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Fascinating glimpse at academics wrestling with this topic19 May 2003
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Thirteen articles/monographs, including three in Greek (with one-page English language summaries), wrestle with the question, how should the music in pre-1800s Byzantine chant manuscripts be understood today? Western musicologists from the 1920s through at least the 1970s assumed that the early-1800s reform of Byzantine chant notation reflected a revolutionary change in the musical content of Byzantine chant: they wrote and taught that the music chanted in today's Greek Orthodox churches is fundamentally different from the music chanted in the Orthodox churches of the "Byzantine" Empire. This view was vigorously resisted by most people with personal experience with today's Greek Orthodoxy, but few of those Western musicologists had such experience with Greek Orthodoxy. In the 1960s and 1970s, some Greek Orthodox scholars began to emerge with the Western academic credentials needed to get a hearing in those forums, and they began to publish papers in Western journals presenting the other point of view: that most differences between today's Greek Orthodox chant and that of earlier centuries are evolutionary, not revolutionary. In this collection of papers presented in Athens in 1993, some two decades later, we see papers from many of today's leading spokesmen for the continuity of Greek Orthodoxy's musical heritage: George Th. Stathis, Ioannis Arvanitis, Lycourgous Ant. Angelopoulis, Jorgen Raasted, and Christian Toelsgard are among the thirteen authors represented here. This volume offers a fascinating look at some of the recent scholarship in this field.