The Tone 2 Troparion Melody

This prostopinije melody is used to sing troparia and kontakia in tone 2, as well as tone 2 sessional hymns for which no podoben is appointed in the liturgical books. This page explains how to sing tone 2 troparia and kontakia following the patterns established by the Inter-Eparchial Music Commission. See the background article for Slavonic and alternate English versions.

The Structure of the Melody

The tone 2 troparion melody is one of the simplest troparion melodies; it consists of

a single melodic phrase:

Tone 2 troparion schema

This musical phrase is repeated for each section of the text, including the last one.

Singing the phrase

The Intonation

The intonation starts on mi, pauses for two beats (the half note) on fa, and continues on the reciting tone (so) until the cadence (which we will get to later).

Tone 2 troparion schema - intonation

This exact pattern can be followed for almost any text if the half note is sung lightly whenever it bears an unaccented syllable. By "lightly", we mean that you must avoid letting the voice swell or "ring out" over the course of singing the half note. But this can take a good deal of practice. Instead, the Music Commission chose to set the intonation differently depending on the pattern of accents and weak syllables in each tone 2 phrase.

When the second syllable of the text being sung is accented, this pattern can easily be followed without change:

example

If the third syllable is accented, then either the first quarter note is "doubled":

example

or the half note is made into a quarter note:

example

If the fourth or fifth syllable is accented, then the half note almost always disappears, to avoid stopping the motion of the music:

example

Here is an example with all three kinds of intonation - the kontakion of holy preachers, sung for the Three Holy Hierarchs, and for Saints Peter and Paul. (Just look at the opening notes of each phrase; leave the rest of each phrase for later.)

In more solemn or better-known hymns like "The noble Joseph", the quarter-half pattern is kept regardless of accents, and it is the cantor's responsibility to sing the words properly. But in all these cases, problems can be avoided if you look ahead to be sure you know where the accent is.

The Reciting Tone

The reciting tone is the part of the phrase where a varying amount of text is all sung on the same pitch. In the troparion melodies in tone 2, tone 5 and tone 8, unlike most other prostopinije melodies, the reciting tone is sung in a pulsed rhythm (like a walking cadence) rather than in the "patter" rhythm of free speech. Listen to the start of this tone 2 troparion in Slavonic for an example.

The Cadence

The cadence in the tone 2 troparion melody consists of a basic four-note pattern, followed by a basic three-note cadence.

example

The four note pattern can be used to sing one, two, three or four syllables:

one syllable: example

two syllables:example

three syllables:example or example

four syllables: example

and the three-note part of the cadence can be used to sing two, three or four syllables:

example

Altogether, the cadence can be used to sing from three to eight syllables of text. If only three syllables are sung, then there is an accent at the start of the four-note pattern, and none on the three-note cadence:

example

But in general, there will be a text accent at the start of the four-note pattern, and another at the start of the three-note cadence. Here are some examples:

example

A third accent can fit in between the other two if each of the first two accents is followed by no more than one unaccented syllable.

example

If, when singing, you look ahead to the cadence on a phrase in the tone 2 troparion melody, you should always "see" two important accents - on on the eighth notes, and one on the first quarter note. This will determine exactly how the syllables will fall on the notes. Now go back and sing the entire kontakion of holy preachers, given above, and you should see that even when the four eighth notes are "articulated" (that is, not at all slurred, but four syllables on four notes), it takes the same amount of time and concentration to sing them as when they are slurred.

Short phrases

Sometimes there are just not enough syllables in a section of text to have an accent on the half note or reciting tone, AND two for the cadence. When this happens, the first note of the reciting tone usually ends up "merging" with the first eighth note of the cadence. Always watch out for this, and identify and practice these phrases before they take you by surprise!

example

(In the second example, the second accent on "accomplishments" is real, but weak; it should not be emphasized in singing.) Watch out for these short phrases and practice them in advance.

Melodies for Glory / Now and ever

Here is how "Glory... Now and ever...." should be sung before a troparion or kontakion in tone 2:

example

Here is how "Glory...." and "Now and ever...." should be sung when one or the other is sung before a troparion or kontakion in tone 2:

example

example

Because the tone 2 troparion melody has only a single phrase, "Glory..." and "Now and ever..." are sung the same way, regardless of whether they are sung together or separately.

Other uses of the melody

At Matins, "The Lord is God" is always sung to the melody of the troparion that follows it. Here it is in tone 2 (Sunday Matins book, page 99):

example

Learning the melody

Sing through the examples of tone 2 troparia and tone 2 kontakia, all of which use this melody.

Memorize the Glory, Now and ever melodies (above) and practice singing them from memory, immediately followed by troparia or kontakia in tone 2.

Then try singing a troparion in each of the other tones, followed by either Glory or Now and ever, and a troparion or kontakion in tone 2.

If your parish celebrates Vespers, learn the festal theotokion in tone 2 ( Sunday Vespers book, page 47).
If your parish celebrates Matins, learn "The Lord is God" in tone 2 (above).

For more information

See the background article for this melody.