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Module

CAC2057 : Greek and Roman Music

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr David Creese
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

'Why does everyone enjoy rhythm and music?' asked the author of the pseudo-Aristotelian Problems (19.38). Music is, as the Greeks recognised, a universal human activity, and classical literature is, not surprisingly, permeated with references to music and music-making. Yet not everyone enjoys rhythm and music in the same way, and differences in musical values lend themselves readily to ethical and cultural interpretation. Not surprisingly, ancient authors did not always treat music-making as a culturally or morally neutral activity: it involved memory, creation, imitation and performance, and this meant that it was intimately tied up with notions of individual, ethnic, cultural, religious and gender identity. Music thus became a key component in Greek and Roman self-fashioning, and musical discourse was constantly used as a rhetorical tool for defining self and others.

The module will investigate the main themes of the Graeco-Roman musical experience: the instruments, the social and cultural contexts for music-making, attitudes to music and musicians, and scientific and theoretical approaches to understanding how music works. Surviving pieces of ancient Greek music will also be studied. By considering several different types of evidence (iconographical, archaeological, epigraphical, textual), students will become familiar both with the various types of ancient musical instruments, their construction and performance contexts, and also with the most prominent aspects of musical discourse in classical literature and the various purposes this discourse was made to serve (e.g. political, pedagogical, nostalgic) within Greek and Roman literary culture. The module presupposes no prior knowledge of music, and all texts will be read in translation.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module begins with an overview of the types of surviving evidence for music in Greek and Roman antiquity, and then progresses via a broadly chronological route from the Bronze Age to late Imperial times, examining several key themes in each historical context (as applicable): song and song-culture, instruments, contexts for music-making, the surviving scores themselves, the theoretical study of music, literary uses of music, and ancient attitudes to musical trends, practices and culture.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists

Timetable