DIATONIC MUSIC IN GREECE: A REASSESSMENT OF ITS ANTIQUITY

In: Mnemosyne
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Abstract

This paper argues that diatonic music and the theory of its tunings were an important precursor to the musical developments of the fifth and fourth centuries. The cyclical principles of diatony were imported to Greece in the early Archaic period as a musical aspect of the Orientalizing movement, an event which is encrypted in the tradition that Terpander invented the seven-stringed lyre. The Terpandrian style of music persisted until the time of Phrynis in the mid-fifth century, after whom constant harmonic innovation began to obscure its important diatonic foundation. This phase of Greek musical history has left only oblique traces in the corpus of technical literature, since the earliest (mostly) extant treatise, the Elementa Harmonica of Aristoxenus, presents rather an account of the Perfect System, which was designed to accommodate the innovations of the later Classical period.

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