Periods of ancient Greek music
According to Willi Apel the Greek music is divided into four periods.
a) Archaic period (8th century BC, about mid-
During Homer's time (8th century BC) music in Greece was already an art. It was not confined to religious worship (as happened in other cultures), but it was present in every social activity; everybody could practice music regardless of the social group they belonged . There were instruments like Lyra, forminx, syrinx. Later on, (7th-
"Lyric" was a poem appropriate to be sung to the accompaniment of lyre. Sappho, Alcaeus, Tyrtaeus, Solon and Pindar were some of the most important Representatives of lyric poetry. In ancient times an instrument appeared named "piktis" (Ionic dialect). Maybe this term refers to the harp. As Aristoxenus mentions, Sappho was the first to use the mixolydian mode and she first invented the piktis. In the dictionary "Suidas" it is said that she also invented the first key (plektron) ever.
b) Classical period (about 550-
A new spesific mode of fiction was based on dithyramb; it was called "drama". The three forms of drama: Tragedy, comedy, satyr play. People in Athens were very involved with music. They used to learn by ear and play at home, or at banquets. Aristophanes' audience could recognize musical references to an older or contemporary music , comparing to their times. Typical is the case of "The Frogs" (405 BC). The story refers to a drama contest between Aeschylus and Euripides. The Contest takes place in Hades; Dionysus is the judge. In this comedy there is a use of different poetic structures as a reference to different musical idioms and scales (harmoniae). These differences were understood by the audience of that time.
The great poets: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes
c) Around 404 BC-
By the middle of the 5th century BC, parallel to the pick of the drama and art, another musical perception was taking place. This new perception dominated after the fall of Athens in 404 BC, which marked the end of the Peloponnesian war. The teaching of music was to be declined, particularly among the upper social groups. Taste changed between the audience, as it had been strongly influenced by the bloody war. Now, people were interested in choral singing and had no interest about the moral content of the tragedy. Philoxenus and Timothy of Miletus (447-
In the 3rd century BC, during the racecourse shows, there was music which sounded from an instrument called hydraulis. This Keyboard instrument is considered to be the ancestor of the pipe organ and its construction is attributed to Ctesibius from Alexandria. (The same man was the inventor of fire pumps and hydraulic watches. He also did many experiments with steam and compressed air). An hydraulis of 1st century BC has been found , thought not in good condition. It is exhibited in the archaeological museum of Dion (Pieria, Greece)
d) 2nd century BC onwards
The music was not practiced anymore as an art, but it existed as an additional element in various ceremonies, theater festivals etc. Only Mesomedes from Crete (2nd century) worked as a composer at the court of Hadrian. in 1581, in Florence, Vincenzo Galilei, father of the astronomer Galileo Galilei, was the first to print three hymns which are attributed to Mesomedes. "Hymn to the Nemesis", which survives with musical signs , was among them.
water organ (hidraulis)
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