Landmarks of the Style in the Romanian Psaltic Music in the XIXth Century. A Case Study


The musicological byzantine literature of the nineteenth century is full of creative personalities  who, revaluating the structures canonically established through the Chrisantic reform, became visible in the world of Psalter through the creative refinement and the special capacity of infinite variation of the rhetorical models adopted by the Orthodox Church.

Given the fact that the compositional personality of the Psalter was hardly recognized and still is hardly recognized nowadays, through the case study I propose I prove that the great personalities of the musicological byzantine literature from the nineteenth century imposed themselves not only through the masterful handling of the well-known rhetorical patterns, but also through their own creative techniques, which customizes them stylistically. I compared the solutions of the Byzantine interpretation of the text  Anastasima Eothina in second mode by Macarie the Hieromonk, Dimitrie Suceveanu and Nectarie Vlachosat the architectural conception level, of the proportioning of the form, of the lexicon grouped by syntactic functions,  of the ornamental system and of the melo-rhythmic dynamic. For this purpose I made lexical tables encoded by cadence structures – medial and final -, initial and middle initial and median, which facilitated the lexical comparison of the personal compositional solutions, highlighting the common elements and those customized stylistically. I found a great unity of design and style at Macarie and Dimitrie Suceveanu and an emphasized singularization at Nectarie, who imposes himself also through the special monumental character of the form.

Methodologically, I did the following:

–          I extracted the lexicon from every Anastasima Eothina and I  ordered it on the basis of the syntactic function, and within each one I ordered and I coded the melodic formulas based on the relationships of structural closeness;

–          I compared the lexical indexes of each composer on syntactic functions and I illustrated in coded tables the lexical relationships establised at melodical line level, section and piece as a whole level.

–          I could reveal the overall conclusions onarchitectural design, on the dynamics of the musical form, on the language stylistic processes and the areas of repetition and of variation or lexical creation, also on the variational procedures.


I. The lexical index of the Anastasima Eothina 2 in second mode

1.1. The lexical index of the Anastasima Eothina 2 in second mode by Macarie the Hieromonk

Cadential formulas

Cadential formulas

The median cadential formulas

– cadence level = di

- cadence level = di -1- cadence level = di - 2

- cadence level = di - 3

– cadence level = vu

- cadence level = vu - 1

- cadence level = vu - 2

- cadence level = vu - 3

Initial formulas

Initial formulas

Median initial formulas

Median initial formulas

Median formulas

Median formulas


1.2. The lexical index of the Anastasima Eothina 2 in second mode by Dimitrie Suceveanu

Final cadential formulas

Final cadential formulas - Suceveanu

Median cadential formulas

– cadence level = di

- cadence level = di - 1 - Suceveanu

- cadence level = di - 2 - Suceveanu

- cadence level = di - 3 - Suceveanu

– cadence level = vu

- cadence level = vu - Suceveanu

– cadence level = zo

- cadence level = zo - Suceveanu

Initial formulas

Initial formulas - Suceveanu

Median initial formulas

Median initial formulas - Suceveanu

Median formulas

Median formulas - Suceveanu

1.3. The lexical index of the Anastasima Eothina 2 in second mode by Nectarie Vlachos

Final cadential formulas

Final cadential formulas - Nectarie

Final cadential - Nectarie 2

Median cadential formulas

– cadence level = di

- cadence level = di - 1 - Nectarie

– cadence level = vu

- cadence level = vu - Nectarie

Initial formulas

Initial formulas - Nectarie

Median initial formulas

Median initial formulas - Nectarie

Median formulas

Median formulas  - 1 - Nectarie Median formulas 2 - Nectarie Median formulas 3 - Nectarie 

II. Cadential relationships

2.1. Common cadential relationships

The final cadence in the relationship 1-2-1-1 appears at Macarie and Suceveanu.

The final cadence in the relationship 2-1-1, identical or multiplied, occurs at all three composers psalm related.

The median cadence in the relationship 1-2-1-1 appears at Macarie and Suceveanu.

At Nectarie, the cadential relationship 2-1-1 is commom with the others.

At Macarie and Suceveanu appears the relationship km VI-VII-1-1.

At all three composers it is common the relationship km VII-VI-VII-1 şi VII-1-VII-VI.

At Suceveanu and Nectarie, it is common the relationship Km 3-2-1.


2.2. The singular cadencial solutions are:

–     atMacarie: 1-VII-1; VI-VII-VI;

–    at Suceveanu: 4-3-2-3.


The following tables express, detailed  on syntactic function, the cadential relationships specific for each composer.



Syntacticfunction Levels
Kfin 1-2-1-1
Km 1-2-1-1; 1-2-2-1-1; VI-VII-1-1; VII-VI-VII-1; 1-VII-1; V-VI-VII-VI; VI-VII-VI-VI



Syntacticfunction Levels
Kfin 1-2-1-1
Km 1-2-1-1-; 3-2-1; 3-2-2-1; 3-4-2-3-1; VI-VII-1-1; VI-VII-1-VII-1; VI-VII-VI-VI; VII-VI-VII-1; VII-1-VII-1-VI; 4-3-2-3



Syntacticfunction Levels
Kfin 2-1-1-1-1; 2-3-2-1-1


III. Identity andlexicalvariation

The cadential system proves that beyond the appearance of the singularity of the formulas reflected in the table of the lexical repartition in the repertoire during the form, the three composers use a lot the method of the continuous variation of some common models for the most part.

The identical repetition of some formulas is rare, recreating the options being one of the basic principles of psaltic composition .

In terms of vocabulary, Macarie and Suceveanu use a cadential identical vocabulary, a similar one, while Nectarie has its own cadential vocabulary, being unmistakable. At Nectarie the final cadence is developed through an ornamental post final formula based on voice.

In the following table I shall illustrate, through the appropriate codes from the lexical indexes of each voice, made of the Anastasima Eothina of each composer, the relationships of similarity and lexical approach, having in mind to surprise the common elements of all, at the vocabulary level.

Syntactic function Macarie Suceveanu Nectarie Relationship
Kfin x x / Identity
Km 1.1.= Kfin = Kfin / Bifunctional
1.2. 1.1. / Identity
/ / 1.2.Kfin =1.1.Km Identity bifunctional
1.4. 1.6. / Bifunctional
1.1; 1.2; 1.3 1.1. / Close variants
1.4; 1.5. 1.6; 1.7. 1.3. Variants
/ / 1.1.; 1.2. Close variants
/ 1.2; 1.3; 1.4; 1.5. / Variants
1.6. / / Singular
VI.1; VI.2 VI.2 VI.1; VI.2; VI.3; VI.4; VI.5 Variants
1.1. = Kfin transpus = VI.4. VI.1. = Kfin transpus / Variation at cadence
VI.3 VI.1; VI.2. / Far away cadence
/ 3.1. / singular


Each of the three analized composers has a proper vocabulary with the function of initials and median initials,  with an attack preference on certain levels, which become an overall constant style. At Suceveanu the attack levels diversifies,   also the vocabulary, more than at the other two,  regarding the im-s.

A few relationships of lexical variation appears, each composer having his own vocabulary, which constitutes a brand style.

Syntactic function Macarie Suceveanu Nectarie Relaţii
I Singular formulas for each composer. r
i≠im i≠im I/1.2.=im/1.5. Uniques  at Macarie and Suceveanu and with variants in im at Nectarie.
Im 1.1.=1.2.= 1.2.=2.1. / Variants
1.4. 1.1. / Variants
VII.1. VII.2. VII.2. Variants
VI.2. VI.1. / Identical
VI.1. VII.1. VII.1. Var.segm.
1.6. ≠ 1.4. ≠ 1.3. şi 1.4. Jump quart at all, but in different formulas.At Nectarie variation.
1.7. 1.3. / Variation through diminutives
/ 3.3. 3.1. Variants


Syntactic function Macarie Suceveanu Nectarie Relaţii
M Atacuri pe tr. 1; 2; 3; 4; VII; VI 1; 2; 3;4; VII; VI 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; VII; VI Identity at the attack stairs.  Exception at Nectarie tr. 5.
1.3. var. 1.4. 1.11; 1.12; 1.13; 1.14. (var) / Identity and variants
1.3. / 1.18. Variants
1.5. / 1.7; 1.8. Variants
1.1. / 1.1. Mirror
/ 1.7; 1.8. 1.4. Variants
2.2. 2.5. / Identity
/ 2.6. 2.14.
/ 2.3; 2.4. /
/ / 1.5; 1.6; 1.7; 1.8; Variants
/ / 1.14; 1.15. Variants
/ / 1.17; 1.18. Variants
/ / 2.3; 2.4; 2.5; 2.6; Variants
/ / 2.9; 2.10 Variants
/ / 2.12; 1.13. Variants
/ / 2.14; 2.15. Variants
/ / 2.16; 2.17; 2.18; 2.19. Derivations
3.1. 3.1. 3.6. Identity
3.2. 3.2; 3.3. / Variants
3.3. 3.5; 3.6. 3.2. Variants
VII.3. VII.1. VII.5. Identity
VII.4. VII.2. Var.VII.6; VII.7. Identity at  Macarie and Suceveanu; variants at  Nectarie
VII.5. VII.3. VII.8; VII.4. Variation
VII.6. VII.5 segm; VII.4. Segm. VII.1. Identity on segments
VI.1. VI.1; VI.2; VI.3. VI.8; VI.2; VI.3. Identities and variations


Besides the formulas that evince relationships of similarity (identity) and also derivations through variance, the rest of the coded ones are specific of each composers’ style.

Each composer customize itself stilistically through the vocabulary,  through the ways of processing by means of rhythmic melody and ornamentation. (the adorning language).

Macarie prefers the ornamentation through appogiatura and the one of superior and inferior exchange form.

Suceveanu uses the same types of ornamentation as Macarie, but with a higher level of complexity through doubling in gruppetos placed on certain stairs of a mode ladder reflected in the coding system.

Nectarie valorifies substantial the back appogiatura and the types of mentioned ornamentation at the other two in different formulas, on different stairs of the mode ladder, in a proper concept of musical-prosodic elaboration.


IV. Architectural proportions of the Anastasima Eothina in second mode

4.1. Macarie the Hieromonk divides the text of the Stichera evangelical music in 15 musical phrases, which he groups in music period of different extension,respecting the golden section proportion. This comes out from the evaluation of the extension of each phrase in total duration expressed in a number of time units  (hronos protos = quarter) and the comparison of the component phrases of the musical period.

I codified each melodic line with the order number in thearchitecturalsequence, I extracted the resulting prosody, and I evaluated the total duration of each melodic line, as follows:

R1. Cu miresme venind femeile                                             = 22 quarters

R2. cele ce au fost cu Maria                                                   = 15 quarters

R3. şi nepricepându-se cum le va fi lor                                  = 27 quarters

R4. ca să-şi dobândească dorirea                                            = 18 quarters

R5. li s-a arătat piatra răsturnată                                             = 22 quarters

R6. şi dumnezeiesc tânăr                                                        = 12 quarters

R7. potolind tulburarea sufletelor lor                                     = 21 quarters

R8. că a zis:                                                                            = 10,5 quarters

R9. A înviat Iisus Domnul                                                     = 18 quarters

R10. pentru aceasta propovăduiţi                                          = 14,5 quarters

R11. propovăduitorilor Lui Ucenici                                      = 25 quarters

R12. să meargă în Galileea                                                    = 15 quarters

R13. şi îl vor vedea pre El                                                     = 16 quarters

R14. înviat din morţi                                                             = 12 quarters

R15. ca pre Dătătorul de viaţă şi Domnul.                            = 23 quarters


The distribution of the Stichera evangelical music on melodic lines doesn’t respect their poetical structure, the musicalization of the text offering the composer an opportunity for theological-musical meditation.The text appears as a meditative story, in which the people and the important actions are musically highlighted through compositional procedures skillfully chosen and handled in periodic structures of two melodic lines each, proportioned by the golden section in musical period.This proportioning of the period music on the basis of golden section principle, appears as a solution of discursive balance dominant for the whole form of the Anastasima Eothina.

At the level of the architectural ensemble, the form is built from two distinct sections in terms of the speech character:

I. meditative story (R1-R8)

II. herald dialogue (R9-R15).

The ratio between the two sections exceeds with 24 beats the ratio of equality, the second section being slightly compressed: Section I = 157,5 hronos protos; Section II = 123,5 hronos protos.


4.2. Dimitrie Suceveanu has a another musical architectural vision of the liturgical text, which he distributes differently in phrases and musical periods, totalizing also a number of 15 melodic phrases.

R1. Cu miresme venind femeile                                            = 16 quarters

R2. cele ce au fost cu Maria                                                  = 14 quarters

R3. şi nepricepându-se                                                          = 17 quarters

R4. cum le va fi lor                                                               = 9 quarters

R5. ca să-şi dobândească dorirea                                          = 41 quarters

R6. li s-a arătat lor piatra răsturnată                                     = 24 quarters

R7. şi dumnezeiesc tânăr potoli                                            = 19 quarters

R8. tulburarea sufletelor lor                                                  = 18 quarters

R9. că a zis: A înviat Iisus Domnul                                      = 22 quarters

R10. pentru aceasta propovăduiţi                                         = 15,5 quarters

R11. propovăduitorilor Lui Ucenici                                     = 23 quarters

R12. să meargă în Galileea şi-L vor şi-L vor vedea pre El  = 50 quarters

R13. înviat din morţi                                                            = 17 quarters

R14. ca pre Dătătorul                                                           = 8 quarters

R15. de viaţă şi Domnul.                                                     = 19 quarters


Also, at Suceveanu the form is built on two discursive sections: Section I  = R1-R8; Section II = R9-R15.

At Suceveanu proportioning the sections is reversed from the axis of symmetry, placed between R8 and R9. The two sections are almost equal as total value of times: Cele două secţiuni sunt aproape egale ca valoare totală a timpilor: Section I = 158 hronos protos; Section II = 154,5 hronos protos.

Suceveanu exploits the contrast of extension of the sentences and phrases and the varied proportion of the phrases within music periods: some are nearly equal as total value, others are proportionated on golden section.

The first four melodic lines and last 3 lines of Anastasima Eothinaare very short, while the portions of text that relates the wonders of Resurrection (R5-R8 şi R9-R12[-R13]) are highly developed.


4.3. Nektarios Hieroschemamonk chooses the opening of the Anastasima Eothina 2 with The Glory, which builds itself as a prelude laudatio on the same musical material as the Line 1, to which it is more extended to use a different cadence.Anastasima Eothina 2 is structured at Nectarie on 14 ample melodic lines, with rhetorical repetitions which produce inner expansions of the phrases, with discursiveemphasisof some keywords.

Slavă Tatălui şi Fiului şi Sfântului Duh                                              = 36 quarters

R1. Cu miresme venind femeile                                                          = 30 quarters

R2. cele ce-au fost cu Maria                                                                = 36 quarters

R3. şi nepricepându-se                                                                        = 36 quarters

R4. cum le va fi lor ca să-şi dobândească dori dorirea                       = 63 quarters

R5. li s-a arătat piatra răsturnată                                                         = 44 quarters

R6. şi dumnezeiesc tânăr                                                                    = 18 quarters

R7. potolind tulburarea suflete sufletelor lor                                      = 60 quarters

R8. că a zis: A înviat Iisus Domnul                                                    = 32 quarters

R9. pentru aceasta propovăduiţi                                                         = 28 quarters

R10. propovăduitorilor Lui Ucenici                                                   = 39 quarters

R11. să meargă în Galileea                                                                 = 25 quarters

R12. şi-L vor şi-L vor vedea pre El                                                    = 24 quarters

R13. înviat din morţi                                                                          = 20 quarters

R14. ca pre Dătătorul de viaţă şi Domnul.                                         = 40 quarters


Also Nectarie customizes himself through the monumental speech vision, structured on ample phrases, strongly on key moments through segmented stating and the integral repetition in a musical speech melismatic developed,  or distributed in short sentences, quasi-syllabic, which creates in Section II dynamic contrast, even agog, with Section I, in which the story melts in musical meditation.

At Nectariethe proportion of the two major sections is made on the principle of the golden sectionand of the discursive contrast: Section I = 323 quarters; Section II = 208 quarters.



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