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An Overview of Music Education in the Ancient World

A brief survey of the role of music teaching in the ancient world. The inclusion of music in societies and among peoples, as well as the culturally perceived value of music education is highlighted in the presentation.

Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and other geographic regions are examined based on the role of music learning and participation among the people. The presentation is punctuated with quotes by noted scholars and philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Boethius.

Material compiled by Dr. Brian Ebie.

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An Overview of Music Education in the Ancient World

  1. 1. Music Education in the Ancient World
  2. 2. Ancient Greece Greeks arrived to the Mediterranean area around 1000 B.C. From this culture emerged a musical system including other arts such as poetry and dance. Greek music was influenced by music from other cultures as well.
  3. 3. Hymns and Songs Unlike Sculpture and Architecture, not much Ancient Greek music has survived Some songs and Hymns have survived on paintings, Sculpture, vases, buildings, tombs and other artifacts. Hymns were songs of praise to Gods such as Apollo and Dionysus.
  4. 4. Fragments of Ancient Greek song www.classics.uc.edu/music/
  5. 5. Greek Music Theory Greek music theory, including ideas about pitch, became the basis for Western music theory. Almost entirely improvised Melody and Rhythm were linked to the sound and meter of Greek poetry. Disciplines of harmonics and pitch , and concepts of notes, intervals and scales were defined and explained by Greek writers.
  6. 6. Pythagoras Mathematician who found numerical relationships between pitches. Acoustical observations. Octaves Scientific aspects of music
  7. 7. Musical Empires
  8. 8. Sparta Warrior city Physical training was most important. Musical capitol of Ancient Greece in the seventh and sixth Centuries. Musical competitions reached a high artistic level. Music not used for Aesthetic value, but as accompaniment to war activities. Music helped to develop loyalty to the State.
  9. 9. Two Schools Beginning of seventh century. Vocal and instrumental solos End of seventh century and beginning of sixth century. Choral lyrics Well known poets and musicians
  10. 10. Ancient Greek Lyre Made of turtle shell and strings Similar to guitar sound Accompaniment to choirs and soloists
  11. 11. The Aulos
  12. 12. Athens Dominated in the end of sixth and beginning of fifth centuries. Less violent, more civilized lifestyle. “Music” came to mean “fine arts” including art, poetry, sculpture and dance. Choral singing Religious ceremonies
  13. 13. Consequences of Competitions Excellence in performance was key Competitions were emphasized Choirs began hiring professionals Caused decline of amateur musicians Decline of Music Education in Greek Schooling
  14. 14. Decline of Ancient Music Education Competitions and Festivals created a growth in virtuosity Music became more complex and difficult Aristotle warned against too much training in general music. • Created a reaction against technical virtuosity and musical complexity.  By the early Christian era, Greek music was much simplified
  15. 15. Music in Greek Education
  16. 16. Aristotle and Plato Aristotle and Plato believed that an education system that stressed gymnastics to discipline the body and music to discipline the mind could create the “right kind of person”.
  17. 17. Aristotle vs. Plato Music affects behavior Imitation Music that imitates a certain passion arouses that passion in a person. The right kind of music made you the right kind of person. Only certain modes Music could purge one of emotions through Catharsis. Development of Body and Mind should be balanced.
  18. 18. Plato “Education in music is most sovereign, because more than anything else rhythm and harmony find their way to the innermost soul and take strongest hold upon it, bringing with them and imparting grace…”
  19. 19. Aristotle “…our fathers admitted music into education not on the ground either of its necessity or utility…[but] for intellectual enjoyment in leisure…”
  20. 20. Rome
  21. 21. The Roman Empire
  22. 22. Music Education in Ancient Rome Romans conquered the Greeks and absorbed much of their culture including their education system. Romans were not innovative in music. Music was produced by professionals Most were slaves from other countries. Not respected by educators
  23. 23. Roman Attitude towards Music Music was not considered appropriate activity for boys Girls were hardly ever allowed to participate in musical activities. Music Education was not strongly included in the curriculum. Music Education was not highly thought of by Educators.
  24. 24. Secondary Education in Ancient Rome Only sons of Aristocrats had access to secondary education. Mathematic and Science students who were gifted were allowed to study music to enhance their scientific studies.
  25. 25. Who were the Musicians? Not Aristocrats! Artisans Professionals Slaves; allowed to study music in order to fulfill their duties.
  26. 26. Quintilian Music was studied by the sons of the Aristocracy as part of science education. Quintilian recommended the study of music to learn effective declamation and movement.
  27. 27. Ancient Roman Instruments
  28. 28. More Roman Instruments Tympanum, Dronepipe, Double Aulos Roman Cornu
  29. 29. Other Roman Instruments
  30. 30. Transition to the Early Christian Era
  31. 31. Decline of Roman Empire With the decline of the Roman Empire, the musical heritage of Ancient Greece was transmitted to the West through the Early Christian Church. Some concepts of Ancient Greek Music Theory were not understood, and therefore were not transmitted in full. Some concepts were lost completely, until rediscovered by scholars in the 15th and 16th Centuries. Simplification of Music
  32. 32. St. Augustine -354-430 A.D.
  33. 33. St. Augustine’s Influence Related Classical Greek thought to music for the early Church. Studied music’s ability to affect people’s emotions. also valued music for it’s scientific qualities. Reason vs. Emotion
  34. 34. Boethius- 475-525 A.D. Musicians should approach music not through the senses but through the reasoning mind and science. Quadrivial discipline The Fundamentals of Music On the highest level music communicates truth=reason On the lowest level music communicates emotion
  35. 35. Trivium vs. Quadrivium Three paths Grammar Logic Rhetoric *used arts in utilitarian manner-for practical use in daily life. Four paths Geometry Math Astronomy Music *spiritual applications
  36. 36. Quiz Why study Ancient Music Education? In Sparta, music was used to help develop loyalty to the State. How is this done today? Why would music education in Ancient Greek schooling be affected by professionalism and virtuosity? Who were the musicians in Ancient Rome? How was Ancient Music Education transmitted to the West after the Roman Empire fell?

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A brief survey of the role of music teaching in the ancient world. The inclusion of music in societies and among peoples, as well as the culturally perceived value of music education is highlighted in the presentation. Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and other geographic regions are examined based on the role of music learning and participation among the people. The presentation is punctuated with quotes by noted scholars and philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Boethius. Material compiled by Dr. Brian Ebie.

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