Just outside St. Blog’s

I was doing some internet surfing, and I am now giving thanks to God for the invention of the staff (four or five lined!).

This is Byzantine Chant notation, and those be neumes!

I hate to say – but it’s Greek to me!

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5 Comments on “Just outside St. Blog’s”


  1. Looks almost … middle eastern!

  2. Mara Joy Says:

    looks pretty sweet…and, amazing that that’s the kind of stuff they read off of for hundreds of years!

  3. Sean Says:

    If you are interested I can explain some things: First, this notation is by Simon Karas, one of the greatest contemporary masters of Byzantine chant, recently deceased. As you can see there are two lines for each sentence. The upper line is the musical notation and the lower line is the greek letters of the hymn. Byzantine chant is melismatic, meaning that each syllab may be extended for more than one notes, that’s why you can see many identical letters or syllabs written sequentially. The upper line, ie the musical notation is not similar to western notation. The neumes do not represent the actual position of the note that must be sung, but the shift from the previous note, or may denote a time division or an accentual shift. The blue letters on top inform the chanter that the piece is in Plagal 4th Tone starting from Ni (that is roughly equivalent to lower C or Do in western music). It is a very interesting type of music but I can assure you it is most difficult to learn especially if you are accustomed in western music.

  4. Sean Says:

    Oh, by the way that’s only the left side of the hymn… you are missing the right side (sentences are half and if you try to sing it you wont be able to come to the corresponding terminating notes)

  5. John Damianos Says:

    It is very hard to read. I am trying to learn, and it’s tough!


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