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Bettina Joy De Guzman | Epitaph of Seikilos

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Epitaph of Seikilos

by Bettina Joy De Guzman

The oldest complete piece of written music and lyrics found so far in history. (Complete Ancient Greek Melody and Lyrics, anonymous composer, 1st Century CE, arranged for Luthieros Phorminx Lyre and Marini 10-String Lyre and vocals)
Genre: World: World Traditions
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Epitaph of Seikilos
2:39 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Engraved on an ancient Burial Stele at Tralles, Asia Minor, this beautiful poem with concise musical notations was discovered and published by Ramsay, 1883. Musical signs deciphered by Wessley, 1891. The stone itself, long preserved in the collection of Young at Doudja, disappeared after the burning of Smyrna (September 1923). It is now in the Copenhagen Museum, Inv. No. 14897.

This song, written in the ancient Greek Hypophrygian Mode, is so far, the oldest complete piece of music ever found - unlike the other precious shards of ancient Greek music which have survived; this piece is unique, as it survived in its entirety. The ancient Greek burial stele on which it was found bore the following epitaph:
"I am a stone icon. Seikilos placed me here, a mark of immortal remembrance throughout time."
The 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
Have not much grief
Life is for a short while
Time requires an end"



to write a review

Ben Thomas

Haunting melodies from the Iron Age
If you're like me (i.e., curious about historical cultures) you've probably wondered, "What's the oldest song whose melody and .lyrics we know for certain?" That's exactly the question Belinda Joy de Guzman answers with this recording. It's a painstakingly researched reconstruction of the oldest lyrics-and-melody combination ever discovered, performed by a pair of musicians who've mastered an array of ancient instruments. The result is a haunting, complex composition that still has the power to send chills up one's spine, even twenty centuries after it was written.

R Hubiak

Gorgeous and haunting
Even discounting the obvious allure of something as unique and curiosity-inspiring as a millennia old tune, you can hear this track objectively as a modern listener and instantly be drawn in by the hypnotic melody and the siren-like vocal. Add to that the dimension of history and all of Western Culture, and you have something truly amazing. For all its spare arrangement and minimal studio techno-wizardry, this track holds its own against any heavily-produced modern pop venture.

Alexander Meddings

Authentic and transportive
As a self-confessed classics geek, I love what Bettina and Michael have done here. The instrumentation and overall tone are wonderful. Great job!

Sergey Lenkov

Live Spirit of Ancient Greek World
One more record of famous Ancient Greek music epitaph from Asia Minor. What's interesting here?
It's the first ever record of this song in just tonality with vocal part.. It changes many things - particulary it makes Ancient World music quiite pleasant listening for our modern ears. We are not sure if Ancient Greeks knew just tonality and if this reconstruction is completely correct - but it's intersting as a new approach to well-known source and well-known song. By the way, this version could be quite useful for the lessons and lectures if you are the teacher of history.