Eleonora Rocconi

in The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199286140
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History


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One area where it is particularly difficult to bridge the gap between text and performance is ancient music. This article notes that people today know very little about how ancient music sounded. It is much easier to relate ancient theories of music to other intellectual endeavours, such as the study of physics, mathematics, or ethics, than to investigate its connections with the work of practicing musicians. There is a paradox here, because ancient musical theories later inspired the development of musical forms on the part of performing artists. Modern opera, most famously, originated in an attempt at reconstructing ancient Greek music and drama. Greek musical theory laid the foundations for many aesthetic and theoretical speculations of later antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.

Keywords: ancient music; mathematics; Greek music; musical theory; modern opera

Article.  4463 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Greek History

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