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Ancient Greek music
Despite the many recordings that have been made through the years, not much is actually known of the ancient Greek music. We do know a bit about the musical instruments that were used, mainly from vase paintings, and from some texts we have descriptions of song and dance.
Also, in some remote villages there are still songs and dances that have been preserved through time and tradition.
Music was a very important part of ancient life. At religious ceremonies and other festivities there were musicians and dancers, and the ancient plays had choirs. The ancient Greeks said that the dance was invented to honour the goddess Hera. The Nine Muses gave the gifts of music, dancing and singing to the humans. The muse Calliope gave Man the most precious instrument: the voice. Apollo was also connected with music, as well as Orpheus, Pan, Dionysos, Hermes and the Graces.
In ancient Greek education, music was also a main subject, along with reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic's and athletics etc. Singing was also used as a means of memorizing and telling odes like the Iliad and the Odyssey. Pythagoras was fascinated with harmony, and worked out a theory on the math's behind the tones used into modern times.
What must be a characteristic of the ancient music are the Lydian and Phrygian harmonies, influenced by the eastern civilizations to this very day, as well as the many half- and quarternotes.


Maenad with double flute. Vase painting, 410 BC.
Lyre made from turtle shell and horns.
Muse with kithara. Vase painting, 445 BC.
WebmistressV.E.K. Sandels