Take the 2-minute tour ×
Musical Practice & Performance Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Specifically for music composed earlier than the third or fourth century A.D.

I have heard several reports about deciphering examples of ancient greek musical notation. And you can find CDs of "reconstituted" ancient music although I never had an opportunity to hear one.

  • Have we been able to reconstruct ancient instruments of these times?

  • Do we know if some melody we still play come from ancient greek or roman folklore?

share|improve this question
1  
Is there any evidence that we do? –  Matthew Read Apr 29 '11 at 13:19
    
You are right, I will try to rephrase the question. –  ogerard Apr 29 '11 at 13:30
    
Much better, I like this version. +1 –  Matthew Read Apr 29 '11 at 13:44
    
I still don't like the question title. "Can we know something" strikes me as a bit dull, or obviously yes. What about "How much do we know about ancient Greek and Roman music?" ? –  NReilingh Apr 30 '11 at 20:24
1  
Interesting question. I believe the Ancient Greeks used a primitive form of notation which the Romans inherited. Not a lot of music has survived from either culture, though undoubtedly they did later influence classical music. –  Noldorin May 3 '11 at 22:10

2 Answers 2

To paraphrase and oversimplify 'Mastering the Scales and Arpeggios' by James Francis Cooke, the answer (for Greek) is, 'not very much.' There is a very large problem with ancient Greek writing on the subject. We don't really know what the words mean. Much ink has been spilled by writers purporting to know what the words mean, but in the end, there's perishing little evidence to support their theories.

share|improve this answer

As I noted in a comment already, I believe they used hexachords (scales consisting of six notes) and the four modi.

But now why I decided to write an answer: the instruments. They had harps and flutes as is to be seen in Greek art. It is possible there are more, but I have seen vases with harps on it (well, images of them) and statues with flutes (yeah, images) myself.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.