The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



or znamena, in music, symbols in Old Russian staffless musical notation; the combinations of small lines, commas, and dots were of Byzantine origin and were used in Russian church singing.

Kriuki indicated the direction of movement of the voice, tempo changes, and accents. Using the notation, a singer could be reminded of a familiar tune but could not sing an unfamiliar metody. In the 14th and 15th centuries new combinations of kriuki were used that denoted motifs rather than the individual movement of a voice. In the 16th century and the first half of the 17th, kriuki notation was used for putevoi and demestvennyi singing as well as for the znamennyi chant.

The system of “cinnabar letters,” which clarified the interval relationships among the kriuki symbols, was introduced in the first half of the 17th century. In the 1660’s, A. Mezenets, with the same goal in mind, developed a system of shaded (black) signs. At the end of the 17th century the kriuki notation was superseded by the five-line staff notation and remained in use only among the Old Believers.


Razumovskii, D. V. Tserkovnoe penie v Rossii. Moscow, 1867.
Smolenskii, S. Azbuka znamennogo peniia…. Kazan, 1888.
Smolenskii, S. O drevnerusskikh pevcheskikh notatsiiakh. St. Petersburg, 1901.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.