Research on the scales of Byzantine Chant

The scales of Byzantine Chant are very close, in performance and in Lebanon, to those used by the Arabian “classical” music (taught in “Conservatoires” in Lebanon).

Mīkhā’īl Mashāqa, a syrian-lebanese medecine doctor and music theorist of the 19th century, claimed that the 68 division of the octave of Chrysanthos the Reformer (whom he did not name specifically) was superior to the 24-quartertone grid of the Arabs, which he is the first to ascribe in detail.

How are Byzantine and Arabian scales and modes related, and what lies behind the two Byzantine divisions of the octave established by the Byzantine Church in the 19th century ? Are the 24-quartertone and the 68-minutes divisions of the octave related, and how ? Is there a difference between the scales used by the Byzantine Church in Greece and the scales used in Lebanon and Syria (Patriarcate of Antioch) ?

These and many other should be soon answered in a book planned to be published in 2013 by Geuthner, the French publisher who published Erlanger’s La musique arabe from 1930 to 1959.


We will publish posts concerning the different encounters with Byzantine Chanters and specialists on the site.