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Beth Gazo D-ne`motho
The Treasury of Chants

Schools of Music
Modal System
Guide to the Modes

Recording History
The Melodies
English Index


Modal System

Music of the Syrian Orthodox church music employs a modal system consisting of eight ecclesiastical modes, analogous to the eight-mode Gregorian chant system. The modes are basically numbered from 1 to 8, respectively. According to this system, each qolo (plural qole), or hymn, comes in the eight different modes. Some modes have variants of there own - only the skilled can master such variants.

The modal cycle consists of eight weeks. The ecclesiastical year starts with Qudosh `Idto (The Consecration of the Church), a feast observed on the eighth Sunday before Christmas. The first mode is sung on this day. The following Sunday makes use of the second mode and so on until the Sunday before Christmas when the eighth mode is used. The cycle then repeats itself. Some of the more significant holy days and feasts have fixed modes. These are described in the Guide to the Eight Modes.

During the weekly offices, known in Syriac by the name Shhimo, the 1st and 5th modes are paired together, so are the 2nd and 6th, 3rd and 7th, and 4 and 8th. If a particular Sunday makes use of the 1st mode, the following Monday is sung with the 5th mode, Tuesday with the 1st mode, with the pair alternating every day.

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Last Update:May 31, 1997