(Orthodox Arts Journal) - With this volume, we offer to the English-speaking Orthodox world music for the Panikhida and Burial services based entirely on melodies from authentic Russian chant originals, something that heretofore has not existed in English in any one volume. Furthermore, we have endeavored to present these chants in a form that is at once satisfactorily singable by either a single chanter or a small group of amateur singers, but is still musically rich and uplifting, in keeping with the sober yet joyful character of all traditional Orthodox liturgical chant.
From the introduction to the book:
Over the more than one thousand year tradition of Slavonic liturgical music much of the field has been dominated by what is commonly known as znamenny chant. Znamenny chant — a term that means “signed” or “neumed” chant, referring to the fact that the chant melodies were composed and notated rather than transmitted aurally — is regarded today by Russian Orthodox as the foundation of Russian liturgical music and the main form of canonical chant. Over the course of time a number of variant forms of znamenny chant developed, such as demestvenny chant, Kievan chant, Lesser znamenny chant, and others, but a core body of znamenny melodies remained in more or less constant and exclusive use in the Russian church, in both parishes and monasteries, from the beginning of the eleventh century until the end of the seventeenth.
Beginning in the late seventeenth century Russian liturgical music began to undergo a radical transformation—in large part as a consequence of Tsar Peter the Great’s fascination with Western Europe and the cultural reforms he enacted, but also in some part as a result of organic developments within Russian artistic and ecclesiastical culture both before and after Peter. And so within little more than a generation znamenny chant and its daughter forms came to be supplanted in many places by new compositions and arrangements in the prevailing Italian style of the day. However, this period, known as the Italian Period, which saw such excesses as the performance of operatic-style works on non-liturgical texts during the Divine Liturgy (during which the assembled congregation was sometimes known to applaud with claps and shouts of “Bravo!”), did not last much more than a century.
By the turn of the nineteenth century many composers and churchmen in Russia had begun to seek a return of liturgical singing, if not to its authentically Russian and Orthodox roots, at least to something more simple and pious than the highly ornate and largely secular approach to church music that had come to prevail. These men — among whom were Dmitri Bortniansky (himself trained in Milan and well-versed in Italian music), Priest Pyotr Turchaninov, and later, Fyodor and Alexei L’vov — looked to the surviving body of canonical chants as the foundation upon which they might build a synthesis of traditional Russian chant and the European four-part choral style which had by this time become firmly fixed in the Russian ear. The fruit of this work is the truly vast body of Russian liturgical music that came to be known as obikhodnaya, or “common” chant. To this day, common chant (sometimes referred to as “Court Chant”), in various rescensions and rearrangements, continues to be regarded as normative in much of the Russian Orthodox world. However, the fact that common chant became ubiquitous should by no means be inferred to mean that it was, or is, universally admired. It sustained a good deal of criticism during the first years of its appearance in the early to mid nineteenth century, and it probably would not have caught on nearly as well as it did were it not for its use becoming legally mandatory through the energetic support of Tsar Nicholas I...
Complete article here.