Old recordings collected for the first time on CDs
ISTANBUL - The legendary name in Byzantine religious music, Iakovos Nafpliotis’ 60 priceless gramophone records, released by Orfeon-Oden music company in 1914, have been found and collected by Kalan Music for the first time 90 years later
by Vercihan ZiflioğluSixty priceless gramophone albums dating back to 1914 featuring recordings of Byzantine religious music have been compiled into a five-CD set from private collections around the world.
Eighty percent of the records were owned by Iakovos Nafpliotis, the chief Sunday ceremony chanter for the Fener Greek Patriarchate and a legendary man in Byzantine religious music.
"Even the patriarchate did not have these records in its archive," said music expert Stelyo Berber, a singer for the Fener Greek Patriarchate. "These 90-year-old records have great spiritual importance for the Orthodox world."
Kalan Music, where Berber also works as musical director, initiated the project. Also, a book featuring historical photos and information has been published in Greek, English and Turkish to go along with the CDs.
A five year project
Speaking to Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, Berber said the project had been in progress for a few years and the research was completed under the leadership of Professor Antonios Aliyizakis from the Musicology and Byzantine Music Department at Macedonia University in Thessalonica.
"When the Greeks started leaving Anatolia and settled around the world, our music traveled with them. Music is related to geography; the homeland of this music is Anatolia. All Greeks were foreigners wherever they moved, even in Greece. And so was our music. That is why I am very happy that this music has returned to its homeland, where it belongs," said Berber, adding that he was glad the project started in Istanbul rather than Greece. Berber said Nafpliotis’s religious music was being performed by the entire Orthodox world and that the music was known to the world as "Byzantine music" or "Orthodox church music."
Berber said even though many schools developed music within the patriarchate until the 18th century, the music was never scored.
Nafpliotis developed the system called "Byzantine Notation," said Berber. The system of musical notation had been developed under the patriarchate’s leadership in the 18th century. "The signs used in this system, which are very different from those in the West, were produced from the stress marks in the Greek alphabet."
Berber said Byzantium music had a monophonic structure based on the human voice and consisted of eight modes. "Since there are no instruments in Byzantine church music, two people together keep the rhythm. All singers, performing the same mode, support each other through their voice."
Berber said the music played in all Orthodox churches of the world was the same and that there were differences only in modes and styles according to cultures. According to Berber, among the Orthodox communities, only the Arabian Orthodoxies play music in the school of the Fener Greek Patriarchate.
In order to internalize this music one needs to be trained at a church from childhood, said Berber. "It is important to start practicing at the age of 6 or 7 because it is not just music, but also a ritual, a tradition.