GMK 1000: Elementary Modern Greek
Professor Themis Aravossitas
Wednesday, April 15th 2015
What is Greece?: Significance of Music within the Ancient Greek Culture
What is Greece? This questions can be answered in a variety of areas. The history of music in Greece plays a significant role in the history of the country. Because music played a integral role in the daily lives of the Ancient Greek citizens, it is evident that music has played a role in shaping the culture into what it is today. We live in a society where we are completely devoted and immersed in music. Whether it be a simple tune we hear on a radio or the ...view middle of the document...
Music was such an integral part of the artistic life in Greece, that is was only natural to have resulted in a tremendous amount of importance throughout history.
The history of Greek music began with its origins in Ancient Greece, where music was an integral part of daily life. Mousiki (“μουσική”), greek term for ‘music’, covered not only music but also dance, literature, and the performance of poetry. Music played a central role to the many activities through Greek life, including religious festivals, banquet gatherings, and added source of entertainment; it was also the object of scientific and philosophical inquiry. Although we have little knowledge of what ancient Greek music sounded like, there are fragments of musical scores, literary references, and the remains of musical instruments that allow us to distinguish a distinct sound. The Greeks believed that music had a beneficial effect on the mind and the body. Music was a unifying element in Ancient Greek culture. Citizens from different social backgrounds practiced music, including soldiers, members of the working class, aristocrats, and the heroes and gods of mythology.
Greek music in ancient times was mainly monophonic, with little harmony or counterpoint. Monophonic is a musical term used to describe a piece of music with a single “part”, or vocal melody, with a solo instrumental accompaniment. Greek musicians were known as the ‘makers of songs’, or melopoioi; creators of melos, which is described as being a composition of words, tune, and rhythm. Many of the performances were performed in heterophony - a type of musical texture from simultaneous performances of melodic variated in the same tune. Instruments embellished the melody while vocalists sang their part. Many pieces of music, with an elaborate melody and various marked rhythms, were intimately linked to the sound and imagery of greek poetry. Lyric poetry was very important to the Greeks. For the Greeks, it was the earliest attempt to express personal emotion; a personal comment on life. Instrumental music and the singing of hymns, regularly accompanied activities within daily life and formal acts of worship. Often music and dancing would accompany processions in the cities streets on special religious occasions, usually honoring the gods.
For the ancient Greeks, music was viewed as a gift from the gods. In ancient Greek mythology, it was believed that human creativity, was a result of divine inspiration from the muses; a group of goddesses. It was believed that each muse was responsible for a specific area , including history, poetry, song, hymns, dance, etc.; the ‘hallmarks of civilization’. The well educated citizen was expected to be proficient in all areas of creative thought. Different instruments were attributed to a particular deities, for example, Hermes the lyre (harp-like instrument), Pan the syrinx (panpipes), and Athena the aulos (flute). Greek mythology played a very important...