Archaeology of Ancient Greek Music: From Reconstructing Instruments to Deconstructing Concepts
Studies in Music Archaeology Vol. 7 (2010), pp. 43-51
9 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2013
Date Written: October 24, 2010
This paper explores the implications archaeology can carry in view of our knowledge about ancient Greek music. In the 'classical' historical-philological perspective, archaeology of music mainly involves (a) organological study of remains of musical instruments and (b) study of musical finds or representations from proto- and pre-historic contexts. Taking material culture as point of departure expands the information beyond that traditionally derived from texts alone. It extends furthermore the perception beyond that imposed by historiography, which places ancient Greece at the beginnings of western written art music. Ethnographic analogies and critical theories confirm that this concept of 'ancient Greek music' carries with it important modern and ethnocentric assumptions. Comparative notions and methods are more adequate here and archaeology of music is much disposed at their implementation. It supports both ultimate ambitions of (a) 'reconstructing' the musical instruments and the actual sounds of ancient Greek music and of (b) 'deconstructing' the modern ethnocentric assumptions shaping the historical concept of music we use and thus the knowledge about 'ancient Greek music' we produce. It promotes 'new' and more adequate understanding of the music of ancient Greece from the empirical to the epistemological level.
Keywords: ancient Greek music, music archaeology, music iconography
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