Song of Seikilos (Ancient Greek Melody​,​c​.​100BC)

from by Michael Levy

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"Song of Seikilos" - the final track on my album, is unique in musical history, as it is the only piece of music from antiquity in the entire Western world, that has SO far been found, which has survived in its COMPLETE form, and unlike much earlier surviving fragments of melodies that have been found, this song is written in a totally unambiguous ALPHABETICAL musical notation, which can be played, note for note, as it was written...about 2000 years ago:

www.amaranthpublishing.com/SongOfSeikilos.htm

This melody is an amazing musical legacy from ancient Greece; a precious remnant of a long-forgotten musical culture now forever lost in the mists of time. It is written in the ancient Greek "Hypophrygian" mode; the equivelant intervals as heard in a scale of G-G played on the white notes of the piano. (This mode confusingly has exactly the same intervals as heard in the MEDIEVAL "Mixolydian" mode -the ORIGINAL ancient GREEK "Mixolydian" mode, was, in fact, B-B!).

In this version, I have tried to utilize EVERY conceivable lyre-playing technique I could think of, which may have also been used in Antiquity! This includes experimenting with "string blocking" at the beginning (blocking certain notes to form chords with the left hand to enable rhythm to be strummed on the lyre; just as on a guitar!), alternating between finger-plucked and plectrum plucked tones, the use of basic harmony below the melodic line, a touch of improvisation between phrases and plenty of tremolos & glissando's...in order to inject some new life into this beautiful ancient melody...

This is a more lively rendition than some of the "dire dirge-like" renditions of the song I have heard on some older recordings of it - I have recently learnt that "The Song of Sekilos" is, in fact a DRINKING SONG! (What a GREAT idea of the ancient Greeks to put a drinking song on a TOMBSTONE - I want one to be on MINE!!). The ancient Greek term for a drinking song like this was called a "Skolion".

About 2000 years after it was written, this melody was rediscovered in 1883, in its complete & original form. It was found inscribed in marble on an ancient Greek burial stele, bearing the following epitaph: "I am a portrait in stone. I was put here by Seikilos, where I remain forever, the symbol of timeless remembrance".

The timeless words of the song are:

"Hoson zes, phainou
Meden holos su lupou;
Pros oligon esti to zen
To telos ho chronos apaitei"

Translation - "While you live, shine
Don't suffer anything at all;
Life exists only a short while
And time demands its toll"

credits

from An Ancient Lyre, released July 20, 2009

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Michael Levy UK

Michael Levy is a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, whose musical mission is to create an entirely new musical genre, which could best be described as a 'New Ancestral Music' - dedicated to reintroducing the recreated lyres, ancient musical modes and intonations, back into the modern musical world.. ... more

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