The Tone 8 Troparion Melody

This prostopinije melody is used to sing troparia in tone 8. (Kontakia in Tone 8 have their own melody.) This article will show you how to sing hymns to the Tone 8 troparion melody.

Please note: This article 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.

The Sunday troparion

The tone 8 troparion which is sung most frequently is the troparion of the Resurrection in tone 8, which is sung every eighth Sunday throughout the year as part of the cycle of eight tones. It can be found on page 161 in our Divine Liturgies book. This troparion should be memorized.

Tone 1 Sunday troparion

listen

Here is a slightly longer one, the troparion for Mid-Pentecost (25 days after Pascha):

Tone 1 Sunday troparion

listen

Three things distinguish the tone 8 troparion melody from most other prostopinije melodies:

  1. Each melodic phrase can have TWO reciting tones rather than just one.
  2. The enture melody is sung to a regular half-note rhythm, instead of the variable rhythm of free speech.
  3. Small melodic flourishes are often added to the basic melody to enliven the steady half-note rhythm.

The Structure of the Melody

The tone 8 troparion melody consists of two alternating melodic phrases, A and B.

The A phrase

The basic form of the A phrase melody is as follows:

This phrase has two reciting tones:

Half notes can be added or removed at these two points to allow for longer or shorter amounts of text.

The intonation starts the phrase, while the preparatory note alerts the congregation to the beginning of the cadence, or ending formula for the phase. (See the discussion of the kontakion melody in Tone 3 if you are not familiar with these terms).

The transition (in the middle) is a special feature of the Tone 8 troparion; these two notes tell the congregation that we are moving on to the second reciting tone.

When singing this melody to the even half note rhythm, the cantor must use his or her voice to show where the accented syllables are, since speeding up and slowing down would disturb the even half notes. Instead, varying the volume, intensity, or timbre of your voice to show the accents.

When a text phrase is short, the second reciting tone and the half note before the cadence sometimes turn into an ornament like the following:

The entire phrase must be sung smoothly and evenly.

The B phrase

Here is the B phrase of the Tone 8 troparion melody:

Like the A phrase, half notes on fa and sol can be added or removed, depending on how much text is being sung.

Here are the "parts" of the phrase:

Because of the melodic interest in the cadence, there are usually no ornaments in the B phrase as there are in the A phrase. However, it is common for the second reciting tone to be combined with the cadence:

And the troparion of Mid-Pentecost contains an exceptionally short B phrase:

In this phrase, the intonation and both reciting tones have disappeared entirely; all that is left are the transition and the cadence.

Ending the Tone 8 troparion melody

The Tone 8 tropation melody always ends with the cadence of the B phrase. If there are an even number of phrases (A-B-A-B, and so on), this occurs naturally.

If there are an odd number of phrases, then either the B phrase is repeated (as in the Tone 8 troparion of the Resurrection), or a special phrase is used which begins like th A phrase and ends like the B phrase. Since the second reciting tone of each is the same, this is not hard to do:

A tone 8 troparion should be sung with a regular (but not ostentatious) processional rhythm. The possible variations make it important for the cantor to look ahead to as not to be surprised, especially at the B-phrase cadence. On the other hand, the fact that quarter notes signal accents and cadences make it an easy melody to follow along; the ornaments usually harmonize with the pitch before and after, avoiding clashes even if the congregation continues to sing the reciting tone.

Melodies for Glory / Now and ever

Here is how "Glory... Now and ever...." should be sung before a troparion in tone 8:

Here is how "Glory...." and "Now and ever...." should be sung when one or the other is sung before a troparion in tone 8:


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 8 (Sunday Matins book, page 281):

Learning the melody