musicologist-medievalist, PhD in Art, Honored Worker of Art of RA, Professor, Pro-Rector for Research Affairs of the Komitas State Conservatory in Yerevan, Head of the Folk Music Department of the Institute of Arts of the National Academy of Scineces of RA, Senior Researcher, Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Komitas Museum-Institute, Artistic Director of the Geghard Vocal Ensemble.
Navoyan is the author of more than 40 articles and the following monographs: The Origin of the Tagh Genre and Free Musical Mentality in the Armenian Medieval Professional Song Art (2001), Fragments from the History of Armenian Music (2009). His research is focused on Armenian medieval music, the eight-mode system in the Armenian music, Armenian art music etc.
THE DATING OF ONE OF THE OLDEST DOCUMENTS
RELATED TO THE ARMENIAN EIGHT-MODE SYSTEM
The work entitled Commentary on the Church Orders by Movses Kertoghahayr in manuscript format has survived in two extant samples. The first one has survived in the codex presenting the Commentary on the Pericopes by Grigor Arsharuny (VII-VIII centuries), copied in the XI century. Today it is kept under no.475 at the Manuscript Repository of the Mekhitarian Congregation of Venice. The second example was recopied in the XVII century; it was belonging to H. Kurdian’s private collection. The writing was put into circulation in the early XX century via two different publications.
The work discussed here belongs to commentary genre. Most likely, it is a survived fragment of a larger piece. The piece concerns the church orders, presumably the liturgical ones. Despite its small volume, the work provides rich information about early medieval Armenian music. The writing is of significant importance in view of the Biblical concept of the eight-mode system, numerical symbolism, the distinctive use of the psalms in accordance with the eight modes, as well as in view of the interpretation of the certain parts of the early chants and so on.
The work can be provisionally divided into two parts. In the first part, the author adverts to Biblical references and various Christian symbols, thus justifying the existence and the ideological significance of the eight-mode system. At the end of this part, under the interpretation of the numerical symbols of the eight modes the author refers to the eight psalm canons arranged in accordance with the eight-mode system, which substituted a part of the Armenian Church Night Office. They are extensive series of psalms, which represent almost the complete liturgical use of the Psalms in the Armenian Church within the eight-mode system. This episode of the Night Office is followed by commentaries on several constituent parts of the Morning Office.
The research on this work in Armenian musicological studies was conducted in the XX century. In 1972, the Armenian musicologist Nikoghos Tahmizyan attributed it to Movses Syunetsi (VII-VIII centuries). However, it is generally accepted in the Armenian Studies that Movses Kertoghahayr, mentioned in the title of the work, is considered to be St. Movses Khorenatsi (V century).
The piece itself contains enough evidence for resolving this contradiction, as the wording related to the Armenian Liturgy and the history of the collections of Armenian sacred chants, as well as their particular components, along with other key notions allow determining the time period of the creation of this work.