What did ancient music sound like?

What did ancient music sound like?

It’s normal to be nostalgic for the music of bygone eras; “back when music was music” people often say. “I remember when music used to be good!” However, it’s hard to be nostalgic for the music of ancient times, because we rarely have an idea of what it sounds like–until now! A couple weeks ago on the MUST blog, we explored the history of instruments in antiquity. But how were these instruments played, and what kinds of music was played? What did it sound like? Recent projects by musicologists have reconstructed what Ancient Greek music may have sounded like. By analyzing ancient instruments, rhythms, rhymes, and meter from Ancient Greek poetry, some researchers think they have an estimation of how this music sounded. So what does a 3000-year-old song sound like? Researchers in the above video used fragments of an ancient text carved into stone as the basis for their reconstruction of a piece of Ancient Greek music. The fragments contain 80-90 bars of music. Using reconstructions and replicas of instruments from the time this music was written, scholars and musicians were able to create an approximation of what this music sounded like.  A reproduction of a double pipe in the Louvre exhibit (seen in our previous post) was used to make the tone and timbre as close to the original instrument’s as possible. The lyre replicas were created from depictions of the instruments found on recovered vases and pottery. Musicians inferred the mode of playing these instruments from their own experiences with modern-day instruments. Due to the simplistic designs of these ancient instruments, musicians are able to closely replicate...
3 ways to celebrate National Classical Music Month

3 ways to celebrate National Classical Music Month

Since 1994, when President Bill Clinton signed Proclamation 6716, September has been National Classical Music Month. In the proclamation, President Clinton outlined the ways in which classical music reflects the American consciousness: Classical music is a celebration of artistic excellence. Great art endures through the ages, and in the United States we have embraced that great music and incorporated it into the American experience. Our best art reflects our Nation’s spirit—that mixture of discipline and improvisation, the combination of strong individual voices working together at the same time, the bravado, the inventiveness, the dynamism of the American character. Classical music plays in harmony with that energy and spirit to become reinvigorated and reinvented with each new orchestra or chamber group, with every performance that rings out new and fresh. Many supporters of classical music have noted the ways in which composers and performers create work which evokes intense emotion and deeply move the listener. Classical music has the capacity to compel the human spirit even more than popular music and has the depth and breadth to evoke ideas as broad as elation, heroism, anger, and anguish. Proclamation 6716 contends that classical music has “continuity and tradition”, and can be a “unifying force” worldwide. How can you incorporate more classical music into your daily life during the month of September? Here are three ideas to get you started: 1. Segment your symphonies Classical pieces are longer than popular music, exponentially so if you are looking entire works like cycles or operas. This can sometimes be intimidating or off-putting to people trying to get into classical music. Instead of setting aside a whole day...
Musical Instruments of the Ancient World

Musical Instruments of the Ancient World

For all the time humans have been able to hear, we have loved playing and listening to music. But when did we begin creating instruments with which to play this music? MUST Program Assistant, Megan, had the opportunity this summer to visit The Louvre in Paris and see some of the ancient Egyptian musical instruments in their collections. This got us thinking about the histories of the instruments play every day. Where did they come from? How have they changed? Join us on a brief trip through history, and learn more about your favorite instruments! The bodyThe earliest musical instruments were the human body itself! Singing, clapping, drumming on the body–the human body requires no storage, next to no upkeep, and little-to-no training to get started. No wonder it’s still one of the most common instruments today! Though techniques and styles have changed over the millennia (beat-boxing, or tongue-singing anyone?), the mechanism has remained the same! Early percussionOnce early peoples realized they could make sounds with the impact of one body part against the other, they began to experiment with using tools to make different sounds. Clappers, rhythm sticks, and percussion blocks made of shells, plants, or stone were used to keep time and accompany the voice. Egyptian cymbals at The Louvre In Mesopotamia, round 2500 BCE, images of instruments became common. Much of our knowledge of early instrument come from these illustrations and sculptures. The sistrum was an early metal shaker from Mesopotamia, with metal rings on adjustable bars, so the musician could adjust the amount of rattle that came from the shaker. These were later common in...
Free Instrument Petting Zoo on a Rooftop Park!

Free Instrument Petting Zoo on a Rooftop Park!

  What? Is it Back to School again already? That’s right! For many Bay Area schools, students begin to head back in mid-August. Even though summer is starting to wind down, however, that doesn’t mean summer fun has ended for good! Don’t miss a FREE Instrument Petting Zoo on Saturday, August 11th at the Salesforce Park Grand Opening! Join us at the park’s children’s area for three hours of musical fun on the gorgeous rooftop park in downtown San Francisco. MUST has teamed up with the folks at Salesforce Park in downtown San Francisco for a month of Saturday music events. We kick off the Fall season with an Instrument Petting Zoo at the Salesforce Park Grand Opening on Saturday, August 11th, and continue the fun every Saturday through August with a MUST teaching artist leading songs on the rooftop park. What’s an Instrument Petting Zoo? It’s an opportunity for kids of all ages to explore new instruments and make some music outside. Our staff offers many instruments, including guitar, keyboard, accordion, tambourine, xylophone, castanets, bells, and many other percussion instruments. So come out and join us in downtown San Francisco for music and fun in the sun (or maybe in the fog…)! Please follow and like...

Spring cleaning means donating instruments!

The weather is getting warmer and the sun is out! You know what that means: it’s time for Spring cleaning. What better time to take stock of your closet, spare room, or garage and donate old and unused instruments! One of the biggest obstacles students face in their music education is obtaining the actual instruments to play. Many students simply do not have the resources to purchase or rent instruments, and many schools don’t have the funding to supply them. This is where YOU come in! Simply fill out a donation form on our website and drop off any instruments you no longer use at one of our three drop-off sites in the Bay Area. Your instrument donation will directly impact a child in need! So start cleaning that garage, and donate your instruments today! If you have an instrument that you would like to donate, it’s easy! Just call us at (415) 392-9010 or fill out the online form and we will contact you. At this time we are unable to accept donations of pianos and drum kits. Learn more about our Adopt an Instrument program here. *At this time, we are unable to accept piano donations and drum kits. For piano donations, please contact Piano Finders at 925-202-2229. Thank you! Please follow and like...

March is Music in Our Schools Month

It’s almost March. Spring is almost here–flowers are peeking their heads out of their winter beds and birds are beginning to make music for all to hear. What better way to ring in the new season than to celebrate the earth’s newfound melodies and energy with Music in Our Schools Month! Since 1985, the National Association for Music Education has been celebrating music in schools every March. They hold the Biggest School Chorus in the World and generally advocate for music in schools across the nation. In honor of Music in Our Schools Month and California Arts Education Month, we will be offering up ways to celebrate on our blog every week in March. Join us in celebrating and advocating for music in schools!   Ways you can participate in Music in Our Schools Month: Make a “Music Month” calendar, and suggest that students dress for different musical eras. Play appropriate music as students arrive in the morning and at lunchtime. Add a musical touch to the morning announcements. Try having a “mystery tune” each day, or a music trivia question, with prizes for the winner. Collaborate with the art teacher and have students design posters, banners, and buttons featuring the theme of ‘Music Connects Us.’ Ask students to draw their favorite musical instrument, have them design an instrument of the future, or bring in homemade instruments for “show and tell.” Share how your organization is participating this month by tweeting using the #miosm hashtag and tagging @mustcreate. What is your favorite way to celebrate music? Tell us in the comments below!   #MIOSM Please follow and like...