A Contribution to the Study of the Beginnings of the Orthodox Slavonic Musical Culture

  • Dimitrije Stefanović


The beginnings of the Orthodox Slavonic Musical culture date from the time of the conversion of the Slavonic peoples to Christianity in the ninth century. The Apostles of the Slavs, the brothers SS. Cyril and Methodius from Thessaloniki, and their pupils, especially SS. Clement and Naoum (early tenth century) translated a number of liturgical books from Greek into the Olid Church Slavonic. Some of these, e. g. the Oktoechos, were used for singing, but neither Byzantine nor Slavonic manuscripts with musical notation have been preserved from that time. Therefore, only indirect evidence is available: a number of quotations concerning singing and musical practices found in the old biographies and chronicles serve as important sources for research, although they do not help us to reconstruct the earliest melodies. The Old Slavonic liturgical manuscripts without notation written both in the older Glagolitic and the younger Cyrillic alphabets contain signatures for the Modes. Some of these manuscripts are listed and their relevance for our research is pointed out. Next are mentioned the Slavonic liturgical manuscripts with notation and their relationship to the Byzantine manuscripts. Thanks to the results obtained by Miloš Vellimirović and this author it was possible to conclude that the final phrases of Slavonic Hirmoi and Stichera with notation – found in Russian manuscripts from the twelfth century – are similar if not identical with the Byzantine versions. Concerning the beginnings and the history of the Serbian Chant no manuscript with notation has been found before the middle of the fifteenth century. Three conclusions were arrived at: a) for the beginnings of the Orthodox Slavonic Musical culture the oral tradition was widely spread; b) the Byzantine influence must have been predominant in the first phase of the melodic transmission; c) original hymns in honour of Serbian saints are especially noteworthy because there are no Byzantine models for them.


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How to Cite
StefanovićD. (1968). A Contribution to the Study of the Beginnings of the Orthodox Slavonic Musical Culture. Musicological Annual, 4(1), 21-27. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.4.1.21-27