Prehistoric Period

4000bc-700bc

-4000
Harps and Flutes played in Egypt.
-3500
Lyres and Double Clarinets played in Egypt.
-3000
The Chinese court musician cuts first bamboo pipe.
-2500
Chinese music moves to a five tone scale.
-2000
Percussion instruments added to Egyptian orchestral music.
-1500
Hittites use guitar, lyre, trumpet, tamborine to make music.
-1500
Harps used to accompany dances in Egypt.
-1000
Professional musicians provide background for religous ceremonies in Israel.
-800
Five-tone and seven-tone scales in Babylonian music.
-800
Earliest recorded music, a hymn on a tablet in Sumeria, written in cuneiform.
-800
In Greece, music is part of daily life; choral and dramatic music develops; intinerant musicians called Rhapsodes travel from city to city.
-700
New art forms for songs appear. Flute and lyre become popular as accompanying instruments.
-700
Seven-string lyre is introduced.
-700
Terpander writes for solo voice with instruments.
-700
Arion, Greek composer and poet, introduces strophe and antistrophe.

Terpander

Terpander (Greek: Τέρπανδρος Terpandros), of Antissa in Lesbos, was a Greek poet and citharede who lived about the first half of the 7th century BC. He was the father of Greek music, and through it of lyric poetry, although his own poetical compositions were few and in extremely simple rhythms. He simplified rules of the modes of singing of other neighboring countries and islands, and formed, out of these syncopated variants, a conceptual system. Though endowed with an inventive mind, and the commencer of a new era of music, he attempted no more than to systematize the musical styles which existed in the music of Greece and Anatolia.

About the time of the Second Messenian War, he settled in Sparta, whither, according to some accounts, he had been summoned by command of the Delphic Oracle, to compose the differences which had arisen between different classes in the state. Here he gained the prize in the musical contests at the festival of Carnea.

He is regarded as the real founder of Greek classical music, and of lyric poetry; but as to his innovations in music our information is imperfect. According to Strabo he increased the number of strings in the lyre from four to seven; others take the fragment of Terpander on which Strabo bases his statement to mean that he developed the citharoedic nomos (sung to the accompaniment of the cithara or lyre) by making the divisions of the ode seven instead of four. The seven-stringed lyre was probably already in existence. Terpander is also said to have introduced several new rhythms in addition to the dactylic, and to have been famous as a composer of drinking-songs (skolia).

No poems attributed to Terpander survive complete, and very few lines of his are quoted by later Greek writers; it must be regarded as doubtful whether he worked in writing.

Terpander is said to have died, around Skiades ("shady place" of the Carneia), by choking on a fig when the fruit was thrown in appreciation of one of his performances.

Arion

Arion was a kitharode in ancient Greece, a Dionysiac poet credited with inventing the dithyramb: "As a literary composition for chorus dithyramb was the creation of Arion of Corinth," The islanders of Lesbos claimed him as their native son, but Arion found a patron in Periander, tyrant of Corinth. Although notable for his musical inventions, Arion is chiefly remembered for the fantastic myth of his kidnapping by pirates and miraculous rescue by dolphins, a folktale motif. Herodotus (1,23) says "Arion was second to none of the lyre-players in his time and was also the first man we know of to compose and name the dithyramb and teach it in Corinth". However J.H. Sleeman observes of the dithyramb, or circular chorus, "It is first mentioned by Archilochus (c 665 BC)… Arion flourished at least 50 years later… probably gave it a more artistic form, adding a chorus of 50 people, personating satyrs… who danced around an altar of Dionysus. He was doubtless the first to introduce the dithyramb into Corinth".

Arion is also associated with the origins of tragedy: of Solon John the Deacon reports: “Arion of Methymna first introduced the drama [i.e. action] of tragedy, as Solon indicated in his poem entitled Elegies". 





Kidnapping by pirates


According to Herodotus' account of the Lydian empire under the Mermnads, Arion attended a musical competition in Sicily, which he won. On his return trip from Tarentum, avaricious sailors plotted to kill Arion and steal the rich prizes he carried home. Arion was given the choice of suicide with a proper burial on land, or being thrown in the sea to perish. Neither prospect appealed to Arion: as Robin Lane Fox observes, "No Greek would swim out into the deep from a boat for pleasure." He asked for permission to sing a last song to win time.

Playing his kithara, Arion sang a praise to Apollo, the god of poetry, and his song attracted a number of dolphins around the ship. At the end of the song, Arion threw himself into the sea rather than be killed, but one of the dolphins saved his life and carried him to safety at the sanctuary of Poseidon at Cape Tainaron. When he reached land, being eager for his journey, he failed to return the dolphin to the sea and it perished there. He told his misfortunes to Periander, the Tyrant of Corinth, who ordered the dolphin to be buried, and monument raised to it. Shortly after, word came to Periander that the ship in which Arion had sailed had been brought to Corinth by a storm. He ordered the crew to be led before him, and inquired about Arion, but they replied that he had died and that they had buried him. The tyrant replied: "Tomorrow you will swear to that at the Dolphin's Monument." Because of this he ordered them to be kept under guard, and instructed Arion to hide in the monument of the dolphin the next morning, attired as he was when he threw himself into the sea. 

Arion on a sea horse, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1855)

 
 

Tomba dei Leopardi: scena di banchetto con coppiere e due suonatori, Pittura murale,
500 ca, Necropoli (Tarquinia)

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