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Music in Classical Antiquity Roots of Western musical ideas — ca. 500 BCE – 500 CE.

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Presentation on theme: "Music in Classical Antiquity Roots of Western musical ideas — ca. 500 BCE – 500 CE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Music in Classical Antiquity Roots of Western musical ideas — ca. 500 BCE – 500 CE

2 “Golden Age” in fifth century BCE — Pericles, Acropolis Science – Pythagoras (ca. 500 BCE) — fundamentals of acoustics – Euclid (ca. 300 BCE) – studied mathematics of music Literature — included music – myth and epic — Homer (ca. 800 BCE) – tragedy — Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides (fifth century BCE) – comedy – Aristophanes Philosophy — includes consideration of place of music in life – Socrates (end of fifth century BCE) – Plato, Aristotle (fourth century BCE) Greece

3 Some uses of music in ancient Greece Song, narrative literature (Homer), drama (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides) Religious ritual — source of drama Competitions — Olympic competition

4 Philosophical principle: ethos — music affects character Applications – religion — cults of Apollo, Dionysus – education to virtue – politics Sources in style – instrumentation — kithara, aulos – rhythm – pitch relationships (Plato and Aristotle: harmonia, translated “mode”) named for geographic or ethnic entities both theoretical and aesthetic concept

5 Plato on music in the Republic The overseers must be watchful against its insensible corruption. They must throughout be watchful against innovations in music and gymnastics counter to the established order, and to the best of their power guard against them, fearing when anyone says that that song is most regarded among men “which hovers newest on the singer’s lips” [Odyssey i. 351], lest it be supposed that the poet means not new songs but a new way of song and is commending this. But we must not praise that sort of thing nor conceive it to be the poet’s meaning. For a change to a new type of music is something to beware of as a hazard of all our fortunes. For the modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling of the most fundamental political and social conventions. (Republic 424b–c)

6 Plato and the modes – We said we did not require dirges and lamentations in words. – We do not. – What, then, are the dirgelike modes of music? Tell me, for you are a musician. – The mixed Lydian, he said, and the tense or higher Lydian, and similar modes. – These, then, said I, we must do away with. But again, drunkenness is a thing most unbefitting guardians, and so is softness and sloth. – Yes. – What, then, are the soft and convivial modes? – There are certain Ionian and also Lydian modes that are called lax. – Will you make any use of them for warriors? – None at all, he said, but it would seem that you have left the Dorian and the Phrygian.

7 – I don’t know the musical modes, I said, but leave us the mode that would fittingly imitate the utterances and the accents of a brave man who is engaged in warfare or in any enforced business, and who, when he has failed, either meeting wounds or death or having fallen into some other mishap, in all these conditions confronts fortune with steadfast endurance and repels her strokes. And another for such a man engaged in works of peace, not enforced but voluntary, either trying to persuade somebody of something and imploring him — whether it be a god, through prayer, or a man, by teaching and admonition — or contrariwise yielding himself to another who is petitioning him or teaching him or trying to change his opinions, and in consequence faring according to his wish, and not bearing himself arrogantly, but in all this acting modestly and moderately and acquiescing in the outcome. Leave us these two modes — the enforced and the voluntary — that will best imitate the utterances of men failing or succeeding, the temperate, the brave — leave us these. – Well, said he, you are asking me to leave none other than those I just spoke of. (Republic 398d–399c)

8 Music in Roman antiquity Roman dominance from 146 BCE — Julius Caesar (d. 44 BCE) — to fall of empire in 476 CE Literature – Virgil (first century BCE) — poet, Aeneid – Terence (second century CE) — comedies adapted from Greek theater Science – Pliny the Elder (first century CE) — natural history – Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus, second century CE) — mathematics, astronomy, geography — included music theory

9 Music in Rome Adapted from Greece — tendency to virtuosity and professionalism Military applications — development of brass instruments Civic function — organ

10 Roman ideas about music education Martianus Capella (fifth century CE) — music in the seven liberal arts (preceding philosophy) Trivium — grammar, rhetoric, dialectic (logic) Quadrivium — arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy

11 Roman ideas about music education Boethius (ca CE), De institutione musica Musica speculativa rather than musica practica — musicus rather than cantor Threefold division of music – mundana — harmonious order of cosmos, nature – humana — harmony in human life – instrumentalis — harmonic relationships in audible manifestations

12 For discussion In what ways are discussions of the issues of ethos and music’s power for supporting or undermining moral values still current? How important is music in modern education? How has this changed since the periods of Plato and Aristotle, Capella, and Boethius? How has the understanding of the therapeutic value of music developed between the Greek philosophers’ discussion of the doctrine of ethos and today’s practice of music therapy?


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