September 10 Readings/Class Notes - History
– Not enough evidence has been given of music from Greek & Roman times;
much more is known about classical theory & classical aesthetics of music.
– Greek contribution to Western attitudes is essential
– Music possessed ethos – power to influence the listener's emotions,
– Eg. Orpheus – very skilled; no one could resist his music singing, playing
harp, lyre – one time, he saved mariners from drowning by singing more
persuasively than the Sirens. Death by being torn to bits by the women of
Thrace, jealous of his lack of attention to them
– Hymen summoned by Orpheus to his wedding
– Invitation did not bring good luck – sad and did not sing, torch he carried
smoked, bringing tears to his eyes
– Outcome would be worse than foretold – while the bride was wandering in
the meadows with water nymphs, a serpent struck her to the ground, she
– Orpheus mourned her loss – his bride, Eurydice, died before she had a
chance to live – asks the non-humans to let him live with her in death
– Performs for the creatures of the underworld – a lament
– Ghosts in tears – overcome by Orpheus's singing – wept in sympathy,
allowed his wife to be with him
– Shows the potency of music
– Ethos – made music a powerful force for either good or evil in the view of
the Greeks. Platos was the most influential and dealt with this subject a lot.
Looked down of music being used for simply pleasure.
– Second-rate, commonplace people hired female musicians to make music
and be entertained by what they had to say, listened to music at parties
because they were uneducated and therefore did not have the skills to be
musicians and entertain themselves by talking.
– Plato had an idealized Golden Age of Greece which influenced his thinking
– Music was simple and customs ruled, and Plato knew music had better days
– Music formerly divided into several types and patterns.
– Hymns – prayers to the gods; contrasting kind – lament; paeans, and
dithyramb – a dealing.
– Not allowed to misuse one melody and mistaken it for another – discipline
involved if this happened.
– Group of men who were intelligent but were ignorant of what was 'right' and
'true' regarding the different types of song – contaminated hymns with
laments, imitated sounds of the flute on harp – overall, confused different
– Assumed that there is no right and wrong in music – it is up to the listener to judge
– They started the inspiration to create
– went from “sovereignty of the best” to “sovereignty of the audience,” fear
cast out by knowledge and contempt for the law
– Universal knowledge of music with the liberty to create
– Different modes: Mixolydian, Lydian, Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian
1. What does Orpheus myth tell us about the ancients think about music?
a. Orpheus – what did his music sound like? Lament,
Cristoph Willibald Gluck
Oh, take pity on me
Furies, spectres, angry sprits!
At least have pity
For my wrenching grief
Orpheo ed Euridice -
Orpheus – Very simple – harp arpeggios, lyre, high, highly