Introduction about St Yared and Church Music

The Ethiopian Re'ese Liqawnt (head professor), Yared, was born on April 25, 505 A.D. in the city of Aksum. His father was named Adam and his mother Tauklia. St. Yared preached the Gospel throughout Ethiopia. He also composed a song to the Ethiopian Anaphora. There are five hymn books composed by St. Yared. They are: Digwa, Tsome Digwa, Mieraf, Zimare,Mewasiet, In each of these books are three types of chants which are called Ge’ez, Ezil and Arraray. Ge’ez, first and straight note. It is described in its musical style as hard and inposing. Scholars often refer to it as dry and devoid of sweet melody. Ezil, Melodic, gentle and sweet note, which is often chanted after Ge’ez. It is also described as affective tone suggesting intimation and tenderness.It is often found during the great lent chants. Araray, third and melodious and melancholic note often chanted on somber moments, such as fasting and funeral mass.

The Chant of the Liturgy

These three chants are symbolized as the father, the son and the Holy spirit as thought by our fathers. The Chant of the Liturgy.He used to elaborate his hymn in musical notation which in many ways is connected with its religious meaning (symbol). It consists of Biblical signs and letters as well as musical dots placed above the relevant syllables. They indicate the raising or lowering of the voice as well as other modes of pronunciation. The ten notations The ten notations have their own style of arrangement and they are collectively called sirey, which means lead notations or roots to chants. The notations are depicted with lines or marks(chiretoch).

General Introduction to the scales that are found in Mezmurs

Before diving in to the specifics, there are three types of scale systems that are widely used through out the world. This classification is based on the number of notes (tones) the scales use.

  • Chromatic scale: Uses 12 notes
  • Diatonic scale: Uses 7 notes
  • Pentatonic scale: Uses 5 notes

The mezmurs are mainly based on a pentatonic scale and modal tone system. Usage of these scales might vary depending on the singer, the instrument used and the nature of the mezmur. For example, the most commonly used scales in Begena mezmurs are Selamta, Wanen (Tizita Major) and Silecherinetih (Anchihoye). This depth of scales used in begena has just started to widen in recent times. In contrast, Mezmurs performed by mesenqo, Kirar and washint have a vast range of scales.

These Pentatonic scales are driven from chants and hyms of the Great composer and poet Saint Yared the Ethiopian. If we take the Ge’ez chant as an example, it is considered to be the source of scales like Anchihoye, Ambassel and Tizita minor. In other words these pentatonic scales are branches of the Ge’ez chant which show a glimps of Ge’ez when used individualy. The other widely used scale is Tizita Major. This is found in both Ezil and Array chants.

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