Research Article| Volume 27, ISSUE 5, P656.e1-656.e12, September 2013

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Acoustic Characteristics of Modern Greek Orthodox Church Music

  • Dimitrios S. Delviniotis
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dimitrios S. Delviniotis, Department of Informatics and Telecommunications, University of Athens, 1st Parodos Mannas 11, 30200 Messsologi, Etoloakarnania, Greece.
    Department of Informatics and Telecommunications, University of Athens, Ilisia, Athens, Greece
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      Some acoustic characteristics of the two types of vocal music of the Greek Orthodox Church Music, the Byzantine chant (BC) and ecclesiastical speech (ES), are studied in relation to the common Greek speech and the Western opera.

      Study Design

      Vocal samples were obtained, and their acoustic parameters of sound pressure level (SPL), fundamental frequency (F0), and the long-time average spectrum (LTAS) characteristics were analyzed.


      Twenty chanters, including two chanters-singers of opera, sang (BC) and read (ES) the same hymn of Byzantine music (BM), the two opera singers sang the same aria of opera, and common speech samples were obtained, and all audio were analyzed.


      The distribution of SPL values showed that the BC and ES have higher SPL by 9 and 12 dB, respectively, than common speech. The average F0 in ES tends to be lower than the common speech, and the smallest standard deviation (SD) of F0 values characterizes its monotonicity. The tone-scale intervals of BC are close enough to the currently accepted theory with SD equal to 0.24 semitones. The rate and extent of vibrato, which is rare in BC, equals 4.1 Hz and 0.6 semitones, respectively. The average LTAS slope is greatest in BC (+4.5 dB) but smaller than in opera (+5.7 dB). In both BC and ES, instead of a singer's formant appearing in an opera voice, a speaker's formant (SPF) was observed around 3300 Hz, with relative levels of +6.3 and +4.6 dB, respectively.


      The two vocal types of BM, BC, and ES differ both to each other and common Greek speech and opera style regarding SPL, the mean and SD of F0, the LTAS slope, and the relative level of SPF.

      Key Words

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