Oldest Known Complete Piece of Music in History



Today I came across a fascinating little video from someone on Youtube. Apparently, the individual is playing a lyre, which was most likely what the song was written on. However, this is a little peek into what all the cool kids were listening to back in the day. First, here is a a little background on the Song of Seikilos.

The song of Seikilos is one of the few preserved compositions of ancient Greek music. It is engraved into a grave pillar that was found 1883in Aydin in Turkey and is dated between 200 BC and 100 AD.
On the tombstone is an indication that the music composition and poem were composed and written by one Seikilos, for his wife, who
presumably is buried there. The opening epitaph states:
I am a portrait in stone.
 I was put here by Seikilos, 
 where I remain forever, the
 symbol of timeless remembrance.
The find has been dated variously from around 200 BC to around AD 100.While older western music with notation exists (for example the 
Delphic Hymns), all of it is in fragments; the Seikilos epitaph is 
unique in that it is a complete, though short, composition. 

Here is the poster’s excerpt on the Song of Seikilos.

This video features my arrangement for solo lyre, of "The Song of Seikilos"- unique in musical history, as it is the only piece of music from antiquity in the entire Western world, that has SO far been found, which has survived in its COMPLETE form, and unlike much earlier surviving fragments of melodies that have been found, this song is written in a totally unambiguous ALPHABETICAL musical notation, which can be played, note for note, as it was written...2000 YEARS AGO!

This melody is an amazing musical legacy from ancient Greece; a precious remnant of a long-forgotten musical culture now forever lost in the mists of time...

In this version, I have tried to utilize EVERY conceivable lyre-playing technique I could think of, which may have also been used in Antiquity! This is also a far more lively rendition - I have recently learnt that "The Song of Sekilos" is, in fact a DRINKING SONG!(What a GREAT idea of the ancient Greeks to put a drinking song on a TOMBSTONE - I want one to be on MINE!!).

Although much older music has been found (& which I have had a go at recreating on some of my other Youtube uploads), all that remains are either just pitiful fragments of the melodies, or the way the melodies have been notated in ancient times have SO many modern interpretations that the actual melody is still mostly academic guess work.

About 2000 years after it was written, this melody was rediscovered in 1883, in its complete & original form. It was found inscribed in marble on an ancient Greek burial stele, bearing the following epitaph: "I am a portrait in stone. I was put here by Seikilos, where I remain forever, the symbol of timeless remembrance".

The words of the song are:

"Hoson zes, phainou 
Meden holos su lupou; 
Pros oligon esti to zen 
To telos ho chronos apaitei" 
(While you live, shine 
Don't suffer anything at all; 
Life exists only a short while 
And time demands its toll) 


Pretty interesting, huh?

Till next time…

David (CaliDingo)



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