RE: [gothic-l] Gothic music...no, not that kind
- Keep me informed of this music being worked on. I'd love to hear some
samples if possible!
From: sunburst [mailto:sunburst@...]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2000 9:05 AM
Subject: Re: [gothic-l] Gothic music...no, not that kind
I have come across only a painfully small amount of information concerning
music of the Goths. But we can deduce some information from what exists.
"Thereupon those priests of the Goths that are called the Holy Men suddenly
the gates of Odessus and came forth to meet them. They bore harps and were
snowy robes, and chanted in suppliant strains to the gods of their fathers
might be propitious and repel the Macedonians. When the Macedonians saw them
coming with such confidence to meet them, they were astonished and, so to
the armed were terrified by the unarmed. Straightway they broke the line
formed for battle and not only refrained from destroying the city, but even
those whom they had captured outside by right of war. Then they made a truce
returned to their own country."
Though how much this means to one will no doubt depend on whether one
identifies the Goths with the Getae. Jordanes also writes:
"In earliest times they sang of the deeds of their ancestors in strains of
accompanied by the cithara; chanting of Eterpamara, Hanala, Fritigern,
others whose fame among them is great; such heroes as admiring antiquity
proclaims its own to be."
I think we are on firmer ground here, as known Gothic heroes are mentioned.
The cithara is a wooden lyre (OE hearpe), meaning that Jordanes is likely
refering to a Gothic form of Germanic lyre/harp, no doubt similar to the one
found in the Sutton Hoo grave in England, as well as a number of others.
Jordanes indicates here that the Goths had a poetic/historical tradtion that
we know was common to other Germanic peoples. This is substantiated by the
existence of the very material which makes up "the migration myth" in the
beginning of the Getica, which is obviously remnants of an old Gothic oral
Also, since in the Germanic world, histories and legends of great heroes
were passed on in song form, the fact that so many important Gothic
personalites such as Weyland and Ermanric and Gaut survived in the Edda and
in A-S poetry like Belwoulf, Widsith, Waldere and Deor, also indicates the
Goths had an oral tradiditon. After all, the Norse and the English had to
have learned these stories from somewhere, and song was the medium.
Being a Germanic people with a poetic tradition then, it is very likely that
the Goths made use of Germanic Alliterate Verse or some variation of it, to
formulate their words. These poetic forms show a great continuity over a
very long period of time. It is possible the form preserved with the
Anglo-Saxons was also used by the Goths, and it is also possible that the
Old Norse forms were used (or perhaps originating with?) the Goths. It is
equally possible that the Goths used a form that is now lost to us.
Currently I'm still trying to dig myself out from under a backlog of work,
but producing and recording my reconstruction of Gothic music is high on the