Posted in design and architecture, museum, music

Listen to 2,500-year-old music brought back to life

Photograph of the original stone at Delphi con...
Photograph of the original stone at Delphi containing the second of the two hymns to Apollo. The music notation is the line of occasional symbols above the main, uninterrupted line of Greek lettering (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s old music, and then there’s oooollldd music. 2,500 years old.

Music scholars are recreating ancient Greek songs that haven’t been heard for thousands of years. The results aren’t very inspiring, but we’re finally getting a sense of what the ancients were listening to.

Recreating music is a daunting task for historians and musicologists, especially considering that formal music notation wasn’t developed until much later.

Thankfully, these researchers have some clues to go by. And this is precisely what Oxford musician and classics expert Armand D’Angour has been studying.In a recent BBC article written by D’Angour, he points out that the epics of Homer, the love-poems of Sappho, and the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripdes were all originally sung to music performed on the lyre, reed-pipes, and various percussion instruments.

“The rhythms – perhaps the most important aspect of music – are preserved in the words themselves, in the patterns of long and short syllables.”

via Listen to 2,500-year-old music brought back to life.


Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.