Ancient Greek music
‘We have been left with clear instructions, thousands of years old, about how to create instruments used to play the music with mathematical precision.’
Dr Armand D’Angour
“Τίθησί με Σείκιλος ἔνθα μνήμης ἀθανάτου σῆμα πολυχρόνιον”
“Seikilos placed me here as an undying memorial for all time.”
In a somewhat over-the-top article in the Daily Mail, Dr Armand D’Angour talks about Ancient Greek music and provides us a haunting sample of his reconstruction of the Seikilos epitaph.
I’ve heard this kind of thing before and I think it sounds like the sort of music you would expect from a Classics scholar. I have a hard time accepting that the music that so moved the ancients was so static and lifeless. Like a good deal of medieval music, I think there is good reason to believe the notation was the basis for a much more lively improvisation. Any folk musician of even basic ability would provide a much more interesting performance.
I believe that Ancient Greek music probably sounded more like this Ciftetelli in a Turkish folk music style which could be quite similar the practice of the Ancient Greeks. The piece uses similar modes or scales, similar instrumentation and come from similar geographic regions, but the style of performance is much more human and musical.
- How did ancient Greek music really sound? (bbc.co.uk)
- What Ancient Greek Music Sounded Like: Hear a Reconstruction That is ‘100% Accurate’ (openculture.com)
- Armand D’Angour and the Sound of Greek Music (rogueclassicism.com)