Poetry News

Putting the Lyre Back in Lyric

By Harriet Staff


We all know that ancient Greek poetry was accompanied by music played on the lyre, but we haven't really known what those tunes sounded like. Until now! The Daily Mail reports that scholars have meticulous reconstructed the music of ancient Greece by using textual clues and by examining pictures of musical instruments. As the DM reports:

‘There is no question that we can reconstruct what this fascinating music sounded like,’ Dr Armand D'Angour, a musician and tutor in classics at Oxford University, told MailOnline.

‘We have been left with clear instructions, thousands of years old, about how to create instruments used to play the music with mathematical precision.’

The result, according to Dr D'Angour, is ‘something quite magical’ which may sound odd to our ears, but was hugely popular with audiences at the time.

To reconstruct the music, Dr D'Angour and his team put together existing clues about the tunes, rhythms and the instruments of the time.

The rhythms, for instance, are preserved in the patterns of long and short syllables in the words of the texts themselves.

The instruments used – such as lyre and reed-pipes - are known from, paintings and archaeological remains.

Make the jump to read more about how the music was reconstructed and composed. But before that, take a listen here.

Originally Published: October 29th, 2013