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December 19, 2013 5:19 PM   Subscribe

How Did Ancient Greek Music Sound?
The music of ancient Greece, unheard for thousands of years, is being brought back to life by Armand D'Angour, a musician and tutor in classics at Oxford University. He describes what his research is discovering.
Song Of The Sirens

Getting In The Flow: Dr. Armand D'Angour at TEDxOxbridge

Dr. David Creese: What Ancient Greek Music Sounded Like, playing the Seikilos Epitaph: The Oldest Song In The World (another version, yet another version)
As long as you live, shine
Let nothing grieve you beyond measure
For your life is short
and time will claim its toll

The phorminx, the epigonion (or psaltery, or canon[?]). More reconstruction of ancient Greek instruments.

The ASTRA Project " aims to reconstruct the sound or timbre of ancient instruments (not existing anymore) using archaeological data as fragments from excavations, written descriptions, pictures..." (how) and has several examples of simulated instruments. More at the Lost Sounds Orchestra.

Dr. D'angour also wrote two Pindaric odes for the 2004 and 2012 Olympics.
posted by the man of twists and turns (12 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite

That first "another version" link is gorgeous. Haunting, but gorgeous.
posted by yoink at 5:53 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Or try this:
Atrium Musicae de Madrid, Musique de la Grèce antique (1979)
posted by homerica at 5:54 PM on December 19, 2013

I remember a lecture from college discussing Ancient Greek music and how, well, otherworldly, it could sound. The professor giving the lecture argued that when we think of Plato's advocating the banning of music (in The Republic, I think), we should not hear what we regard as normal music, but something that was much less rousing and was, in a way, likely to depress the spirit, rather than raise it.

I don't entirely agree with the thesis, but listening to this stuff (I heard some things like it during that class), makes me remember that there is a valid point in there.
posted by Hactar at 6:00 PM on December 19, 2013

You Civ V players out there may remember this little ditty.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:15 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

thanks TMOTAT.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:03 PM on December 19, 2013

Except that's the "peace" tune, and you never hear that, because Alexander is a warmongering asshole. >=[
posted by curious nu at 8:06 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love love love the Seikilos Epitaph. Because it's modal and simple and has that little blue note at the end of the last figures it always reminded me a little of miles davis.

The actual stone it's on is really cool. Here's a detail sort of rubbing of the inscription which is cool also. Also cool is the polytonic transcription.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:08 PM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've also thought a line from the Seikilos in the polytonic transcription would make a really sweet tattoo.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:10 PM on December 19, 2013

The second ode link is one reason I continue to be such an Anglophile. The Telegraph actually printed the original just as D'Angour composed it, in Ancient Greek, following the English translation.

Thank you, TMOTAT, this is charming, lovely, nostalgic and exciting all at once.
posted by Anitanola at 10:30 PM on December 19, 2013

Daemonia Nymphe, a Greek band, use Ancient Greek instruments. I don't know how much of the "the band's music is modeled after Ancient Greek music" written on Wikipedia is true, but here are Dance of the Satyrs and Daemonos, that may please someone in this thread.
posted by khonostrov at 3:28 AM on December 20, 2013

I can hear why they're relating this to early medieval music. I wouldn't call it depressing, either, but it is a bit otherworldly, and must have been moreso in the contemporary period (never mind now when recorded music is constantly available).
posted by immlass at 1:30 PM on December 20, 2013

a whole day and not a single eponysterical

some classy people in this thread then, oughta go get my pince-nez
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:06 PM on December 20, 2013

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