo), br. 2 1974, s. 147
6. Dimitri E. Conomos, Byzantine Trisagia and Cheroubika of the Fouteenth and Fiftheenth Centuries, Thessaloniki, 1974
7. Dragoslav Ortakov, “Kon prasanjeto za hromatikata vo vozantisko-slovenskata muzika”, Makedonska muzika (Skopje), br.6 1986, s. 24
8. Christian Thodberg, Chromatic Alterations in the Sticherarium, Actes du XII congres international d’etudes byzantine a Ochride, 1961, Belgrade, 1964, pp. 607-612
9. Metodij Simonovski, “ Orijentalizmi u tonalnoj gradji nasih narodnih melodija “, Zvuk (Beograd), br. 26-27 1959, s 220

AuthorBoris Ortakov
2018-08-21T17:24:01+00:00 January 1st, 1999|Categories: Reviews, Sound, Blesok no. 06|0 Comments