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Beth Gazo D-ne`motho
The Treasury of Chants

Overview
Schools of Music
Modal System
Guide to the Modes
References

Recording History
The Melodies
English Index


 

Overview

Beth Gazo d-ne`motho, "The Treasury of Chants," is the key reference to Syriac Orthodox church music. Without mastering it, the cleric (priest, deacon or singer) cannot perform his/her liturgical duties.

Consisting of a huge volume, the original Beth Gazo contained thousands of tunes, out of which about 700 or so survive. Today, the Syriac Orthodox Church employs an abridged version of the original Beth Gazo, containing the hundreds of tunes which survive. Alas, even some of the melodies in the abridged version are lost and hence are not part of this electronic version of the Beth Gazo.

Music of the Syriac Orthodox church employs a modal system consisting of eight ecclesiastical modes, analogous to the eight-mode Gregorian chant system. Each qolo (plural qole), or hymn, comes in eight different modes. To add to the richness of this system, some modes have variants of their own called in Syriac shuhlophe - only the skilled can master such variants.

The abridged version of the Beth Gazo consists of the following types of hymns:

  • Qole Shahroye "Vigils". These where either originally sung during vigil hours, or sung by a group of people belonging to the order of vigilants (the same term is used in Latin, vigiles). The first two modes are dedicated to the Virgin, the 3rd and 4th to the saints, the 5th and 6th to penitence, and the 7th and 8th to the departed.
  • Goshmo (plural goshme) "Body". Also has eight modes each. The goshme are used in the daily offices known in Syriac as shhimo.
  • Sebeltho (plural seblotho) "ladder". Two of these follow the eight-mode system. The rest have one melody each.
  • Phardo (plural Pharde) "piece". These are short hymns divided into eight collections corresponding to the eight modes. Within each collection, each hymn has its own invariant melody.
  • Qonuno Yawnoyo (plural Qonune Yawnoye) "Greek Canon". These are divided into eight collections corresponding to the eight modes.
  • Mawerbo (plural Mawerbe) "Magnificat". These are divided into eight collections corresponding to the eight modes.
  • Qole Ghnize "Mystic Hymns". They exist in the printed edition in eight modes, the melodies of some are apparently lost.
  • Takheshphotho Rabuloyotho "Litanies of Rabula". These are divided into eight collections corresponding to the eight modes.
  • Tborto (plural Tborotho) "Broken Hymns". There are three kinds of Tborotho: of St. Jacob, of St. Ephrem and of St. Balay. Each of them follows the eight-modal system.
  • Quqlyon (plural Quqalya) "Cycles". These are cycles from the Psalms and follow the eight-modal system.
  • Qadishat Aloho. "The Trisagion". There are eight melodies for the evening service and eight for the morning service for Sundays and feast days.

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Last Update:May 31, 1997