The Little Vulgar Book of Mechanics (v0.16.0) - Music I - History I

Last updated: April 24th 2022

Just added this section to the book: Music I - History I

Music I - History I #

"Music directly represents the passions of the soul. If one listens to the wrong kind of music, he will become the wrong kind of person." — ARISTOTLE (384–322 BC)

"Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything" – PLATO (428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC)

The Ancient Greeks were absolute masters of music.

In their mythology, music was invented and practiced by gods and demigods such as Apollo, Hermes, Amphion, and Orpheus, and the word music (Greek mousikē) comes from the word for the Muses, and denoted the arts associated to them, from history to dance. Music in Ancient Greece was an both art to be enjoyed, and a science closely related to arithmetic and astronomy.

Which is a good thing, since that's exactly the way I view music: Art and science. And engineering.

Music was everywhere in Ancient Greece. Work, military, school, ceremonies, theater, etc. And definitely theorized about it too. We know that at least Plato and Aristotle wrote about the nature and effects of music, And there's of course also the the music-theoretical work of Pythagoras (500 BC) all the way to Aristides Quintilianus (fourth century, AD).

From writings and archaeological findings, we know they had many instruments too. Harps, panpipes, horns, proto-organs, and a variety of percussion instruments, including drums and cymbals. Wouldn't surprise me if archaeologists found some sick double kick drums! \m/ In any case, it's believed that the most important, or most popular instruments were the aulos, lyra, and kithara.

There's no record of them ever forming large orchestras, though. But who's to say they never did? They certainly had the instruments and the number of musicians. For example, we know music competitions were held, and prizes (such as vases amphoras with wine or oil) were awarded to the top musical virtuosos. So these were people who dedicated themselves to the craft.

Speaking of performers, as a performing art, music was called melos, from which we get the word melody.

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