The Apechema or Intonation

If you’ve heard our hymns, you have noticed that each hymn begins with a short, introductory musical phrase chanted by the Director. This is called an intonation or ‘apechema’ (απηχημα) in Greek. We decided to include these apechemata before each hymn because we envision this CD as a teaching CD for families. Our goal is to introduce families to the wealth and beauty of the Orthodox Church’s Byzantine Music, both in Greek and in English. Much like the Church’s Byzantine iconography, the Byzantine music, with its style, sounds and script have become integral to the way we worship as Orthodox Christians.

The hymns of Byzantine or Greek Music have been composed in many different musical ‘modes’. Usually, the director of the choir chants the ‘apechema’ of the mode immediately before the choir starts chanting a hymn. An apechema is a short musical phrase that delineates the main features of the specific mode: the basis, the intervals, the main notes, melodic tractions and endings. Thus the choir director offers the characteristic sounding or the ‘idea’ of that mode and introduces all the choir members to the chanting of the hymn.

Unfading Rose
Ρόδον τό Ἀμάραντον