History of Ancient Greek Music

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From 700 BC to 200 AD was the time of ancient Greek music. The music was both secular and sacred as music was central to religion and ceremonies as to social rituals like weddings, funerals, banquets, etc. Musicians, poets, musicologists, and philosophers of that time like Olympus, Philotas, Damon, and Aristoxenus and Pythagoras (respectively) all played an important roll in developing the music that we have today. Olympus is one of the more important names in ancient Greek music history as he has done a lot for it. The name Olympus, in fact, was given to 2 musicians, one mythical who lived before the Trojan War, and the other, real that lived in the 700’s BC. Real, and mythical Olympus connected by “auletic” music originated in Phrygia. The real Olympus was a musician from ancient Greece. Olympus’s musicality lied in his family tree dating back to more than 4 generations before him. The honor of being the “father of music” was assigned to him by Plutarch, the Greek biographer who wrote Parallel Lives (46?-120 AD.) The music of the flute, which had formerly been peculiar to Phrygia was said to be “naturalized,” or normalized by him. Olympus was also a great inventor of rhythm. Three of them being Ison, where the arsis and thesis are equal, displasion, where the arsis is twice the length of the thesis, and hemiolion, where the length of the arsis is equal to 2 short syllables and the thesis is equal to 3. However, there is doubt that the last form, hemiolion, was ever actually used by him. A dirge, or somber song expressing mourning of grief, was played by Olympus at the Delphi, on the flute and in Lydian style in honor of the slain Python, the earth-dragon of Delphi. Yet the greatest of Olympus’s inventions was that of a 3rd genus of music, the enharmonic. Another musician of the time of the ancient Greeks was Philotas. He was a disciple of Philoxenus, a dithyramb

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