A singer, composer, and musical theoretician, Manuel Chrysaphes was called “the New Koukouzeles” by his admirer, the Cretan composer John Plousiadinos. He is the author of at least 300 compositions,
including nearly full modal cycles of liturgical ordinaries (alleluiaria, cheroubika, and koinonika), kalophonic stichera for various movable and fixed feasts throughout the year, kratemata (wordless compositions), and both
simple and kalophonic psalmody for Vespers and Matins.
Little is known of his life, except that he held the office of lampadarios at the Constantinopolitan Court, and received commissions from the last two Byzantine emperors, John VIII Palaiologos and Constantine
XI Palaiologos. Two of his own autographs survive, one from July 1458 in the Iviron Monastery in Mount Athos, and one from July 1463 in the Topkapi Palace collection. He is also one of the few Byzantine musicians to write
on theoretical issues. His surviving treatise, On the Theory of the Art of Chanting and On Certain Erroneous Views That Some Hold about It, is an invaluable guide to Byzantine music and the evolution of Byzantine singing in
the late Palaiologan period.