Starostina Tatiana

Chromatism in harmonies of the Christmas Festive Triptych by archimandrite Matthew (Mormyl’)

Starostina Tatiana (2020) "Chromatism in harmonies of the Christmas Festive Triptych by archimandrite Matthew (Mormyl’) ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2020, vol. 37, pp. 157-174 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV202037.157-174


The article studies chromatic elements in harmony of chants and compositions of the Christmas Festive Triptych by archimandrite Matthew (Mormyl’). The initial section of the article provides information about the Christmas Triptych as an individual spiritual, educational and creative project by Revd. Matthew dedicated to the 2000th anniversary of the Nativity of Christ. The author substantiates the thesis about the relationship between the nature of the celebration and the harmonic language of Christmas cycle chants, including those of arch. Matthew in the Christmas Triptych. An important feature of the harmony of the Christmas Triptych is the abundance of chromatisms. Chromatics are used here in accordance with the Greek meaning of the word “chroma” as “paint”, i.e. chromatic combinations are scattered throughout the pages of the Triptych like decorations on a Christmas tree. The analytical section of the article deals with musical and theoretical concepts of chromatics. It is concluded that chromatics of modal origin dominate in the Triptych. Such chromaticity involves a comparison of two supporting tonal centres located in diatonic relationship, each of which is supported by its auxiliary dominant. It is this harmonious circulation which is present in the most important chants of the Triptych, i.e. the most famous tune of the Christmas troparion of the 4th echos and the kondak of the Nativity of Christ of Bulgarian singing and harmonisation by Bortnyansky. Less frequent is the modulation chromaticity, in which the transition from one key to another is carried out through a side dominant, including the one with a high introductory tone of a harmonic minor. In the Christmas Festive Triptych, several fragments stand out where chromatic combinations occur in conditions of ellipsis. In isolated cases, there is a fret change in the fi nal cadence: minor tonic is replaced by major. The systematic occurrence of chromatic elements in the harmony of the Christmas Festive Triptych is one of the factors in the intonational unity of the whole multi-part composition.


Christmas Festive Triptych, archimandrite, chromatism, deviation, hemigroup, ellipsis, tonality


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Information about the author

Starostina Tatiana

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Art Criticism;
Academic Rank: Associate Professor;
Place of work: Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory; 13/1 Bol’shaia Nikitskaia, Moscow 125009, Russian Federation;
Post: Associated Professor, Russian Music History Division;
ORCID: 0000-0002-5357-8696;
Email: i.starostin@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.