Are there records of ancient Greek battle compositions?

Jul 2014
654
Messinia
#1
In the book 'On Sparta' written by Plutarch & translated by Richard Talbert, he mentions a song played by the Spartan pipers before battle named 'Castor's Air' in which the Spartans marched in step to the pipes. Are there any records of ancient Greek battle compositions such as this?
 
Mar 2018
736
UK
#2
I'm no expert, but I think it's highly unlikely. Basically no pre-medieval music exists, because there was (AFAIK) method for writing it down! So records can not, virtually by definition, exist. Music was taught by oral tradition, and that has mostly been lost. Gregorian chants are more-or-less the oldest known pieces of music. From surviving archaeological finds it's possible to guess what sounds instruments were capable of music, but not much more than that.

Of course, if anyone here knows more and can prove me wrong, I'd be delighted to know.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,592
#3
I'm no expert, but I think it's highly unlikely. Basically no pre-medieval music exists, because there was (AFAIK) method for writing it down! So records can not, virtually by definition, exist. Music was taught by oral tradition, and that has mostly been lost. Gregorian chants are more-or-less the oldest known pieces of music. From surviving archaeological finds it's possible to guess what sounds instruments were capable of music, but not much more than that.

Of course, if anyone here knows more and can prove me wrong, I'd be delighted to know.
While there aren't any surviving marching tunes from antiquity, there are a couple ancient songs that have survived.

But for the title of oldest extant song, most historians point to “Hurrian Hymn No. 6,” an ode to the goddess Nikkal that was composed in cuneiform by the ancient Hurrians sometime around the 14th century B.C. The clay tablets containing the tune were excavated in the 1950s from the ruins of the city of Ugarit in Syria. Along with a near-complete set of musical notations, they also include specific instructions for how to play the song on a type of nine-stringed lyre.

“Hurrian Hymn No. 6” is considered the world’s earliest melody, but the oldest musical composition to have survived in its entirety is a first century A.D. Greek tune known as the “Seikilos Epitaph.” The song was found engraved on an ancient marble column used to mark a woman’s gravesite in Turkey. “I am a tombstone, an image,” reads an inscription. “Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance.” The column also includes musical notation as well as a short set of lyrics that read: “While you live, shine / Have no grief at all / Life exists only for a short while / And time demands its toll.”


The well-preserved inscriptions on Seikilos Epitaph have allowed modern musicians and scholars to recreate its plaintive melodies note-for-note. Dr. David Creese of the University of Newcastle performed it using an eight-stringed instrument played with a mallet, and ancient music researcher Michael Levy has recorded a version strummed on a lyre. There have also been several attempts to decode and play “Hurrian Hymn No. 6,” but because of difficulties in translating its ancient tablets, there is no definitive version. One of the most popular interpretations came in 2009, when Syrian composer Malek Jandali performed the ancient hymn with a full orchestra
https://www.history.com/news/what-is-the-oldest-known-piece-of-music


 
Oct 2013
6,347
Planet Nine, Oregon
#4
I'm no expert, but I think it's highly unlikely. Basically no pre-medieval music exists, because there was (AFAIK) method for writing it down! So records can not, virtually by definition, exist. Music was taught by oral tradition, and that has mostly been lost. Gregorian chants are more-or-less the oldest known pieces of music. From surviving archaeological finds it's possible to guess what sounds instruments were capable of music, but not much more than that.

Of course, if anyone here knows more and can prove me wrong, I'd be delighted to know.
Egyptian Music Notation | History of Music Theory
 

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