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Sing, Muse: Literary, Theoretical, and Historical Approaches to Music in Classical Antiquity - 13/04


Music was an integral part of literary, artistic, social, and religious life in ancient Greece and Rome. Beyond the power it has held in every culture, both past and present, music in Greece was institutionalized as a crucial element of education (mousike). The association with the divine Muses, as well as the gods, Apollo and Hermes, illustrates its extension into the religious sphere, where musical performance was pervasive. And yet performance contexts were diverse and dynamic. Homeric bards recited epic with accompaniment on the phorminx, flute girls played music at Greek symposia, and carmina were sung at Roman games and festivals. Music held sway over philosophical thought as well. While the Pythagoreans viewed the cosmos itself as musical in its mathematical order and perfection, Plato’s Socrates advises that certain modes have a negative effect on virtue. Such moral and metaphysical ideas continued in the works of later musical theorists; for instance, Aristides Quintillianus. On the other hand, the movement of “new music,” an object of Plato’s attack, has increasingly come to be seen on its own terms as innovating on the musical and poetic traditions. Music was ubiquitous in the ancient world and is ripe for further inquiry.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 13/04/2018

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: The Graduate Center, City University of New York (New York, NY, USA)


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Keynote Speaker: Timothy Power, Rutgers University

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