Abstract detail

Title Recordings of Ancient Greek Music

The ancient Greeks could not record their music electronically, but they did invent a notation for writing it down. Numerous examples survive on stone or papyrus, though most are very fragmentary because of physical damage. Thanks to ancient treatises and other evidence, the melodies can be transcribed into modern musical notation. Despite difficulties of interpretation, ancient Greek music has been performed and recorded both in Greece and abroad, sometimes by famous singers such as Maria Farandouri and Nena Venetsanou. Recordings vary in the degree of priority they may give to filling in the gaps in the surviving musical fragments for the sake of an aesthetically satisfying interpretation. Replicas of ancient instruments have frequently been used, in various combinations. The resulting sound may reflect the arrangers’ convictions about, for example, the relation of ancient Greek music to Orthodox chant or to modern Greek folksong. A further approach is that of composers who have created works inspired by ancient Greek melodies without attempting to reproduce the ancient sound. We will present samples of various types on CDs from Greece, western Europe and Australia, discussing both their artistic qualities and their contribution to our understanding of ancient music.

Primary author
Alfred Vincent