Cover image for Music in ancient Greece and Rome
Music in ancient Greece and Rome
Landels, John G. (John Gray), 1926-
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Routledge, 1999.
Physical Description:
xii, 296 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1450 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library ML169 .L24 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This volume presents an introduction to the study of music from Homeric times to the Roman emperor Trajan. Chapters include: an exploration of the contexts in which music played a role, including genres of poetry regarded as musical by the ancient Greeks; a discussion of instruments, including the aulos, the kithara and the lyre; an analysis of scales, intervals and tuning, incorporating a discussion on the evidence for scales and the concepts of species and key; an examination of the principal types of rhythm used in the musical sections in various literary genres; and an exploration of Greek theories of harmony and acoustics, from the famous Pythagorean discovery and an account of the De Audibilibus, commonly attributed to Aristotle.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Only someone whose scholarly life is immersed in the ancient world could author such an encompassing study of the context for the performance of music at religious ceremonies, athletic and dramatic events, and symposia. Landels provides an excellent introduction to complexities of Greek theory with his discussion of the kithara and aulos--the instruments representing the sacred (Apollonian) and secular (Dyonisian)--their scales and tuning based in the work of Aristotle's pupil Aristoxenos, the earliest authority on music theory; the author expands this discussion with material on Pythagorean physics. Analogous for prose and drama is Landels's chapter on words and rhythm, with examples that should be read aloud. Orpheus and Marsyas, players of strings and winds respectively, are the subjects of a chapter on music and myth. Chapters on southern Italy and Rome consider primarily acoustics and instruments. Surviving scores--"precious scraps," in Landels's words--are beautifully transcribed, some with Greek instrumental and melodic notation. Excellent line drawings accompany the witty writing and truly comprehensive coverage. M.L. West's Ancient Greek Music (CH, Oct'93) and Warren D. Anderson's Music and Musicians in Ancient Greece (CH, Sep'95) are also excellent sources for Greece, but only Landels takes the reader to Rome as well. For all academic and public libraries. J. P. Ambrose University of Vermont

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Music in Greek Life, Poetry and Dramap. 1
2(a): The Aulosp. 24
2(b): Kithara and Lyrep. 47
2(c): Other Instrumentsp. 69
3 Scales, Intervals and Tuningp. 86
4 Music, Words and Rhythmp. 110
5 Music and Acoustical Sciencep. 130
6 Music and Mythp. 148
7 The Years Between- Alexandria and Southern Italyp. 163
8 The Roman Musical Experiencep. 172
9 Notation and Pitchp. 206
10 Some Surviving Scoresp. 218
Appendix 1

p. 264

The Construction of the Water-Organ (hydraulis)p. 267
The Brauron Aulosp. 271
Notes and Suggested Readingp. 276
Indexp. 292

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