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Analysis of Ancient Roman Music

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Music surrounds our everyday lives sometimes without even being noticed or appreciated. You get into your car in the morning and the radio will turn on. Step into an elevator and there will be background music. It is a component of our lives and for a lot of people it affects the way we go about our days. Personally I can say music has been there for me emotionally and has made a lot of things better for me. Music would never be where it is today without the advancements made in Ancient Rome. Legend is there isn’t much knowledge of pieces of Roman music because the men of the Christian church were against the music of theatre, festivals, and pagan religion and banished it once Christianity became the biggest religion of the Roman empire. Imagine what my have occurred and how present day life would look life if they were successful.

It is known that music has been around to the earliest dates of Ancient Rome. The oldest discoveries date back to the third century BCE, but also has been researched enough to be accurate. Despite of many archeological and written records there is not much a lot of people can say about the findings of Ancient Roman music. Many believe a lot of Roman music was stolen and extremely close to ancient greece music. One of the only main differences researchers have found between Roman and Greece are the emphasis Romans had to show the value of Etruscan tradition, which refers to their military. Also unlike many other cultures involving music they didn’t create any type of ethics theory meaning things such as rhythm, melody and even some instruments have ethos. Ethos means “an expression, which has an effect on the listener’s soul”. This left a lot of people doubtful on the ability of power music had at the time. One of Romans best genres was Arisic and Folk Music. They often played their music outside in big open spaces like ceremonies, streets in big cities, theaters, and banquets. Later on Military music became pretty popular for the Roman people. They used different instruments and sounds to encourage victory. They wanted them to sound very offensive and show they weren’t going to retreat. They also used this type of music to attempt to get the enemy to back down or get distracted. For the normal people it was used for with celebrations and military triumphs.

It would’ve been a disgrace to the culture back then if any social event was left without any type of performance involving music. They often called these performances “Carmen’s”. For example Ludi saeculares, Roman way of celebrating a new age or beginning. The Emperor Octavian Augustus in 17 BCE had a bunch of children perform in a choir one of the most popular songs called Horace by Carmen Saeculare. They believed this involved great amounts of math and knowledge. They believed so strongly that music was connected to education. Music also often appeared in events referred to as pantomimus, which are a form of ballet history including vigours amounts of dance, instruments and singing in the form of a libretto. Although people of today are not completely sure if Romans keep music records, they are aware of the way they wrote music They used a system of four letters A, G, F, and C. Each tone was marked by the length of the noise it made. Roman music only consisted of single melodies.

Romans were known for using wind, percussion and stringed instruments. Some examples of wind instruments are the tuba, cornua and tibia. Tubas are long woodwind instruments made of bronze much like a trumpet. it had a detachable conical mouthpiece as well. This type of instrument was commonly used in the military and in public events. The tibia was like a Greek aulos that was described as making a low clarinet sound. It was often used to play at funerals, they believed in order to repel evil spirits this certain music had to be used. The cornu was a brass instrument similar to a French horn. It was about 3 meters and many say it resembles the letter G. it’s one of the instruments that also have a detachable conical mouthpiece and was used for various events involving the military. The Romans also had the askaules which could be described as making a similar look and sound as a bagpipe. Strings instruments used were lyra, cithara, lute and harp. The lyra was one of romans discoverices stolen from Greece. It was made of a tortoise shell or a wood, two arms made of animal horn or wood, and strings attached to a cross that stretched and allowed movement back and forth to the body Like the last instrument the cithara was also taken from Greece. It is almost the same as Lyra but it is much bigger. It produced a loud calming sound and was one of the only instruments that could be tuned. The biggest difference between the two was the Lyra was played sitting down and the Cithara was played standing up.

In conclusion, Ancient Roman music was often overlooked because of the similarities it had with Ancient Greece music. It played an important role in society, education, and religion. They used very basic melodies and often used music to their advantages in the military with a range of different types of instruments. If it wasn’t for Rome’s advancement in the music industry, the music we have today would never be the same.   

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