Discuss the role of music in ancient Greek society, concentrating on public religious festivals, music in the theater, and private festivals. Greek life was infused with music. Music and dance were seen as part of a satisfying and good life…
It was usually a part of mourning also, except in cases, such as, when Admetus while mourning his wife, ordered that “neither lyre nor pipe is to be heard in the town for twelve months." (West 14). Often religious festivals or ceremonies would begin with a procession with music, such as chorale accompanied by the pipes and/or the lyre. The people might be dancing or have dancers with them. Processionals are thought to be the oldest form of Greek music. It is believed that the earliest recorded occasion was a procession from Messina to sacrifice on Delos (West 15). Every part of Greek life had some kind of music that was traditionally used. Following is a description of the most well known types: Hymns were sung by a chorus to the gods, except Apollo and Dionysus, which had their own special songs, the paean, a song of joy, and the dithyramb, a choral song of prayer or supplication. The Dithyramb eventually became secularized and metamorphosed into the drama form tragedy. The Hyporcheme was a song and a dance. The Prosodion was used for processionals to altars and temples at the beginning and ending of festivals. Enkomion was a song of praise for men, as was the Epinikion used to honor the winner of athletic competition. A Skolion was sung by guests at a banquet. An Erotikon was an erotic song or poem for gods and goddesses and also men and women. The Hymenaios was used for weddings during the processional, at the banquet and in front of the bridal suite. The Threnos was a funeral dirge, sung by a chorus solemnly in either very low or very high pitch. Maidens would sing a Partheneion . Many of these have echoes in current church and classical music ("Lyric Genres.").
2. Describe the evolution of notation from the concept of neumes to the development of the staff and the idea of nota. Music likely dates back to the earliest civilizations, even hunter gatherer populations , but it was not until the Greeks created a form of musical notation that we have any records of written musical notation. There is a piece of music carved on a tombstone called the Seikilos Epitaph, found in Turkey, and may be from the 1st century AD. This is evidence that ancient Greeks used music notation since the 3rd or 4th centuries BC. Boethius (c.AD 470–AD 525) applied the first 15 letters of the alphabet to the notes in use at the end of the Roman period in the five textbooks he wrote on ancient music while in prison. A system called neumes, using Greek language symbols, was used in about the 6th century AD to record the Gregorian chants. This system only reminded a singer or musician of the “shape “ of a memorized song. It was not until the tenth century that Heightened Neumes were arranged above and below a line to indicate rising and falling pitch. In the twelfth century, Guido D’Arezzo placed letters on lines to indicate pitch. The staves developed over the next four centuries with different numbers of lines, but in the sixteenth century the five line staff became standard. Early music was all written down by the church and aristocracy, as paper and quills were expensive and most people could not read words either ("History of Music Notation - evolution, printing, specialisation and computers."). There was no system for tempo and measure until about the seventeenth century. It was not until the legitimization of polyphonic music, forbidden at first by Pope John XXII in 1322 (See Appendix A for his writings.), that other parts of our modern notation developed to fulfil its needs ("Polyphony Is ...
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