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Ancient Music - Fragment 3

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Uploaded on Jul 27, 2011

Ancient Sumerians/Egyptians/Greeks -- a reconstruction of the few fragments of actual music that survived the ancient world, played on period instruments.
Ancient music is music that developed in literate cultures, replacing prehistoric music. Ancient music refers to the various musical systems that were developed across various geographical regions such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, India, China, Greece and Rome. Ancient music is designated by the characterization of the basic audible tones and scales. It may have been transmitted through oral or written systems.
Among the Hurrian texts from Ugarit are some of the oldest known instances of written music, dating from c.1400 BC. A reconstructed hymn is replayed at the Urkesh webpage. Kilmer's tentative decipherment of the cuneiform tablets from Ugarit indicate that the simultaneous sounding of different pitches may have been practiced very early, perhaps by 2000 BCE.
Ancient Greek musicians developed their own robust system of musical notation. The system was not widely used among Greek musicians, but nonetheless a modest corpus of notated music remains from Ancient Greece and Rome. The epics of Homer were originally sung with instrumental accompaniment, but no notated melodies from Homer are known. Several complete songs exist in ancient Greek musical notation. The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest surviving complete musical composition from the Greek tradition or from any tradition. Three complete hymns by Mesomedes of Crete (2nd century CE) exist in manuscript. In addition, many fragments of Greek music are extant, including fragments from tragedy, among them a choral song by Euripides for his Orestes and an instrumental intermezzo from Sophocles' Ajax. Romans did not have their own system of musical notation, but a few Romans apparently learned the Greek system. A line from Terence's Hecyra was set to music and possibly notated by his composer Flaccus.[citation needed]
It has always been known that some ancient music was not strictly monophonic.[citation needed] Some fragments of Greek music, such as the Orestes fragment, clearly call for more than one note to be sounded at the same time. Greek sources occasionally refer to the technique of playing more than one note at the same time. In addition, double pipes, such as used by the Greeks and Persians, and ancient bagpipes, as well as a review of ancient drawings on vases and walls, etc., and ancient writings (such as in Aristotle, Problems, Book XIX.12) which described musical techniques of the time, all indicate harmony existed. One pipe in the aulos pairs (double flutes) may have served as a drone or "keynote," while the other played melodic passages.
Although music existed in prehistoric Egypt, the evidence for it becomes secure only in the historical (or "dynastic" or "pharaonic") period--after 3100 BCE. Music formed an important part of Egyptian life, and musicians occupied a variety of positions in Egyptian society. Music found its way into many contexts in Egypt: temples, palaces, workshops, farms, battlefields and the tomb. Music was an integral part of religious worship in ancient Egypt, so it is not surprising that there were gods specifically associated with music, such as Hathor and Bes (both were also associated with dance, fertility and childbirth).

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