YGO is a multimedia project involving 3 artists from St.Petersburg, Russia. YGO is a synthesis of experimental music, video art and unique ancient Russian singing tradition “Znamenny Raspev” (Znamenny Chant). One of the goals of the project is to familiarize the general public with the treasures of Russian Spiritual music and liturgical chant.
Byzantine Orthodox religion was brought to Early Russ in X century, long before first Russian cantor's books appeared. Together with the new faith, Russia also adopted its already complex system of religious service. This included liturgical chant. It took several hundred years for Christianity to take root and for liturgical chant to be adapted to Russian settings. Gradually the tunes and motifs of Byzantine “Osmoglasiye” transformed and acquired features of national Russian music and character. In the course of this, the chant became known in Russian as “Znamenny raspev”. It was this type of monodic chant that remained predominant in the Russian church up to XVI century. After XVIII century it was almost forgotten until its “discovery” in the end of XIX alongside with iconic art.
Znamenny Raspev chants are sung in unison. This style of singing, though less picturesque if compared to polyphony, enables to create an icon-like type of music, a plain laconic 2-dimension melodic pattern instead of a 3-dimension pattern of polyphonic singing, which is definitely richer in colours. Perspective and space inevitably come along with the idea of materiality, tangibility of the world, which is reflected in the wide and deep spacious accords of the polyphonic harmonised vocal, while the monophonic melodic (monodic) line is similar to the ancient icon in creating flat, non-perspective images, which alone establish certain estrangement from the visible, tangible world.
As it happens so often, the musical structure of the half-forgotten ancient tradition of Znamenny Raspev has something in common with modern music concepts. Electronic and 'just intonation' music use the same modes as Byzantine and Old Russian monodic singing. The essence of the YGO project is to achieve the synthesis of these two concepts. Thus the project is neither reconstruction nor restoration of ancient tradition. It's an authentic and distinctive music supported by original video art and may be more likely referred to modern experimental and avant-garde music trends.