The Tone 1 Samohlasen Melody

This is the common melody for singing stichera in tone 1. It consists of two parts, one for the psalm verse and one for the sticheron itself

Please note: This is the first melody covered in the MCI Online course, Mastering the Eight Tones, and this article provides a good bit of background information on the samohlasen melodies and stichera singing. It also assumes you are familiar with the material taught in the MCI Online course, Introduction to Church Singing. If you have difficulty reading the music notation, please review the MCI website articles on musicianship.

Two Sunday stichera in Tone 1

At Vespers on Saturday evening, while the church is incensed and the lamps are lit, we sing a number of hymns called stichera in honor of the Resurrection; these are inserted after the last few verses of Psalms 129 and 116, and are sung in the Tone of the Week.

Here is the first of these stichera in Tone 1:


The melody consists of three parts, which we call A, B, and F (meaning final). For a longer sticheron, we repeat the A and B phrases:


This is the samohlasen sticheron melody in Tone 1. It is used for singing any sticheron in Tone 1 that is not marked with a special melody (podoben)

The sticheron melody

The samohlasen sticheron melody in Tone 1 consists of two phrases sung in alternation, followed by a concluding phrase.

The A phrase:

alternates with the B phrase

The final (F) phrase is sung as follows:

Singing the A phrase

The A and B phrases have the same basic components: an intonation which begins the phrase; a reciting tone which is used to sing a variable amount of text; a preparatory note to signal the approach of the cadence; and the cadence itself which ends the phrase.

Here is the A phrase, with these parts marked:

The first two notes may be slurred together, or the first note repeated, so that the accent falls on the beginniing of the reciting tone.

Any text on the reciting tone is sung in the rhythm of ordinary speech, smoothly and evening, moving by groups of two and three syllables.

The preparatory signals he end of the reciting tone, and the start of the cadence, The first two notes of the cadence may be slurred together, or the middle note repeated, so make the music fit the accentuation of the text.

The entire phrase should be sung smoothly, and (if possible) on a single breath. At the end of the phrase, pause briefly to take a breath, then sing the next phrase. The length of this pause will depend on the meaniing of the text being sung. (Try speaking it aloud, and notice that you naturally pause longer at the end of a sentence than in the middle of one, with the pause for a comma or semilcon somewhere in between.)

Singing the B phrase

Like the A phrase, the B phrase consists of an intonation, reciting tone, preparatory note, and cadence:

The first note is repeated if necessary, to begin the reciting tone on an accent:

and the notes of the cadence can be slurred together if necessary.

The B phrase has an alternate form which is used for very short text phrases; it ascends by scale steps, and then descends.

Singing the final (F) phrase

The final phrase is much more intricate than the A or B phrases. A six-note intonation if followed by a reciting tone, and an eight-tone cadence. There is no preparatory note for the cadence.

The location of the accents is not fixed; there are at least three different common patterns, which "sing" slightly differently:

Due to the length of the intonation and cadence, there are often only a few syllables (if any) on the reciting tone.

The cadence begins with an accent, and usually has a second accent at the start of the second four-note pattern:

But sometimes all the notes from the first accent in the cadence to the second may be sung on a single accented syllable:

The verse melody

Most stichera immediately follow a psalm verse. The cantor sings the psalm verse to a special melody (different for each tone), which identifies the tone of the sticheron that comes next. Here is the samohlasen verse melody in Tone 1:

Here is two examples, from the Lamplighting Psalms of Vespers:


Putting the two parts together - the Sunday dogmatikon in Tone 1

The last sticheron at the Lamplighting Psalms on an ordinary Saturday evening is called a dogmatikon, because it highlights the dogma or teaching of the Incarnation. Hre is the tone 1 dogmatikon, set the the Tone 1 samohlasen melody. The pripiv is given, followed by the sticheron. Notice how each phrase flows into the next, and how the different text phrases change the way each phrases adapt to different F phrases are used.


Learning the melody

To learn the melody, practice singing the material on the examples page.