According to M.L. West, the ancient Greek civilization was steeped in music. "Probably no other people have ever been reported so often in music and musical activities through literature and art ."
Written sources ( such as literature, myths, treatises, philosophical texts ) and a large number of archaeological data collected ( such as vases, sculptures, etc. ) are to support this opinion. Greeks were people of music. However our knowledge on this subject offers us a rather indirect and descriptive understanding of their music. Few we know about the music itself, how it sounded.
From ancient Greek music, a production of about 1000 years, only a few dozen samples have survived . But even these samples are fragmented and scattered with a long distance of time between them. Even fewer of them are in a such a state that it is possible for scientists to study and to extract some certain conclusions . Such samples are for example a) an fragment from the tragedy "Orestes" by Euripides, verses 338-
On the other hand, there are various representations on vases depicting scenes of music, music lessons, concerts, dances, celebrations. Angiographies provide important information about the instruments of those times.
the song of Seikilos
Pythagoras (c 570-
However some treatises survive till nowadays. For example, Aristoxenus of Tarentum ( 4th century BC: elements of Harmony) analyzes some basic rules of music as he knew it. Plato (Phaedo/ on the soul, the republic) and Aristotle (Poetics, metaphysics
During the archaic and classical greek period a poet was also composer, so the term "music" included the music and text. Meters of Lyric and choral poetry provide rhythmic patterns of music which were close to speech and words.
Some meters of the ancient Greek poetry
Hexameter: It consists of foots (-
Iambic trimeter. It is consisted of iambic units (x -
Trochaic tetrameter (υ -
A great part of ancient greek drama were written in iambic trimeter and trochaic tetrameter
Much later, in the late 16th century, Florentine camerata tried to revive the music and drama of ancient Greeks. Those people contributed to the creation of opera, a musical genre that dominated the musical life of Europe until the 20th century, before the emergence of cinema.
"Orestes" by Euripides, verses 338-
1. Albin Lesky, Ιστορία της αρχαίας ελληνικής λογοτεχνίας, μετάφραση Αγαπητού Τσοπανάκη, β' έκδοση, Θεσσαλονίκη 1990
2. Μ.L West, Αρχαία ελληνική μουσική, μετάφραση Στάθης Κομνηνός, εκδόσεις Παπαδήμα 1999
3. Willi Apel, Ηarvard dictionary of music, second edition, eighth printing 1974
4. Suidae Lexicon, Immanuelis Bekkeri, Berolini 1854
5. Νικόλαος Ασπιώτης, Αρχαίοι Έλληνες μουσικοί και σωζόμενα αποσπάσματα, εκδόσεις Δαυλός
6. Δ. Λυπουρλής, αρχαία ελληνική μετρική. μια πρώτη προσέγγιση, εκδόσεις επίκεντρο
8. The Ancient Rhythm of Love