The repetitive chants and rhythms in sacred music create a positive attraction, taking the listener away from small worries and attachments. Sacred music furthermore creates a breathing pattern that unifies the body and the soul. Georgia has a great and highly distinct tradition of polyphonic choral singing. The folk and church songs are an unseparable part of the Georgian treasury and Georgia deservedly is proud of it. In the 1st century, Christianity became known in Georgia and in 337 King Mirian declared it the state religion.
So Georgia, as an oldest Orthodox country, has a great tradition of sacred music. This tradition has been preserved as a vital part of the national identity. The Georgian polyphonic tradition is likely to be oldest than that of Western Europe, and it is characterized by special voice techniques and the use of tones which are very close to each other. By oral trdition the songs and the music pass on from generation to generation. It is primarily the man who do the singing in Georgia.
A typical Georgian song is sung a cappella by men, in three voices. Polyphonic singing has always had its natural place in Georgian social life, at festivities as well as at work. Many Georgian ensembles also pass on the tradition in concert form. There are basically two groups of songs: East Georgian and West Georgian. The East Georgian song often has two solo upper parts and a lower part with flexible drone tones. West Georgian songs are characterized by a pronounced polyphony, which often has a complex melodic structure that disregards harmonic consonance. Georgian church songs (chorals) wich reached the highest point of their development in the 10th-11th centuries, are an outstanding monument of Georgian music.
Academician Ivane Djavakhishvili believes that already in the 9th century if not earlier there existed in Georgia a theory of church singing which was called "the science of voice study". In Georgia's Orthodox Churches and Monasteries as well as in Georgian cultural centres abroad - on Sinai, Athos and in Palestine - a great importence was attached to the art of choral singing. At the same time there appeared books on hymnography - such as collections of eight-voice chants (models of chorales). In collections of church chorales of the 10th and 11th centuries there is mention of such hymnographers as Joane Minchkhi, Mikael Modrekili, Joane Mtbevari, Evtime and Giorgi Mtatsmindeli, Efrem Mtsire and others who not only translated from the Greek texts of chorales but often themselves composed new works.
Chorales recorded in neumatic notation of the first half of the 10th century have, too, reached our times. Graphically Georgian neumes differed from Greek and Latin ones, their system of notation remaining undeciphered up to the present day. It should be studied in comparsion with the early Byzantine system used in Greek chants since initially Georgian church singing developed on the basis of Georgian texts. Later it acquired traditional features of folk polyphonic singing.
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