Music in Ancient Greece and Rome

Music in Ancient Greece and Rome

Music in Ancient Greece and Rome

Music in Ancient Greece and Rome

Synopsis

Music in Ancient Greece and Rome provides a comprehensive introduction to the history of music from Homeric times to the Roman emperor Hadrian, presented in a concise and user-friendly way. Chapters include:* contexts in which music played a role* a detailed discussion of instruments* an analysis of scales, intervals and tuning* the principal types of rhythm used* an exploration of Greek theories of harmony and acoustics Music in Ancient Greece and Rome also contains numerous musical examples, with illustrations of ancient instruments and the methods of playing them.

Excerpt

This book is not intended to be a definitive textbook on the music of the ancient Greeks and Romans; it has a more modest objective—to provide an introduction to the study of an interesting (at times baffling) subject, aimed at the student of Classical civilization, the student of the history of music, and at the general reader with an interest in either or both. It may perhaps be helpful to explain a number of policy decisions which have governed the layout and content.

First, this book concentrates very closely on the sonic and practical aspects of music in the ancient civilizations—the instruments and how they were played, and the sounds, notes and rhythms, in so far as we can re-create them. (To this end, I have experimented in Chapter 4 with English translations which reproduce the rhythms of the Greek words; this is a difficult exercise, and if the results have a certain flavour of William McGonagall, I must ask the reader’s indulgence.) It examines the notation the ancients used, and the very small number of musical scores which have survived. I am also very concerned with the role of music in the performance of drama, and in other poetical genres which we do not immediately associate with music. On the intellectual side, the Greek theories about sound, pitch and harmony are treated in some detail, because they yield a lot of information on intonations, scale structures and the sound qualities of various instruments. But on the moral and aesthetic side, the Greek and Roman attitudes towards music, and their suppositions about its possible moral influence, and its role in education and the formation of character, have been copiously discussed by many authors; I feel that, to be honest, I have little to add, and there seems little point in going over such well-trodden ground.

Second, there is the question of the geographical range and the timespan. The great majority of works on Greek music tend to ignore the Roman inheritance of this important tradition, or to pass it over in a few disparaging sentences. It is true, as will be made clear in Chapter 8, that music was of much less importance to the Romans than it had for the Greeks; but that does not mean that the Romans, the ancestors of the

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