Abstract: Ancient Sounds of Greece

Lecturer: Nikos Xanthoulis

The subject of the lecture-concert will be ancient Greek music, dating from 800 B.C. to 400 A.D.  The study of this sophisticated art leads us to the roots of western culture: music, melody, chord, tone, rhythm, poetry, are all words with Greek origins. Our knowledge of ancient Greek music has increased dramatically during the last hundred years, through the evidence of archeology and art, the abundance of references to music in Greek literature from the 8th century onwards, books on ancient Greek music theory from 4th c. B.C. to 4th c. A.D that survive until nowadays, the non-literary documents, the musical scores, and many rediscovered papyri.

In addition to the above-mentioned materials there is another crucial element that adds to our understanding: mythology.  The lecture will also cover the myths concerning music and musicians—and will include songs performed by reconstructed instruments, the ancient lyre and salpinx (ancient trumpet).  The combination of lecture and performance will transport the audience to a world which was the cradle of western civilization.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Comotti, Giovanni. 1989. Music in Greek and Roman Culture.  Baltimore: Johns  Hopkins University Press.

Landels, John G. 1999. Music in Ancient Greece and Rome. London: Routledge.

Anderson, Warren D. 1994. Music and Musicians in Ancient Greece. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Barker, Andrew. 2007. The Science of Harmonics in Classical Greece. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press.

Hagel, Stefan and Christine Harrauer (edd.). 2005. Ancient Greek Music in Performance. Symposion Wien 29. Sept. - 1. Okt. 2003. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Hagel, Stefan. 2010. Ancient Greek Music: A New Technical History.  Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press.

Mathiesen, Thomas J.  1999. Apollo's Lyre: Greek Music and Music Theory in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Meriani, Angelo. 2003. Sulla Musica Greca Antica: Studi e Ricerche. Quaderni del Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Antichità.   Salerno:  Università degli Studi di Salerno.

West, M.L. 1992. Ancient Greek Music. Oxford: Clarendon.

Barker, Andrew. 1984. Greek Musical Writings. Vol I: The Musician and his Art. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press

Barker, Andrew. 1989. Greek Musical Writings. Vol II: Harmonic and Acoustic Theory. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press.Pöhlmann.

Egert,  and Martin L. West, edd.  2001.  Documents of Ancient Greek Music: The Extant Melodies and Fragments. Oxford: Clarendon Press (=DAGM)

Barker, Andrew. 1995. “Heterophonia and Poikilia: Accompaniments to Greek Melody,” in Mousike: Metrica ritmica e musica greca in memoria di Giovanni Comotti, edd. Bruno Gentili and Franca Perusino. Pisa: Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, pp. 41-60.

http://www.oeaw.ac.at/kal/agm, Ancient Greek Music at the Commission for Ancient Literature of the Austrian Academy of Science

http://classics.uc.edu/music, Ancient Greek Music on Papyrus

Featured Lecturer

S. Thomas Parker is Professor with the Department of History, North Carolina State University.  He received degrees from Trinity University (TX) and UCLA (M.A. and Ph.D.), and his areas of... Read More

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