The medieval Russian chant books were formed on the basis of the Byzantine liturgical ones. It should notice that by the ΧΙ century the main types of liturgical musical books in Byzantine chant tradition had already been formed.
Irmologion is a liturgical chant book wich is consisted of irmoses, that is, the first stanzas of each of the 9 odes of the hymnographic canons from the Oktoechos, the Triodion and Pentecostarion and the Menaion. The texts of the irmos are connected thematically with the biblical odes that served as the basis for the hymnographic canons. Following the model of the first irmos all the troparia, were sung in the Byzantine tradition. Relatively complete Irmologions in Greek have survived from the Χth century. All the byzantine Irmologions has one main criterion, namely the distribution of all irmos according to 8 modes. At the same time two traditions of organizing texts have developed, according to canons or according to the odes of the canon.
In the byzantine Irmologions all types of Byzantine notation from the most archaic to late Byzantine one are represented. The unique feature of this chant book is the conversation of Byzantine melodies from their creation to the stable melodic tradition. The melodies of irmoses are quite simple, which is explained by the use of each melody for a variety of texts, which the singers often had to know by heart. In the scientific literature, two types of Byzantine Irmologions are distinguished according to the melodic formulas and musical style. The first is recorded in ancient manuscriptsa and is more stable, the second one appears at the end of the ΧΙΙΙ century and is often associated with the name of St. John Kukuzel. The greek Irmologions, created during the 16th-19th centuries, as a rule, are either collections of canons or a collection of katavasias of canons. Also from the end of the XVI century author's melodic versions of Irmologions began to appear and become popular in chant tradition.
The Old Russian Irmologion was borrowed from Byzantium and, just like in one of the types of Byzantine Irmologion, in this Slavonic book the irmoses were arranged in 8 sections according to the octoehos system, and within the each mode — according the order of the oodes of the canon. Some indications of dedications, from which the irmos are borrowed, are given in separate manuscripts in the margins. For example, in the 1st tone, the canons of Easter, the Week of Thomas, the Week of the Cross, the Nativity of Christ, the 1st canon of the Dormition of the Theotokos, 1st canon of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple; in the 2nd tone - the canons of the Circumcision of the Lord and Theophany, the 1st canon of the Nativity of the Virgin; in the 3rd tone - the canon of the Meeting of the Lord, in the 4th tone - the canons of the Annunciation, the Week of Vay, the 2nd canon of the Ascension of the Lord, the canons of Pentecost, the 1st canon of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the 2nd canon of the Assumption of the Virgin, the 2nd canon Introduction of the Virgin into the temple; in the 5th tone - the 1st canon of the Ascension; in the 6th tone - the Great Canon, the canons on Maundy Thursday, on Great Friday, on Great Saturday; in the 7th tone - the 2nd canon of Pentecost; in the 8th tone - the 2nd canons of the Midnight, Transfiguration and Nativity of the Virgin, the canon of the Exaltation.
Since the 16th century, Irmologion, as a rule, is preceded by a title, accompanied by a colorful headband: "The book of the verb Irmology. The creation of our venerable father John of Damascus". The modes in Irmologions are separated by independent headings written in cinnabar and in larger type. Cinnabar also highlights the inscriptions of the song within the mode and the initials of the irmos. Formed in the 12th century, the composition of the texts of ancient Russian Irmologion remained fairly stable until the 17th century, when the number of irmos in odes instead of the usual 10-12 reached 20 or more. The difference in the number of irmos determines whether each manuscripts belongs to the full or short version. In the 18th century, the short version of Irmologion was more often copied.
The verbal text of the Irmoses may differ in Irmologions of different times, due to the copying of different texts or even different translations of the Greek text; in connection with the use of the ancient, pre-reform "razdelnorechie" versions or post-reform "istinnorechie" ones.
Most of the surviving Irmologions are notated. The notation of the early Znamenny Irmologions is of Byzantine origin; it reproduces the dictionary of signs of the early Byzantine coislin notation. The melodies of irmos belong to the syllabic type of melos, contain a small number of melismatic formulas. Probably, in the ancient Russian liturgical tradition, all the troparia of the canon were sung according to the model of the irmos, as evidenced by the surviving manuscripts of the 12th-13th centuries, containing the fully notated canons of the Menaion, Triodion and Paraclete (a kind of Octoechos). Later, the troparia of the canon began to be read, and only irmoses were sung: in 1551, the reading of the canons was legalized at the Stoglav Cathedral.
In the first half of the 15th century, at a transitional stage in the development of the Old Russian chant tradition, different versions of the form of irmologion's melos appeared, due to changes not only in the melos itself (enlargement of melodic lines and the removal of intermediate cadences, changes in the placement of accented neumes and in the formula composition of chants), but also in the pronunciation of a verbal text (partial reduction of semivowels and clarification of stem vowels) and in its lexical composition. In the 17th century the old-Russian singers created Irmologions in special polyphonic styles. From the XVIII-XIX centuries the monodic Irmologions of the Znamenny chant, which existed in the Old Believer parishes, where this book received a different subtitle — "Irmoses", have been preserved.
Triodion is a chant book that includes hymns of a movable liturgical circle. This book divides on the Lenten and Pentecostarion according to the composition of liturgical hymns. Triodion is one of the liturgical books, preserved in the manuscripts of the 12-13 centuries. These manuscripts reflect the initial stage of development of the ancient Russian chant tradition. During the 15-17 centuries, the Triodion as a multi-genre book moving liturgical circle, giving way to the Stihirarion. However, in the 18 century, it is assumed that the book similar to the title began to be used in the Old Believer parishes. Also, the subtitle "Triod" have books that include chain chants in 5-linear notation.
Octoechos as a collection of Sunday hymns for 8 modes in the Byzantine tradition was originally written as a part of the Stihirarion, however, from the 17th century, special books containing octoechos compositions began to spread in various author's versions, under the subtitle "Anastasimatarion".
In old-Russian chant practice, the notated book of Oktoechos appears in the 15th century, which is associated with the formation of the classical version of the znamenny chant and the special formulas, which were most clearly reflected precisely in Sunday melodic compositions for 8 lases. In the practice of the Old Believers, the book acquired a special name - "Oktay".
As a special type of chant book, Obikhod developed approximately by the middle of the 16th century. The book of the Byzantine tradition "Acoluthia", similar to Obikhod, appeared in the first half of the 14th century and was associated with the development of the calophonic melodic style. It recorded the unchanging chants of various Byzantine composers in a new style, rather embellished and lengthy in comparison with earlier chants - in all likelihood, syllabic and common to a greater extent in oral practice.
The main reasons for the emergence of "Obikhod" in old-Russian liturgical practice, the researchers consider the transition at the turn of the 14-15th centuries to the celebration of services according to the Jerusalem Typicon instead of the Studian one and the introduction of the singing performance of those texts that were previously read. The title "Obikhod" emphasizes the "ordinary" nature of those chants that are written in this book. In the manuscripts, everyday services and hymns are also called "the most necessary church needs", "The attendance of the most necessary church needs ... evening, morning and liturgical; and ... Lenten singing and holy Pascha and all Bright Weeks" et cetera.
The book "Obikhod" presents for the most part the unchanging hymns of the all-night vigil and the liturgy. Compared to other chant books, the content of this book is characterized by a variety of melodic styles, as well as by the complexity of the structure. Obikohs also includes chants of private worship, or trebnik, as well as unchanging and some variable chants of the services of Great Lent, Passion Week and Easter, a number of rites of the Trebnik. Obikhod also contains individual chants from Oktay, Menaia, Triodion, Irmologion, Stihirarion and Psalter, which is due to the desire to create a book that would cover all the main chants of the church service. In addition to the hymns, the Common Order often includes some remarks and comments concerning concerning the method and even the nature of the performance, which is not typical for other singing books. They can describe the distribution of chants between the two choirs, specify the participants in the service (priest, deacon, ecclesiarch, canonarch, headmaster) pronounciations of textc, whether the chants are sung "well-spoken" or "easily", "inertly" or "cheerfully" , what mode and so on. The hymns of Obikhod are arranged according to the order of worship according to the Typicon.
According to the completeness of the content, the manuscripts of this book are different and can be divided into three types. Simple Obikhods contain only chants of the daily circle, and the full Obihods are the most typical and consisted of three parts. Some of the Obikhods also contain additional sections, for example, the prayer canon of the Mother of God, the rite of the Panagia, the weekly kathismas et cetera. In the Old Believer chant traditions, the book "Obikhod" acquired peculiar features, due to its existence in various Old Believer units. In the priestly Old Believer communities, two books based on the Old Russian "Obikhod" turned out to be common - "Obikhod" proper, containing mainly the chants of the all-night vigil, and "Obednitsa". The latter included exclusively the hymns of the Liturgy. "Obikhod", which was used in the liturgical practice of the Old Believers-bespriests, does not have a section of chants of the Liturgy, due to its absence in the liturgical circle of these communities.
The stihirarion of the menaion and the triodion are chant books containing cycles of chants of one genre - stichera - according to the liturgical order (of the annual fixed and movable circles, respectively). In the Byzantine tradition, these books had a long period of development. In the 15th century, a special version of the Stichirarion was formed, in which the calophonic versions of the stichera were written in a specially decorated melodic style, the creation of which is associated with the activities of St. John Kukuzel. Subsequently, the author's Stihirarion are added, for example, by Herman of Neopatras, Chrysaf the New et cetera. During the 17th century, this book gradually supplanted the book "Doksastarion" of various author's versions, which contains only selected final sticheras of the cycles, after "Glory…".
Stihirarions were borrowed from Byzantine liturgical practice and were widespread in the liturgical practice of Old Russia during the 12–17th centuries. By the 17th century, the Old Russian Stichirarions was gradually transformed into four different types of books, namely: the Stichirar "Dyachy's eye", the Stichirar trezvonny, Prazdniki and Trezvony.
The chant book "Prazdniki" concludes the compositions of the Twelve Feasts, i.e. selected stichera from the liturgical books Stichirarios, as well as the full books of the Menaion and the Triode. The general title of the "Prazdniki" is "The beginning of the feasts of the sovereign and the Mother of God, for the whole summer," but only the incipit of the first service "Mtsa Septevria on the 8th day of the Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary" can be distinguished. The book, especially this version that took place during the second half of the 18th century, is characterized by an expansion of the genre composition. For example, it can contain not only stichera, but also troparia for holidays, as well as magnifications, dostotsniks, sacraments, and so on. In the Old Believer's "Prazdniki" it is often possible to identify additional chants of main compositions, with the indications such as "big" or "in".
The Trezvons are also a variation of the earlier book of Byzantine origin, the Stihirarion, but containing cycles of stichera not of the twelfth feasts, but of the so-called "small feasts" and the most significant revered saints. The structure remained unstable throughout the 18th century, but the sequence of services generally follows the order of the liturgical year.