Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ancient Music of Greece

Here's a site that lets you listen to Greek music from a couple thousand years ago. Just click on any of the numbered items at the bottom, and listen in Real Player or Windows Media Player.

The music is actually written down--ancient fragments of tunes that survived, like the bit of parchment at right. This was copied from the music site, and apparently was preserved in a Middle Ages manuscript. (Medieval bookmakers often grabbed old parchment to press together into book covers) (my ignorant layman's explanation).

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I'm kinda glad the ancients stuck to philosophy and writing plays. In fact, I suspect some of these ancient music authorities let their preschoolers sneak in a plastic recorder ditty or two.

OTOH, how do we know that these notes aren't intended more as cheat-sheets for professionals (fake books, IOW), who could probably improvise, harmonize, and in general give a much fuller sound than what we hear on these recordings? Just a guess.

You can also click on "Homeric singing" to hear what the Iliad sounded like, way back then. All courtesy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

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