I'm researching music for the SCA, and I'm supposed to be looking for specific music from the Russian (as a culture) area. I have plenty of information on Medieval music as a whole, but I can't find anything separate. Is there a distinct Medieval-Russian style?

  • SCA is the Society of Creative Anachronisms. It's a medieval period reenactment group whose focus is historical accuracy.
    – Caleb
    Dec 16, 2016 at 21:23
  • 2
    I first read that as the "Society of Creative Acronyms." Now I'm kind of disappointed that's not what it means.
    – Richard
    Dec 16, 2016 at 21:32
  • That's it... we are making the Acronyms a real society!
    – Caleb
    Dec 16, 2016 at 21:38
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  • As far as I know, the only written music surviving that would have been performed in medieval Russia is Byzantine chant, which of course was a very small part of the complete musical culture. Everything else is speculative. You'll just have to heed that hallowed SCA maxim: when in doubt, fake it. Just throw in a gusli. Dec 17, 2016 at 12:30

1 Answer 1


... on a more serious note, Russia inherits southwards, so one can find music specific to those:


There's also various folk choirs who can probably provide music or more information:


On the scholarship front, Gustave Reese in "Music in the Middle Ages" points to the marriage of Prince Vladimir and Princess Anna (sister of Byzantine Emperor Basil II) that brought along priests, monks, and singers; shortly afterwards came Greek teachers (in 1053, reign of Yaroslav I) and thence to the famous choirs at Kiev, Moscow, Novgorod, Vladimir, Pskov, and Bogoliubov Monastery. From this, there should be both Byzantium and southern slavic influences.

A specific Russian form of notation (adapted from the Greek) is the kriuki or znamenny notation, which can be traced as far back as the 11th century, though documentation is fairly scant from back then. Znamenny Chant (or "Kriukovoi Znamenny Rospiev") lasted up until about the 17th century, whose notation was worked on and standardized by Ivan Akimovich Shaidurov and the monk Alexander Mesenetz (with complications on account of the plague).

Russian chant came into its own perhaps in the 12th to 14th centuries, alongside the development of the Slavonic language, though appears to have had a period of muddling, rectified on the order of Ivan the Terrible in 1551 "for the formation of institutions for the teaching of reading, writing, and singing;" (p.99) the best schools were at Moscow and Novgorod, and the best choirs of the Tsar and the Patriarch.

  title={Music in the Middle Ages: with an introduction on the music of ancient times},
  author={Reese, Gustave},
  publisher={New York: WW Norton}

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