Topics in Ancient Greek music
Time: 18:30 - 20:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: MD028A
Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)
What is the course about?
These five sessions will present five key topics in ancient Greek music history.
The course will start with the earliest surviving fragments of ancient Greek musical instruments (c. 600 BC), and cover a wide range of material, from artistic representations of musicians, song lyrics, musical competitions, Pythagorean ideas of music, examples of songs with surviving ancient notation, and the legacy of ancient Greek music in the work of Boethius’ (c. AD 480-c.524) famous commentary on Ancient Greek music, De institutione musica (fundamentals of music), which was to remain influential for almost a thousand years.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
1. Musical Instruments (archaeology, literature, and art)
2. Musicians & Musical Culture (archaeology, literature, and art)
3. Music Theory & Philosophy (literature)
4. Musical Notation (reconstructing an ancient Greek hymn, a case study)
5. Musical Legacy (Boethius and the (mis)understanding of ancient music in the medieval period)
Additionally, each week will include guided listening of reconstructions of ancient Greek music.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- learn about the different musical instruments and styles of ancient Greece
- Form an overview of key topics in ancient Greek music theory
- learn about selected fragments of surviving music notation
- discover techniques used to reconstruct ancient Greek music in modern performance
- form a plan for your own further reading after this course.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for absolute beginners. However, we will look at some ancient music manuscripts and learn to identify key features of music theory (mode, note names, etc…) so this course will be most suitable for those who are curious and ambitious to learn.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
This is an online course:
Sessions will be held via video-conference (zoom) and comprise combinations of lecture, discussion, quizzes, guided listening, video and score study. Course materials (handouts, scores, links to online videos) will be shared via google classroom.
You will be encouraged to do extra reading outside class.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will need a good internet connection and a computer with microphone & webcam. If using a tablet it will need a screen large enough for you to comfortably view the class handouts.
You may also wish to purchase some of the music books or recordings discussed in class, links to these materials will be available online after each session.
If you wish to read further in this topic we recommend: Music in Ancient Greece: Melody, Rhythm and Life by Spencer Klavan (Bloomsbury 2021).
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
To find out more about music history classes Music history courses in London and online which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.
James is interested in the languages, cultures, society, and archaeology of ancient Mediterrean. As a child, he was fascinated by the displays and exhibitions at the Birmignham Musuem and Art Gallery, and enjoyed reading about all things ancient. After school, he went to the University of Exeter for his BA and MA, and was introduced to the sites of Greece on the British School at Athens undergraduate school. His PhD was funded by the Arts and Humanities Reseach Council and looked at the role fo music in ancient Sparta. As well as teaching at City Lit, he also lecturers at the University of Reading, and in 2022 he will start a Marie Curie fellowship at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, continuing his research into ancient Greek music. In his spare time, he enjoys amateur gardening, and listening to new and unfamiliar music.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.