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The hymn book Octoechos[edit]

Actually "Octoechos" is a book in use in Orthodox Christian churches that contains chants with Ressurrection content in all the 8 Byzantine Music Modes... I will collect more information.

This is wrong, and not just because this book is more commonly known by another name in the Greek churches which I cannot now recall. You might be familiar with the Sunday Octoechos only, which is the most commonly available in English, but there are Octoechos chants for every day of the week. This is also available in English from at least two sources, but since it's more expensive and not used as often in parishes it's not seen as often.
It's only the Sunday chants that are called "Resurrectional tones" due to the Resurrectional character of the Sunday services, but this is inaccurate in modern usage -- at least Slavic usage; I'm not so familiar with Greek chant. The tones -- which is to say, the musical modes (in modern use the actual melodies) -- don't change, only the words do.

I think there is a slight confusion between "Octhoechos" and "Paraklitiki". The former contains only the Ressurectional chants per mode (that is saturday vespers-sunday matins), whereas, the latter, chants for every day of the week per mode. I found out the hard way when i purchased myself a copy of octoechos expecting that it would contain the chants of the whole week per mode and it actually didn't. Tryfon (talk) 12:23, 28 November 2007 (UTC)

The 8-tone system predates the organization of liturgical chant around it by St. John of Damascus. In origin it therefore meant not the words of the chants themselves, but the musical modes in which they are to be sung. With regard to this modal system, the article is not inaccurate to the best of my knowledge. I'm therefore removing the {{accuracy}} tag, which I can only imagine was added in good faith with regard to the above comment. (The editor who added it didn't actually say why on this page as he should have, so if there's a good reason for it I hope its removal will spark some discussion.) TCC (talk) (contribs) 04:57, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Origins Disputed[edit]

Actually it is the origins section that it is disputed. It is without sources and ignorant of other theories. No mention of Ancient Greek modes etc. I am sorry to say, that very few Western scholars comprehend the modes of the Greek Orthodox Church and their relationship to the Hellenistic world. --Kupirijo 06:30, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Okay. I may have had a different version of the article in mind. I didn't read this one closely, but I could have sworn there was once a description of the ancient modes. Or perhaps I was thinking of a different reference. Anyway, given that explanation I'm not going to argue about replacement of the tag. TCC (talk) (contribs) 07:37, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Putting {{disputed}} seems like overkill for on that basis. Shouldn't there be at least one specific factual assertion in the article that is in dispute? There are unsourced statements, true: so tag it with {{sources}}. There are other points of view that ought to be added - fine, add them. But I don't see a basis here for saying that the factual accuracy of the article is disputed. Mrhsj 22:51, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

First off, Kupirijo, are you a chanter? Second, it is a huge overstatement to say that very few Western scholars comprehend the modes of the Greek Orthodox Church. In basic terms, Byzantine Chant is a form of atonal music. Now if your telling me an average music professor can't understand what a microtone is or what atonal music is; then they have no right to be considered a "scholar". But yes, there is a problem with the origins section. How in the world is 8 modes with different tuning settings for each simple? Also, Western and Byzantine music seem to be inter-related at the end of the article when mentioning the 8 modes. Unless, of course, it can be shown that there were atonal aspects to Western music. But yes, Byzantine and Western music have had some sort of Jewish influence. Other than this, the article is pretty good. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:24, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

By the way I am a singer, and whoever wrote the last comment, would probably be surprised how many music professors have to be regarded in the wrong place, if you really expect these standards—but a badly educated professor today is even better than no professor at all. It is part of Western music history, that the official academic discipline of music theory is separated from a deeper reception of Ancient Greek science thanks to the Latin reception and its simplifications (which had been once a loss and a great effort at the same time). On the other hand, we have Greece, the Balkans, and the Orient in the East, and Andalusia and North Africa in the Southwest, who have this deeper knowledge. In practice (not always in theory) singers skilled in modal tonality, do not hear microtones in the way of modern atonal music, which is most consequently realized in an equal tempered way of half, quarter, and eighth tones. But they hear proportions and beat frequencies, and there is very poor enlightenment in conservatories how to deal with it. This is not completely abandoned in Western music, because composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen were capable to integrate proportions in serial techniques of music composition.
But at the end, there are two different worlds and I would regard the deep admiration that maqam singers pay for Western musicians who can sing together constantly slightly out of tune, as a model for the admiration that Western musicians who were also often inspired by the subtleties of Oriental monodic chant, owe to the musicians of the other world that they are used to locate in the East.
Platonykiss (talk) 16:05, 6 May 2012 (UTC)


I've added a section about the liturgical book. I've also moved the {{accuracy}} tag to the origins section where it appears, based on the comments above, to have been intended. I don't know if there is an accuracy tag that refers to a section rather than the entire article. If so, it would be good to replace it here. MishaPan 23:09, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

I split the book material off into its own article, which I think it deserves. These two subjects are related, but not identical. TCC (talk) (contribs) 23:45, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Enharmonic Scale Description Disputed[edit]

My understanding is that Byzantine enharmonic echoi are not, in general, playable on a modern Western 12-equal instrument. While the small steps of the Byzantine diatonic are slightly larger than those of a modern Western diatonic, the small steps of the Byzantine Enharmonic are typically smaller than those of a modern Western diatonic and may be as small as a quarter-tone. However I accept that the 12-equal version could be taken as a borderline case of a Byzantine enharmonic. My sources are scales described in the Scala archive as Byzantine Enharmonics. I wrote the section on Byzantine Enharmonics in some years ago and it has not yet been disputed. It is confirmed in which I had nothing to do with. The almost complete disparity between ancient Greek enharmonic tetrachords and Byzantine enharmonic tetrachords only makes sense if enharmonic in this context was taken (misunderstood?) to mean "containing approximate quartertones". The ancient Greek enharmonic tetrachord contains two such intervals, the Byzantine enharmonic tetrachord contains only one and would be better called an improper diatonic or hard diatonic. D.keenan 06:43, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

Lack of bibliographical references, ahistoric perspective, and the problematic use of the term "papadic" and "scales"[edit]

This article, although it is long, has quoted very few bibliographical references and gives no evidence of the main sources, which should be quoted in an encyclopedical entry about the eight mode system. The whole rubric for the Cite:templates does still not exist (please use them, so that bibliographical data can also transferred by plugins like zotero).

Another fundamental lack is the ahistorical view on Byzantine chant. The eight modes are regarded here according to the living practice, as it is known among singers of various Orthodox traditions today, its point of reference is modern tonality in Western music, and the Latin theory concerning the Octoechos is still not mentioned at all, although the comparative article by Peter Jeffery is quoted. I recommend to refer to Peter Jeffery's essay "The Earliest Oktoechoi", because the New Grove article is rather a bibliography to this fundamental study. A discussion of the transformations that the Octoechos has gone through in the period of kalophonic art since 1261, would explain how it is possible to refer today to the Octoechos reform of the 7th century before John of Damascus. Because the whole period is not mentioned, there is also a profound ignorance of the papadic genre. There is no reference to the reception of the Hagiopolitan octoechos in the treatise type Papadikē (παπαδική), and the papadic or papadikan chant genre consists of melismatic (in kalophonic elaboration) troparia originally used as a simple refrain in the practice of psalmody. The text is free and does not necessarily refer to the recited psalms or biblical odes, please think of the cherouvikon or of the trisagion...

I rewrote larger parts of the section "scales" and changed its title. The reference here is genus (gr. genos). The scales and its structure divided by a pentachord and tetrachord is described here according to Chrysanthos' Mega Theoretikon, not according to the medieval theory that the echoi of the diatonic protos, devteros, tritos and tetartos pair use each the same octave, but the kyrios finalis is on the top of the pentachord and the plagios finalis on the bottom. I recommend to mention also the presence of three tone systems (eptaphonia, tetraphonia, triphonia), because the Western theory knows only the first and is used to refer to it as to the σύστημα τέλειον.

So there is still a need for a profound revision.--Platonykiss (talk) 11:52, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Arabian reception and the Jewish origin[edit]

I don't comment on the hypothesis of a Jewish origin of the oktoechos. The main problem is that there are very few Hebrew sources about the practice of synagogal chant, although there was certainly an influence on the Greek recitation of the Halakha between Christians and Sephardim, it was hardly in the time of the hymnographic reform (7th-9th century). The usual references to a Hebrew origin are Arabic sources which memorize the prophets to 12 melodic modes, which are called in Arabic "naġme". There is an Old-Persian system of 7 advar, and since al-Kindi (8th century) there are certain Arabic terms which are translations of Greek terms used in ancient music theory. Medieval piyyutim became interested in the new poetic genres of Andalusia and its modes (tubū‘, created by the school of Ziryab in Cordoba, the unloved student and rival of Ishaq Mawsili in Bagdad), and after their expulsion by the Inquisition they soon adapted to the Eastern makamlar and its poetic forms, after they had come to Alexandria, Kairo, Smyrna, Istanbul, Edirne, and Thessaloniki.

According to Neubauer's article about the oktoechos, Arabian music was regarded in an Arabic divan as a synthesis of Byzantine (Damascus) and Persian music, which are generally the main reference points for the Islamic civilization. There was a deep interest for the Greek oktoechos, because every sound could be classified according to this system. In his article you will find all the sources and references which are relevant for the octoechos issue.--Platonykiss (talk) 12:20, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

I also added the discussion of the eight week cycle since Eric Werner, in recent research (see Frøyshov in the bibliography) it has rather concentrated on a concept of the cathedral rite with the Sunday as additional day (eight days, octave, eight echoi, octechos as eight week cycle, eight weeks before Easter as Lent etc.) which is a sabbatical concept of Hebrew origin (already 4th century).
Platonykiss (talk) 15:47, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

Comment on the Oversize of this Article and the Use of Technical Terms[edit]

This article is a prototype for an article of the complex topic "Octoechos", because it integrates the current knowledge and the most recent studies and combines them with the advanced technology of wikipedia and the current possibilities to study digitized manuscripts. If you know a better one, please let me know. I am always curious to learn something new.

It is without any doubt much too long, not because it is redundant, but because its content should be shared with plenty other articles. But for the current state of this encyclopaedia and its way of treating related topics, it was easier for now to leave it in one article. In return you got a lot of very precious material.

But please don't be afraid to think about how to balance its content with some related articles. Some of them offer very few information on their issues, while others still do not exist at all. I beg your pardon, that I had not the time to improve 20 articles and create 10 missing ones, instead I preferred to write a long one about this central topic, and respected all issues of former authors. My intention is to use this public place to distribute a usually rather incompletely presented topic and confront experts as well as interested readers with the current (lack of) knowledge. I would be very pleased, if some could rewrite their own abridged and simplified version at the "Simple English" platform. Anyway I am confident that content of this article will improve not only one article.

I apologize for my use of technical terms. I prefer to use the terms of the quoted treatises and I assure that even experts do not understand them completely. But someone who is experienced in chant and cares about its tradition, might in contrary find my decision helpful and be more satisfied as before.

Unfortunately the restructured section "sources" was not a very helpful solution, because different treatise types are now mixed together (for instance 5th century treatises with papadikai of the renaissance period). Readers will get even more confused. But I see the good intention and thank everybody who cares about this entry, so please don't feel discouraged by my criticism. I already found an alternative solution and repaired the chronological order... I hope that you are satisfied now that the bibliography has become clearer.

At the moment a subsection of the second part has to be reworked to improve the content. Please don't worry, if I still work on some subsections. When I personally remove the construction tag, it will indicate that I have finished my work on this article.

--Platonykiss (talk) 09:05, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Article should be split due to size[edit]

Split - Article should be split into "Hagiopolitan Octoechos", "Papadic Octoechos and the Koukouzelian Wheel", "Neobyzantine Octoechos", "Theoretical sources", "Chant Books with Octoechos Notation". Thoughts???--Jax 0677 (talk) 00:24, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Definitely not! Octoechos as the description of the eight mode system should not be splitted in a chronological way. I will soon make some propositions which correspond more to other encyclopedias, but you should be prepared that there will be a lot of work to decide, which informations should be kept in this article and which should be transferred into more specific articles. Because this will be a project for more than one year, I will not be available to do this work, but I try to be of useful assistance as long as I can. Platonykiss (talk) 12:48, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
I appreciate, if splitting actions will not occur in a kind of tauro in a china shop further on. I admit voluntarily that less competent propositions are usually the easiest and more pragmatic ones, if it is the main purpose to have a content table which fits into the screen. Hence, I splitted this article into three new ones as you proposed it. I will do suggestions concerning the future (like missing articles or stubs which need to be improved), but on the talking pages of the three new articles. Thank you very much for your care and please apologize that I let you wait, but I was too busy during the last weeks! Platonykiss (talk) 20:00, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Clarifying tag[edit]

I tried to remove the clarify tag, because the change whoever did it, to 21st century is correct. For further details visit the article "Neobyzantine Octoechos." Platonykiss (talk) 08:14, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Carolingian Octo Toni - errors?[edit]

I am not an expert, but it appears to me that the Latin names for 6 of the 8 tones are out of sequence.

Second tone: Tonus tertius (3rd?)... Third tone: Tonus quintus (5th?)... Fourth tone: Tonus septimus (7th?)... Fifth tone: Tonus secundus (2nd?)... Sixth tone: Tonus quartus (4th?)... Seventh tone: Tonus sextus (6th?)

As I said, I'm no expert, and my linguistic skills are limited, but I'm pretty sure this a mistake. Perhaps the whole section needs to be revisited by someone with greater expertise than myself? If I am mistaken, I humbly apologize for my ignorance. LdR777 (talk) 17:55, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

For Hucbald's way of counting the eight tones, you find a quotation in the related article Hagiopolitan Octoechos, which is probably more interesting for your focus. I hope it is useful for you to check errors. It seems you would like to have a sortable table here, also this is possible. Platonykiss (talk) 00:54, 9 January 2015 (UTC)


While Coptic might have melodic type, no source says they are eight. It is removed. Syrian changed to Syriac. Cheers.--Connection (talk) 21:20, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

It is not exactly incorrect, but maybe a little bit small-minded. The same can be said about the Armenian eight modes, which do not correspond that strictly to the Byzantine octoechos, not even the Latin octoechos does, as I explain in the article Hagiopolitan octoechos. Nevertheless, please feel encouraged to write about a Coptic hymnal in the oriental section of the article about the book. Is there a book which corresponds to the Armenian Šaraknoc' and Georgian Iadgari?
Syrian means the country, Syriac the language. We should mention here, that the "Wikipedian nomenclature" is obviously not according to the official one of the Patriarchates:
Also here you might discuss the difference between Syrians who used Greek like John of Damascus, and Syrians who used Syriac as liturgical language (there are medieval hymnals with Arabic letters at Mar Saba). It can definitely be said that John's father opposed the Byzantines in politics. Nevertheless, the history of Byzantine music can hardly be separated from "Syriac Christians"... Platonykiss (talk) 22:01, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
Octoechos and parakletike
Hagiopolitan Octoechos (6th-13th century)
Papadic Octoechos (13th-18th century)
Neobyzantine Octoechos (18th-21st century)