What Did Ancient Greece Sound Like? Classicists Reconstruct Music From This Period
Missing from the world for thousands of years, the music of Ancient Greece has been reassembled to sound exactly as it did back then.
‘What song the Sirens sang?’ wondered Sir Thomas Browne in 1658. The present reconstruction of Ancient Greek music is bringing us closer the answer of this question. Armand D’Angour, a Classic Literature professor at the University of Oxford is bringing some of the melodies this classical civilization used to listen to thousands of years ago, back to life.
We often forget that the root-texts of Western literature —Homer’s epics, Sophos love poems, the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides— where, originally, music. Written between 750 and 400 BC, these were composed with the purpose of being sung, musicalized by a lyre, reed pipes or flutes and drums. Over two thousand years later, academics have finally figured out a way of reconstructing and playing these songs with apparent precision. D’Angour explains:
The instruments are known from descriptions, paintings and archaeological remains, which allow us to establish the timbres and range of pitches they produced.
And now, new revelations about ancient Greek music have emerged from a few dozen ancient documents inscribed with a vocal notation devised around 450 BC, consisting of alphabetic letters and signs placed above the vowels of the Greek words.
The Greeks had worked out the mathematical ratios of musical intervals – an octave is 2:1, a fifth 3:2, a fourth 4:3, and so on.
So, what did Greek music sound like? You can listen to David Creese, a classicist from the University of Newcastle, playing an ancient Greek song interpreted from stone inscriptions on an eight-string ’canon’ (a zither-like instrument) with movable bridges. Creese plays a song, which according to Archaeology Magazine is attributed to Seikilos. Listening to it can transport us to the origins of our sonorous world. The lyrics can be translated as:
While you’re alive, shine:
never let your mood decline.
We’ve a brief span of life to spend:
Time necessitates an end.
Pictorial spiritism (a woman's drawings guided by a spirit)
There are numerous examples in the history of self-taught artists which suggest an interrogation of that which we take for granted within the universe of art. Such was the case with figures like
Astounding fairytale illustrations from Japan
Fairy tales tribal stories— are more than childish tales. Such fictions, the characters of which inhabit our earliest memories, aren’t just literary works with an aesthetic and pleasant purpose. They
A cinematic poem and an ode to water: its rhythms, shapes and textures
Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water. - John Keats Without water the equation of life, at least life as we know it, would be impossible. A growing hypothesis holds that water, including the
Watch beauty unfold through science in this "ode to a flower" (video)
The study of the microscopic is one of the richest, most aesthetic methods of understanding the world. Lucky is the scientist who, upon seeing something beautiful, is able to see all of the tiny
To invent those we love or to see them as they are? Love in two of the movies' favorite scenes
So much has been said already, of “love” that it’s difficult to add anything, much less something new. It’s possible, though, perhaps because even if you try to pass through the sieve of all our
This app allows you to find and preserve ancient typographies
Most people, even those who are far removed from the world of design, are familiar with some type of typography and its ability to transform any text, help out dyslexics or stretch an eight page paper
The secrets of the mind-body connection
For decades medical research has recognized the existence of the placebo effect — in which the assumption that a medication will help produces actual physical improvements. In addition to this, a
The sea as infinite laboratory
Much of our thinking on the shape of the world and the universe derives from the way scientists and artists have approached these topics over time. Our fascination with the mysteries of the
Sharing and collaborating - natural movements of the creative being
We might sometimes think that artistic or creative activity is, in essence, individualistic. The Genesis of Judeo-Christian tradition portrays a God whose decision to create the world is as vehement
John Malkovich becomes David Lynch (and other characters)
John Malkovich and David Lynch are, respectively, the actor and film director who’ve implicitly or explicitly addressed the issues of identity and its porous barriers through numerous projects. Now