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222Re: [Authentic_SCA] Vocal music and Languages

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  • Ariane Helou
    Mar 7, 2001
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      Brighid wrote:
      >We just got done with Homer's Illiad in my Classics class too. (I'm not a
      >classics major though, I'm an Industrial Design Major that invades
      >everyone else's classes.) It begins the poem with "Sing, goddess, the
      >anger of Peleus's son Achilleus", but that could be just an invocation of
      >the Muse, or a translational change. I'm pretty sure it doesn't have
      >problems changing "sing" from Greek to English though, but I'm not a
      >linguist. In the Introduction section of my Illiad (by Richmond
      >Lattimore), it is said that it is meant to be orally presented. Whether
      >that's recited, sung, and whether that's to music is not really stated. My
      >classics prof (a Dr.), had said that it should be recited with harp music,
      >but admittedly I was really tired that class and I can't tell you her
      >explanation. I'll ask her tonight and let you know.

      Got it ;) my Greek prof gave us numerous lectures on the practice of
      "singing" the Homeric poems. The opening of the Iliad, in rough
      Menin aeide, thea, Peleiadeo Achileos
      And literally means:
      Sing of the destructive wrath, goddess, of Achilles son of Peleus...
      And the word "aeide" literally means "sing." The word "ennepe" is used
      instead in the first line of Odyssey, but though it means "tell," "speak,"
      or "narrate," poets often translate it as "sing" because it sounds more
      poetic. But the Greek epics were certainly sung, probably with a lyre
      accompaniment, often by highly-trained performers. (Roman poetry, even
      epic, was usually recited, except for hymns which were typically set to
      music and performed by a chorus.) Sorry for the digression, but what can I
      say, I'm a nerd...
      But what I was asking was not about the performance techniques of
      antiquity, but whether amateur musicians during the Renaissance might have
      tried to mimic an idealized version of epic song - setting bits of Homer to
      music in the way they imagined the ancients might have done it. I do
      suspect this is true, but I was wondering whether anyone could support
      that. Perhaps some of the music has even survived...?
      On the other hand, it might be fun to contrive a melody based on Greek
      music. (Moshe once invented a melody for reciting a portion of Beowulf -
      it was awesome. He also has a CD of reconstructed ancient Greek music
      which I am *sure* he will let me borrow, right?).
      Bob the musicologist, where can I find information on Greek modes? Will
      any music theory text have them? I vaguely remember names like Lydian,
      Phrygian, and Mixolydian being thrown about in my high school music history
      class - are they indeed the same scales the Greeks used, and weren't they
      carried through to the Middle Ages? When did the "modern" major and minor
      scales come into use? I'd love some information, or the title of a good
      book where I could find it - our music library is very well-stocked.

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