Georgian Audio-DVD Digital Online Catalog


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Sacred Music

Georgian church songs (chorales) which reached the highest point of their development in the 10th11th centuries, are a "outstanding monument or Georgian music". Academician Ivane Djavakhishvili believes that already in the 9th century if not earlier there existed in Georgia a theory of church singing which was called "the science of voice study". In Georgia's churches and monasteries, as well as in Georgian cultural centers abroad - on Sinai, Atho, and in Palestine - a great importance was attached to the art of choral singing.

At the same time there appeared books on hymnography - such a collections of eight-voices chants (models of chorales). Hymnographers Joane Minchkhi, Mikael Modrekili, Joane Mtbevari, Evtime and Giorgi Mtatsmindeli, Efrem Mtsire and others are mentioned in the collection of church chorales of the 10th and 11th centuries. They not only translated Greek texts of chorales but often themselves composed new masterpieces.

Chorales were recorded in neumatic system of the first half of X century. Graphically Georgian neums differed from the Greek and Latin ones. They are not decrypted till now. They should be studied in comparison with early Byzantine system used in Greek chants since initially Georgian church singing had been developing on the basis of Georgian texts. Later it acquired traditional traits of folk polyphonic singing.

At the beginning of this century church chorales were studied and performed by the specialists who inherited this priceless legacy from the previous generations. During the centuries chorales were passed orally. Both in Western and Eastern Georgia there were schools where young people were taught choral singing. Graduates were sent to various monasteries and churches.

There were two main types of chorales in Georgia: so-called Gurian which were spreaded mostly in Western Georgia and Kartalinian-Kahetian in Eastern Georgia. Late in XIX and in XX centuries musicians recorded on the phonograph and notated hundreds of rare old Georgian chorales. You can listen to some of them online from this web-site.
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