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The Modern Russian Eight Tones

The following audio files represent the singing tradition of the modern Russian Orthodox Church, both in Russia and in its émigré communities. This includes the majority of parishes in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Orthodox Church of America, as well as numerous mission parishes in various other Orthodox jurisdictions. These generic melodies are well suited for most modern church choirs, and can accommodate any style of text or any language. By modern tradition, these melodies are harmonized with four voices, but the original style of chanting in the Russian Orthodox Church (up until c. 1665) was unison.

Disclaimer: The reader should be aware that there are many other repertoires of melodies for the 8 Tones used by other ethnic groups within the Orthodox Church. The mainstream tradition presented here represents merely one tradition out of many vibrant and beautiful systems of liturgical chanting. For beginners and for church choirs which need to keep their repertoire easy and consistent, this is an excellent starting point, but eventually one will want to dig deeper into the wealth of singing traditions that the Orthodox Church has to offer.

These audio files were found in the archives of St. Tikhon's Seminary. They offer instructive examples of the eight tone system.



The popular designation "Obikhod" (which actually means "Book of Common Chants") is misleading to scholars of Russian Chant, because it fails to identify the repertoire of melodies. Although it would be more accurate to label these as "Russian Common Chant", it seems that we are stuck with the misleading designation of "Obikhod".

  Obikhod Tone 1  
  Obikhod Tone 2  
  Obikhod Tone 4  
  Obikhod Tone 5  
  Obikhod Tone 6  
  Obikhod Tone 7  
  Obikhod Tone 8  

Obikhod 4 Part

  Obikhod 4 Tone 1  
  Obikhod 4 Tone 2  
  Obikhod 4 Tone 4  
  Obikhod 4 Tone 6  
  Obikhod 4 Tone 7  
  Obikhod 4 Tone 8  


Canon - Kievan Chant

"God is the Lord" Kievan Chant

The Prokeimena