ORTHODOX TRADITION »  ECCLESIASTIC MUSIC

The Greek Orthodox Church found its expression in Greek Byzantine music. This music is in accordance with the Theological Word, the dogmas and the worship rituals of the faithful.

Any existing deviations, which in fact exist but a few, are considered to be idiomatic in nature. The music is somewhat differentiate within the territory of the Ionian Islands and deviates from the musical tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This particular feature is mainly due to the numerous historical events that have taken place on these islands.

The Ionian Islands were seperated from Byzantine Hellenism and under the rule of the Francs from 1185 to 1479.

Afterwards, they came under Turkish rule from 1479 to 1481 and again from 1485 to 1500.
The Venetians occupied the Islands from 1500 to 1797 until the Democratic French took over.

They remained in power from 1797 to 1799. From 1800 to 1807, the Septinsular Republic was under the protection of Turkey.

The second French occupation occurred during the years of 1807-1809 after which the British took over. It became a British Protectorate and remained as such until 1864 when the Ionian Islands united with the free Kingdom of Greece. The inhabitants of the Islands did not lose the essence of their Orthodox dogma although they were subject to the heterodox occupants whose zeal and expediency made them attempt to convert the local population.

Their music was mildly influenced by the Western Polyphonic Heterotony although Ecclesiastical music was not directly affected by the Western influences.

It was however influenced by the popular harmonic music which has been formed freely and independently at different times and places with no aknowledgements or dogmas involved.

The traditional Byzantine tune and colour was not altogether excluded. In Cephalonia, the assumption of external harmony in Byzantine Ecclesiastical music happened moderately, carefully and with the consent of the clergymen, who sorted things out, systematized and recorded the melodies.

The Byzantine "Hoctoechos" (Eight-Sounds) received the harmonious influence of the popular music on one or two of its "echoes" (sounds) only and formed an outlet to the "majore" of European music with a simple, spontaneous harmony free of rules.
It was charming, powerful and expressive.

Such music was used by Cephalonians in special services to express celebration and the glorification of God, on happy occasions such as Liturgies and religious festivals.
In order to express other emotions of piety and devotion, they used other means on special days and services which they derived from their rich religious musical Byzantine tradition.

Thus the Cephalonian Ecclesiastical music remained Byzantine except for some interferences in harmony that occurred spontaneously but moderately, in some of the melodies and some of the services.

Their ingenuity enabled Cephalonians to put their aesthetic stamp on Byzantine melodies, their artistic inclination to embellished them,and their unique vocal ability to performe them clearly and vibrantly.

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