Le chant byzantin

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© Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport, 2018

Art vivant qui perdure depuis plus de 2 000 ans, le chant byzantin constitue à la fois une tradition culturelle significative et un système musical complet faisant partie des traditions musicales communes qui se sont développées dans l’Empire byzantin. Mettant en valeur, sur le plan musical, les textes liturgiques de l’Église orthodoxe grecque, le chant byzantin est étroitement lié à la vie spirituelle et au culte religieux. Cet art vocal se concentre principalement sur l’interprétation du texte ecclésiastique. Le chant byzantin doit sans nul doute son existence à la parole (logos). En effet, chaque aspect de cette tradition sert à la diffusion du message sacré. Transmis oralement de génération en génération, il a préservé ses caractéristiques au fil des siècles : il s’agit d’une musique exclusivement vocale, fondamentalement monophonique ; les chants sont codifiés selon un système en huit modes ou huit tons ; et différents styles de rythme sont employés afin d’accentuer les syllabes souhaitées dans certains mots du texte liturgique. L’art psaltique a toujours été lié à la voix masculine mais les chanteuses sont nombreuses dans les couvents et sont actives, dans une certaine mesure, dans les paroisses. Outre sa transmission à l’église, le chant byzantin prospère grâce au dévouement d’experts et d’amateurs – musiciens, membres des chœurs, compositeurs, musicologues et universitaires – qui contribuent à son étude, à sa représentation et à sa diffusion.

Father Nikolaos Lympouridis with his students, during their weekly Byzantine chant lesson at the School of Byzantine and Traditional Music of the Holy Metropolis of Lemesos, in Limassol, Cyprus
Nuns chanting at the Monastery of Saint Heraklidios in Politiko village, in the province of Nicosia, Cyprus
Cantors lead the procession around the church of Saint John’s Cathedral in Nicosia, celebrating The Sunday of Orthodoxy (first Sunday of Great Lent). The Service commemorates the restoration of icons and their veneration by the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council in AD 787
The Right Choir of cantors (Chorōs) during the Divine Liturgy celebrating The Sunday of Orthodoxy at Saint John Cathedral in Nicosia, Cyprus. The chanting is directed by the leader of the Right Choir, First Cantor Kyriakos Psaltis
Detail of wall painting in Saint John Cathedral in Nicosia, Cyprus. Although Byzantine chant is exclusively vocal music, musical instruments and singing with instrumental accompaniment are depicted in wall paintings inside churches as well as in manuscript miniatures
Byzantine music teacher and choir director Evangelos Georgiou leads Byzantine Choir ‘Cypriot Melodists’, at the Hall of the Cultural Centre of the Archbishop Makarios III Foundation. The performance took place in March 2018 during the celebratory event for the inscription of new elements on the National Inventory of Cyprus
An old handwritten manuscript (c. 1825-1840) from the personal collection of Byzantine music teacher and choir director Evangelos Georgiou. “Parasimantikī” is the neumatic notation employed to transcribe the Byzantine chants into written form
Studying Byzantine Music at the Music Secondary School of Ilion, Athens
The Right Choir of chanters during the Divine Liturgy at the Transfiguration of Christ's Cathedral, Kallithea, Athens. The chanting is directed by the leader of Right Choir, Fotis Ketsetzis, Archon Protopsaltes of the Holy Archdiocese of America and Emeritus Professor of Holy Cross, Boston
The Left Choir of students from Music School of Ilion during the Liturgy at Saint Eleftherios' church, Patissia, Athens. The choir is directed by Konstantinos Politis, Protopsaltes and Teacher of Byzantine Chant
The Left Choir of students from Music Secondary School of Ilion during the Liturgy at Saint Eleftherios' church, Patissia, Athens. The choir is directed by the Lampadarios (leader of the Left Choir), Yiannis Karinos, cantor and theologist
A girl, pupil at Music Secondary School of Ilion, Athens, is chanting using the neumatic notation of the Byzantine Music
Detail of the Right Choir of chanters during the Divine Liturgy at Saint Nikolaos' church in Kaisariani, Athens. The choir is directed by Fotis Giannakakis, Archon Protopsaltes of the Holy Archdiocese of Constantinople
The Right Choir of chanters during the Divine Liturgy at Saint Nikolaos' Cathedral in Kaisariani, Athens. The chanting is directed Fotis Giannakakis, Archon Protopsaltes of the Holy Archdiocese of Constantinople
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