You are on page 1of 49

Chapter

1
Music in Antiquity

Music in Antiquity
Music in Antiquity
The Christian Church in the First Millennium
Roman Liturgy and Chant

Song and Dance Music in the Middle Ages


Polyphony Through the Thirteenth Century
French and Italian
Music in the Fourteenth Century

Music in Antiquity
Only historical traces of the music from past
eras survive.

Physical objects, such as musical instruments


Visual images of musicians and instruments
Writings about music and musicians
Music as preserved in notation

Music in Antiquity (contd)


Ancient Greek music influenced Western
music.
The ancient Greeks left more surviving evidence
than other ancient cultures.
Western music has its roots in antiquity, especially
in ancient Greek theoretical writings.

Prehistoric Music-Making
Before 36,000 b.c.e.: Whistles and flutes made
from animal bones survive from the Stone Age
in Europe.
Sixth millennium b.c.e.: Images in Turkish
cave paintings show drummers accompanying
dancers and driving out game.
Fourth millennium b.c.e.
Surviving Bronze Age metal instruments include
bells, cymbals, rattles, and horns.
Stone carvings show plucked stringed instruments.

F01-01

Ancient Mesopotamia
Home to several cultures, the first true cities,
and the first known forms of writing
(cuneiform)
Some clay tablets written in cuneiform
mention music.
Pictures show music-making with instruments.

F01-02

Ancient Mesopotamia (contd)


Surviving instruments include lyres and harps.
Lyres
Strings run parallel to the resonating soundboard.
A crossbar supported by two arms secures the strings.
The number of strings varies.

Harps
Strings are perpendicular to the soundboard.
A neck attached to the soundbox secures the strings.

F01-03

F01-04

Ancient Mesopotamia (contd)


Other instruments from the period include
lutes, pipes, drums, bells, and other percussion
instruments.
The ruling class left the most evidence because
they could buy instruments and hire scribes.

Ancient Mesopotamia (contd)


Most uses of music in ancient Mesopotamia
were similar to those of today.
For rituals, including weddings and funerals
In daily life, including nursery songs, work songs,
and dance music
For entertainment at feasts
For religious ceremonies and processions
Epics sung with instrumental accompaniment

Ancient Mesopotamia (contd)


Written documentation from Mesopotamia
Word lists from ca. 2500 include terms for
instruments, tuning procedures, performers,
techniques, and genres (types of musical
composition).

Ancient Mesopotamia (contd)


Written documentation (contd)
The earliest known composer is Enheduanna (fl.
ca. 2300 b.c.e.).
She was a high priestess at Ur.
She composed hymns (songs to a god) to the god and
goddess of the moon.
Only the texts of her hymns survive.

Ancient Mesopotamia (contd)


Written documentation (contd)
Babylonian musicians began writing about music
ca. 1800 b.c.e.
Instructions for tuning a string instrument using a sevennote diatonic scale (playable on the white keys of a
piano)
Interval theory, with names of intervals used to create
the earliest known notation
Figure 1.5 dates from ca. 1400 1250 b.c.e.
Not enough is known about the notation to transcribe it.
The poem seems to be a hymn to the wife of the moon god.

F01-05

Ancient Mesopotamia (contd)


Written documentation (contd)
Babylonian musicians (contd)
Although Babylonians had a form of notation,
musicians most likely performed from memory,
improvised, or used notation as a recipe for
reconstructing a melody.
Babylonian music theory seems to have influenced later
Greek theory.

Old Babylonian Music Notation

Other Ancient Civilizations


Instruments, images, and writings about the
musical cultures of India and China survive,
but they seem not to have influenced Greek or
European music.

Other Ancient Civilizations


(contd)
Egyptian sources include artifacts, paintings,
and hieroglyphic writings in tombs, but
scholars have not been able to determine
whether there is any notated music.
The Bible describes religious musical practices
in ancient Israel.

Ancient Egyptian Tomb Songs


Music notation has been found in ancient
Egyptian tomb art and papyrus fragments.

Ancient Greece
Greek civilization encompassed a wide area,
including much of Asia Minor, southern Italy,
and colonies ringing the Mediterranean and
Black Seas.

F01-06

Ancient Greece (contd)


Greece is the earliest civilization to leave
enough evidence to construct a well-rounded
view of musical culture.
Evidence can be found in numerous images, a
few surviving instruments, writings, and over
forty examples of music in a notation that we
can read.

Greek Instruments and Their Uses


Evidence of Greek instruments survives in
writings, archaeological remains, and hundreds
of images on pots.
The aulos
A reed instrument
The body consisted of two pipes with fingerholes.
Images show the two pipes being fingered the
same, but they could produce octaves, parallel
fifths or fourths, or a drone as well as unisons.

Greek Instruments and Their Uses


(contd)
The aulos (contd)
The aulos was used in the worship of Dionysus.
Dionysus was the god of fertility and wine, hence the
drinking scene in Figure 1.7.
The aulos accompanied or alternated with choruses in
the great tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and
Euripides that were written for Dionysian festivals.

F01-07

Greek Instruments and Their Uses


(contd)
The lyre
There were several types, but they usually had
seven strings and would be strummed with a
plectrum, or pick.
The player held the instrument in front, supporting
it on the hip and from a strap around the left wrist.
Both hands were free to touch the strings.
The right hand strummed the strings.
The fingers of the left hand touched the strings, perhaps
to dampen them or to create harmonics.

Greek Instruments and Their Uses


(contd)
The lyre (contd)
The lyre was associated with Apollo, god of light,
prophecy, learning, and the arts (especially music
and poetry).
Both men and women played the lyre.
Learning to play the lyre was a core element of
education in Athens.
The lyre was used to accompany dancing, singing,
weddings, and the recitation of epic poetry such as
Homers Iliad and Odyssey.
The lyre was also played for recreation.

F01-08

F01-08

Greek Instruments and Their Uses


(contd)
The kithara
A large lyre played standing up
Used in processions, sacred ceremonies, and in the
theater

Other instruments include, harps, panpipes,


horns, an early form of organ, and a variety of
percussion.

F01-09

Greek Instruments and Their Uses


(contd)
Performance practices
Despite having a well-developed form of notation,
musicians primarily learned music by ear, played
by memory, and improvised using formulas.
By the sixth century b.c.e. or earlier, aulos and
kithara were played as solo instruments.

Greek Instruments and Their Uses


(contd)
Performance practices (contd)
Contests and music festivals became popular after
the fifth century b.c.e.
Accounts of musical competitions describe
performances for aulos.
Figure 1.9 comes from a jar (amphora) awarded as a
prize in a contest.

Famous artists performed for large crowds, gave


concert tours, and demanded high fees from
wealthy patrons.

Greek Instruments and Their Uses


(contd)
Performance practices (contd)
Women were excluded from competition but could
perform recitals, often to critical acclaim.
Other than the virtuoso soloists, the majority of
professional performers were slaves or servants.

Greek Musical Thought


We know about Greek thought through two
kinds of writings:
Philosophical doctrines that describe the nature of
music, its effects, and its proper uses
Systematic descriptions of the materials of music
(music theory)

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


The most influential writings on the uses and
effects of music are:
Republic and Timaeus by Plato (ca. 429347
b.c.e.)
Politics by Aristotle (384322 b.c.e.)

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Greek music theory evolved continuously
during the time between two figures:
Pythagoras (d. ca. 500 b.c.e.), the founder of Greek
music theory
Aristides Quintilianus (fourth century c.e.), the last
important writer

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Music in Greek mythology
Gods and demigods were musical practitioners.
The word music (from mousik) comes from the
Muses.

Music and poetry


Music as a performing art was called melos (the
root of the word melody).

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Music and poetry (contd)
Music was monophonic, consisting of one melodic
line.
Instruments may have embellished the melody
while a soloist or chorus sang the original version,
creating heterophony, or played an independent
part, creating polyphony.

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Music and poetry (contd)
Music and poetry were nearly synonymous.
There was no word for artful speech without music.
Lyric poetry meant poetry sung to the lyre.
Tragedy incorporates a noun meaning the art of
singing.
Many Greek words for poetic types are musical terms
e.g., hymn.

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Music and number
Pythagoras and his followers recognized the
numerical relationships that underlay musical
intervalse.g., 2:1 results in an octave, 3:2 a fifth,
and 4:3 a fourth.
Harmonia was the concept of the unification of
parts in an orderly whole.

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Music and number (contd)
Harmonia (contd)
The term applied to the order of the universe.
Music was allied to astronomy through the notion of
harmonia.
Mathematical laws were the underpinnings of musical
intervals and the movements of heavenly bodies alike.
From Platos time until the beginning of modern
astronomy, philosophers believed in a harmony of the
spheres, unheard music created by the movement of
planets and other heavenly bodies.

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Music and ethos
Greek writers believed that music could affect
ethos, ones ethical character.
Musics mathematical laws permeated the visible and
invisible world, including the human soul.
The parts of the human soul could be restored to a
healthy balance (harmony) by the correct type of music.

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Music and ethos (contd)
Aristotles Politics
Sets out a theory of how music affects behavior
Mixolydian, Dorian, and Phrygian melodies each had
specific effects on the listener.
The concept of specific modes probably encompassed
melodic turns, style, and rhythms.

Music in education
Plato and Aristotle believed that education should
stress gymnastics (to discipline the body) and
music (to discipline the mind).

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Music in education (contd)
Platos Republic and Laws
Urges a balance between gymnastics and music
Argues that only certain types of music are suitable
The Dorian and Phrygian harmoniai fostered the virtues
of temperance and courage.
Music should not have complex scales or mixed genres,
rhythms, or instruments.
Changes in musical conventions could lead to
lawlessness in art and anarchy in society.

Greek Musical Thought (contd)


Music in education (contd)
Aristotles Politics
Aristotles uses for music are less restrictive than
Platos.
Music could be used for enjoyment as well as education.
Music and drama can purge negative emotions.
He discourages sons of free citizens from professional
training or from aspiring to virtuosity.