Abstracts of issue 2/1985 (2)

George Amargianakis

The Ancient Musical Nomos, the Byzantine Echos and the Indian Raga

As deduced from ancient Greek sources, the musical nomoi were originally a kind of simple melodic archetypes, on which various poems dedicated to the Gods were chanted. Gradually, those archetypes developed into complex and sophisticated compositions, classified in various manners. Music theory defined the boundaries that limited the artistic realizations of those ideal, immaterial archetypes; it defined the possibilities of mutual concession between the stability and discipline of the musical nomoi and the artistic freedom.
The nomoi are related to the automela troparia of Byzantine music. On the melody of the automela were sung numerous other chants, called prosomoia. Corresponding phenomena exist in the folk music of modern Greece, especially on the island of Crete. Related to the more developed phase of the use of  nomoi are the Byzantine echoi (modes) as well as certain practices in the folk music of Epirus.
Akin to the echoi and the nomoi in concept are the ragas of classical Indian music. Here too, elaborate and complex compositions are based on a kind of improvisation, limited by the strict rules of the ragas.