Notes: Ancient Music
Notes: Ancient Music 
Music of the Spheres

Music of The Ancients & The Golden Record


Music and the Greeks

  • The music of ancient Greece was almost universally present in society, from marriages and funerals to religious ceremonies, theatre, folk music and the ballad-like reciting of epic poetry.
  • The word music comes from the Muses, the daughters of Zeus and patron goddesses of creative and intellectual endeavours.
  •  In ancient Greece music was a part of everyday life


Greek Civilization



  • First democracies
  • Valued Education
  • Used myths to explain the world around them.
  • Logic & Reason


  • Theater was the chosen form of entertainment
  • Comedies – People lived
  • Tragedies – People died
  • Plays were performed in outside theaters. 


Greek Music and Philosophy

  • Musica Universalis (lit. universal music, or music of the spheres) is an ancient concept that regards the movement of the planets and moons as a form of music. 
  • Thought that music could bring one closer to enlightenment


Greek Instruments


The Aulos

The principle woodwind of Classical antiquity is the aulos, consisting of a pair of cylindrical pipes with double reed mouthpieces.

Originally made of reed stems, wood, or bone, at the Hellenistic age it became a refined instrument with an ivory core covered by a delicate mechanism of bronze or silver sliders and turning sleeves, which enabled the player to control a considerable number of finger holes. While earlier instruments played simple scales within a constricted range, these expensive new professional auloi provided for modulation between different keys, and gave access to especially low notes as well as to a high register of shrill sound.


The Cithara

The cithara (kithára) is the wooden type of the Greek lyre, especially the large concert instruments.


How they Organized Music


  • The Greeks had rules for almost everything....they are the guys who gave us modern math after all.
  • Divided their music into 7 scales called modes.
  • These names are derived from Ancient Greek subgroups (Dorians), one small region in central Greece (Locris), and certain neighboring (non-Greek) peoples from Asia Minor (Lydia, Phrygia).




  • Mixolydian:
  • Lydian:
  • Phrygian:
  • Dorian:
  • Hypolydian:
  • Hypophrygian
  • Common, Locrian, or Hypodorian: