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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The asmatic troparia, katavasiai, and hypakoai "cycles" in their Paleoslavonic recensions: a study in comparative paleography Myers, Gregory Arthur


This study concerns the repertory and musical notation of the medieval Russian Kondakar. Five such documents survive from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries and contain a mixed body of melismatic chants for the office and liturgy. All are notated in an archaic yet highly complex musical notation set in two rows above, the text: a small row of intervallic and rhythmic signs overlaid by a row of Great Hypostases. The texts are also distorted by the addition non-textual intercalations. For the first time the full collection of kondakars has become available for study and comparative analysis. The transcription of this notation remained elusive until the discovery of the kondakar’s relationship to the Byzantine Asmatikon or choir book which shares much the same repertory and melodic style with the kondakar. Further support to the Kondakar Asmatikon relationship was found with the discovery of the Kastoria 8 manuscript, an Asmatikon whose notational properties recall those of the kondakar. Through a type of comparative analysis or “counterpart transcription” pioneered independently by Kenneth Levy and Constantin Floros, much has been learned about the nature of kondakarian chants and notation. This study constitutes a rigorous application and test of their methods with the aim of expanding the repertory of the known kondakarian signs. The hymn types known as troparia and stichoi, katavasiai, and hypakoai have been drawn from the Forefeast, Christmas, and Epiphany liturgical cycles and subjected to extensive analyses with the aim of expanding the known repertory of kondakarian signs. The chants are presented and studied within the context of the liturgical cycle and subjected to analyses on different structural levels. The study also takes into consideration historical factors and the role of the liturgical ordines in use in Rus’ in the Kievan period. The result has been an affirmation of the method’s effectiveness, an increased repertory of known kondakarian signs, and an advancement in our own knowledge of the kondakarian system. Fifteen melodic formula-complexes have been identified within the contexts of the chants analyzed. These are presented in a statistical concordance whose aim is to summarise by formula the cyclic and inter-hymnodic relationships among theses hymns. In light of this new knowledge and expanded notational vocabulary, we may now turn to that kondakarian repertory for which there is no known asmatic counterpart and therefore no Byzantine control, i.e., the kontakia, with the hope of achieving effective musical reconstructions of this vast chant body. Moreover, this study has served to illustrate the medieval Russian adaptors’ assimilation and mastery of the centonate procedure of chant construction and their degree of musical literacy, which was developed to satisfy specific musical and liturgical needs in the rarefied cultural atmosphere of Kievan Rus’.

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