Michael Levy & Rebecca Penkett
2017
Michael Levy

Story

11/18/2016
Michael Levy

Story

Track 1, "Kithara of the Golden Age"...

Polyhymnia ( Πολυύμνια; "the one of many hymns"), was in Greek mythology the Muse of sacred poetry, sacred hymn, dance, and eloquence as well as agriculture and pantomime. Her name comes from the Greek words "poly" meaning "many" and "hymnos", which means "praise"

She is depicted as very serious, pensive and meditative, and often holding a finger to her mouth, dressed in a long cloak and veil and resting her elbow on a pillar. Polyhymnia is also sometimes credited as being the Muse of geometry and meditation. 

This piece, therefore is fittingly composed in the intensively introspective ancient Greek Dorian Mode (the equivalent intervals as E-E on the white notes of the piano and misnamed the 'Phrygian' mode in the Middle Ages). This uniquely introspective characteristic of the ancient Greek Dorian Mode is further enhanced by the use the pure, focussed musical intervals tuned in authentic just intonation:





Michael Levy

Story

Track 7, "Kithara of the Golden Age"...

In Classical Greece, a Paean was a song or lyric poem expressing triumph or thanksgiving. Ares was the ancient Greek god of war.

This piece is therefore in the ancient Greek Dorian Mode - which according to Plato, was the most manly of all the musical modes, capable of even inspiring bravery in battle, Misnamed the 'Phrygian' mode in the Middle Ages, the intensely introspective ancient Greek Dorian mode is the equivalent intervals as E-E on the white notes of the piano. I also use authentically pure intervals tuned in just intonation.

In his philosophical analysis of the 'manly' qualities of the ancient Greek Dorian mode "The Republic" by Plato, Book III (398-403), in a classic philosophical dialogue of argument and counter-argument between the characters in this passage, the text is as follows:

"The harmonies which you mean are the mixed or tenor Lydian, and the full-toned or bass Lydian, and such-like.
These then, I said, must be banished; even to women who have a character to maintain they are of no use, and much less to men.

Certainly.

In the next place, drunkenness and softness and indolence are utterly unbecoming the character of our guardians.

Utterly unbecoming?

And which are the soft and convivial harmonies?

The Ionian, he replied, and some of the Lydian which are termed “relaxed”.

Well, and are these of any use for warlike men?

Quite the reverse, he replied; and if so the Dorian and the Phrygian are the only ones which you have left."

Story

"The Sack of Troy: Paean for Ancient Greek Kithara" - an improvisation for replica ancient Greek kithara, (the large wooden lyre once played by the professional musicians of ancient Greece) in the favourite ancient Greek mode of Plato himself; the ancient Greek Dorian Mode, which he considered the most 'manly' and noble of the musical modes, capable even of inspiring bravery in battle. In ancient Greek Classical literature, there was a lost ancient Greek epic by the title of "The Sack of Troy" - which was one of the Epic Cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse.

In creating this this new composition for replica ancient Greek kithara, it was therefore my intention to evoke the sort of ancient Greek 'paean' style melody (an ancient Greek hymn of thanksgiving) to which that lost epic of ancient Greece could have been recited:

Michael Levy
08/19/2016

Story

This single features a completely spontaneous improvisation for solo replica ancient Greek chelys (tortoise shell form) lyre based on a hauntingly evocative documented microtonal scale from ancient Greece, known as the "Archytas Enharmonic Genus"

The use of quarter tones in this ancient Greek scale adds an intensity to the resulting music improvised in it in an entirely different dimension to the artificial constraints of our monotonously standardized 12 note chromatic system. The feeling of intensity in this microtonal scale is further enhanced by the authentic use of the clearly focussed intervals, tuned here in just intonation.

In this improvisation, I also demonstrate the rhythmic potential of the reconstructed tortoise shell form lyre by using the greater mass of my replica ancient Greek carved bone plectrum to also occasionally beat rhythm on the skin soundboard; in much the same manner that acoustic guitarists today can beat rhythm on the soundboard of their guitars whilst they play - I sincerely hope that Apollo would approve of my effects to bring both his lyre and his long-forgotten ancient Greek musical scales new life:



06/24/2016
Michael Levy

Story

An evocation of the lost tranquility of Classical antiquity...

This single features a completely spontaneous improvisations for chelys (tortoise shell form) lyre, recorded, live in my own garden at the height of summer, with nothing but the soothing, timeless background sounds of flowing water and birdsong.

Unlike ancient Greece, from which we are lucky enough to have at least 60 fragments of actual written music (notated in the unambiguous alphabetical system of ancient Greek musical notation, whereby specific alphabetical symbols represented specific pitches), there is strangely not a shred of written music to have survived from ancient Rome.

However, as the Romans so obviously borrowed so much from the artistic culture of ancient Greece, particularly in art and architecture, it goes without saying that when it came to music, it is therefore incredibly likely that they also borrowed many musical ideas from ancient Greece as well. This is evident by the similarity between depictions of the ancient Roman kithara and tortoise shell lyres (for example, in the fresco's found preserved in Pompeii and Herculaneum) to their ancient Greek counterparts.

Therefore, in putting together this single, I used an ancient Greek mode; the distinctively warm and contented-sounding ancient Greek Hypophrygian Mode - this mode was the equivalent intervals as G-G on the white notes of the piano, (misnamed the 'Mixolydian' mode in the Middle Ages). I also tuned my lyre in the ancient, authentically pure tuning system of just intonation.

The main challenge of recording this piece, live in my own garden, was avoiding also recording the almost omnipresent, tinnitus-like 21st century background noise - to those with more sensitive ears, a few tiny snippets of '21st century auditory blemishes' may have very slightly stained the image of the purity of Classical serenity I was trying to portray, but in general, I think I accomplished the monumental task to the best of my ability! Enjoy a taste of my evocation of the lost tranquility of the Classical world...


03/02/2016
Michael Levy

Story

Clip of Track 1, "The Ancient Greek Kithara of Classical Antiquity":

Regarding the story of Odysseus and the Sirens in Homer’s “Odyssey", quoting from Wikipedia:

“In Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: Σειρήν Seirēn;Greek plural: Σειρῆνες Seirēnes) were dangerous yet beautiful creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island…Odysseus was curious as to what the Sirens sang to him, and so, on the advice of Circe, he had all of his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast. He ordered his men to leave him tied tightly to the mast, no matter how much he would beg. When he heard their beautiful song, he ordered the sailors to untie him but they bound him tighter. When they had passed out of earshot, Odysseus demonstrated with his frowns to be released”

This piece is an evocation of the sort of melody which may once have accompanied a recitation of this tale. I use the distinctively poignant and luring ancient Greek Phrygian mode (misnamed the ‘Dorian’ mode in the Middle Ages), featuring an atmospheric background of ocean sounds, with the sound of the kithara enhanced by a subtle reverb, sampled from Belgian monasteries…

03/02/2016
Michael Levy

Story

Track 3, "The Ancient Greek Kithara of Classical Antiquity"...

This piece is an evocation of the type of melody which may have once accompanied a recitation of the 6th Orphic Hymn, “To The Stars (Astron)”:

“With holy voice I call the stars [Astron] on high, pure sacred lights and genii of the sky.

Celestial stars, the progeny of Night [Nyx], in whirling circles beaming far your light,

Refulgent rays around the heav'ns ye throw, eternal fires, the source of all below.
With flames significant of Fate ye shine, and aptly rule for men a path divine.
In seven bright zones ye run with wand'ring flames, and heaven and earth compose your lucid frames:

 

With course unwearied, pure and fiery bright forever shining thro' the veil of Night.
Hail twinkling, joyful, ever wakeful fires! Propitious shine on all my just desires;

These sacred rites regard with conscious rays, and end our works devoted to your praise.”

 

This piece is in the distinctively poignant ancient Greek Phrygian mode, which also can invoke a unique sense of timelessness and mystery, perfect for a song of praise to the immortal stars of the celestial spheres…


08/03/2015
Michael Levy

Story

Track 1, "The Ancient Greek Tortoise Shell Lyre"...

This is a spontaneous improvisation in the poignant, yearning ancient Greek Phrygian Mode, perfect for expressing an evocation of the lost world of the “Golden Age” of Athenian culture, which flourished under the leadership of Pericles (495-429 B.C.), a brilliant general, orator, patron of the arts and politician—”the first citizen” of democratic Athens, according to the historian Thucydides.

The Age of Pericles (461-429 BCE), denotes the period of history in which enabled the necessary conditions for Athens to rise as an academic and artistic superstructure which gave birth to Western Philosophy, in turn acting as the foundations of all we claim to know within our postmodern society and all its previous developments. Some have come to know this era as “The Golden Age” because in such a short period of time, advancements in all fields of practice flourished by merely by questioning the foundations in which knowledge was built from and if error was identified, correcting it by re-establishing the foundations in which its conception originated.

The first track sets the mood of the album by strumming the foundations in which made this album possible:

08/03/2015
Michael Levy

Story

This improvisation is in the dreamy sounding ancient Greek Hypolydian Mode - perfect for evoking images of the flowers and birdsong once seen and heard in the garden of this famous Philosopher.

Epicurus' hedonistic and materialistic philosophy flourished and grew amidst the privately owned groves of this Garden - apart from the city of Athens, a private space, which became a symbol for the detachment and hedonism of the Epicurean school. Epicurus found meaning in everyday interaction. Experience the good things! What truly are those good things? Well that is what we need to ask ourselves. To him, it was through the means of forming a philosophically driven family based community which focused primarily on our human relationships and intellectual development, that we could obtain happiness in this life. “The Garden of Epicurus” is a song attributed to the Epicurean Gardens in which Epicurus administered his school of philosophical investigations which revolved around developing strong relationships within close communities, materialism, and an ascetic form of hedonism which promotes satisfying all of our needs utilizing the bare minimum needed to fulfil those needs. He is famous for his tetrapharmakos which stood as his four ingredients to make a happy and peaceful life: 1) don't fear God, 2) don't worry about death, 3) what is good is easy to obtain, and 4) what is terrible is easy to endure.

This track explores the serenity that likely would have resonated within his beautiful gardens of both physical and mental natures:


08/03/2015
Michael Levy

Story

Track 7, "The Ancient Greek Tortoise Shell Lyre" - an improvisation in the intensely mournful ancient Greek Hypodorian Mode...

“The trial and execution of Socrates took place in 399 BC. Socrates was tried on two charges: corrupting the youth and impiety (in Greek, asebeia). More specifically, Socrates' accusers cited two "impious" acts: "failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges" and "introducing new deities". Socrates' death was the result of his asking philosophical questions. A majority of the dikasts (Athenian citizens chosen by lot to serve as jurors) voted to convict him. Consistent with common practice, the dikasts determined Socrates’ punishment with another vote. Socrates was ultimately sentenced to death by drinking a hemlock-based liquid” ( “Trial of Socrates” - Wikipedia)

The death of Socrates was a horrific event in which Socrates was charged of impiety and corrupting the youth. His friend asked the Oracle who was the wisest man in the world. The Oracle replied, "Socrates". When news of this returned to Socrates, he rejected it, asserting that he indeed knew nothing and because of this, there was no way he could have been the wisest man in the world. He began to indiscriminately search for individuals who knew something and as he questioned them about their knowledge, he found that their beliefs to be unfounded and rooted in the way they individually see the world, focused on the results and missing the foundational details.

This irritated some officials in which he publicly discredited and they charged him. At the trial he publicly stated his case and by majority vote was found guilty. His punishment was deemed death but Socrates also had friends in high places who arranged an escape plan in exile. But Socrates refuses, declaring that if the city he chose to spend most of his time in desires to punish him even with death, he must comply considering it was the city he invested his life into and has grown to love so much. His love for democracy ended up being his executioner. Thus, Socrates passes as his goblet of hemlock fulfils its intended purpose.

This track attempts to show respect to the world's greatest philosopher who was murdered by the very people he was trying to help. Does this history echo in different situations throughout society?



Michael Levy

Story

This track is a spontaneous improvisation for solo chelys (tortoise shell form) replica ancient Greek lyre, in the ancient Greek Chromatic Phrygian Mode (equivalent intervals as DEFG#ABCD) - this unsettling mode can also be heard in an actual surviving fragment of written music from ancient Greece, in a dramatic fragment from Ajax, known as "Tecmessa's Lament"

01/26/2015
Michael Levy

Story

Track 1 from my album, "The Lyre of Apollo: The Chelys Lyre of Ancient Greece". 

This album is the 'first fruits' of the exciting collaboration between myself and Lutherios Ancient & Modern Music Instruments since 2014, in their inspirational "Lyre 2.0 Project" - dedicated to reintroducing the beautiful lyre of antiquity back into our much aesthetically poorer, bland modern world. Their vision is one I share and which continues to inspire me - maybe, some day soon, the beautiful lyre of antiquity will once again resonate the 21st century and beyond, with its haunting, ancient beauty...

10/16/2012
Michael Levy

Story

My myriad of "Musical Adventures in Time Travel" would not be complete, without exploring the notorious Emperor Nero - the most famous (or rather infamous!) lyre player of antiquity, who we actually know by name!

According to the timeless folklore, Nero famously played his lyre to accompany the lament ("The Sack of Illion") he was said to have sung whilst watching Rome burn before him in the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE: whether this event was fact or fiction is irrelevant - the concept of this unique single, is to evoke upon my own lyre, what Nero's famous lament may have actually sounded like... 

11/03/2012
Michael Levy

Story

Track 3, "A Well Tuned Lyre - The Just Intonation of Antiquity". 

This piece is a heterophonic development of an earlier composition of mine, originally called “Apollo’s Lyre” (track 1 of my album of the same title, composed in the ancient Greek Hypophrygian Mode).

This is one of my personal favourite compositions. In this new arrangement, the tone is dramatically improved by my new hand-made lyre & the purity of the use of just intonation brings this piece one step closer, to the Music of the Spheres...

07/08/2013
Michael Levy

Story

This composition for solo lyre, was inspired by the timeless ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice:

"Eurydice and Orpheus were young and in love. So deep was their love that they were practically inseparable. So dependent was their love that each felt they could not live without the other. These young lovers were very happy and spent their time frolicking through the meadows. One day Eurdice was gaily running through a meadow with Orpheus when she was bitten by a serpent. The poison of the sting killed her and she descended to Hades immediately.

Orpheus was son of the great Olympian god Apollo. In many ways Apollo was the god of music and Orpheus was blessed with musical talents. Orpheus was so sad about the loss of his love that he composed music to express the terrible emptiness which pervaded his every breath and movement. He was so desperate and found so little else meaningful, that he decided address Hades. As the overseer of the underworld, Hades heart had to be hard as steel, and so it was. Many approached Hades to beg for loved ones back and as many times were refused. But Orpheus' music was so sweet and so moving that it softened the steel hearted heart of Hades himself. Hades gave permission to Orpheus to bring Eurydice back to the surface of the earth to enjoy the light of day. There was only one condition - Orpheus was not to look back as he ascended. He was to trust that Eurydice was immediately behind him. It was a long way back up and just as Orpheus had almost finished that last part of the trek, he looked behind him to make sure Eurydice was still with him. At that very moment, she was snatched back because he did not trust that she was there. When you hear music which mourns lost love, it is Orpheus' spirit who guides the hand of the musicians who play it" (Taken from Thomas Bulfinch and retold by Juliana Podd in Encyclopedia Mythica)

In this piece, I explore transposing between the incredibly poignant-sounding ancient Greek Phrygian mode (this was misnamed the "Dorian" mode in the Middle Ages) to evoke the yearning of Orpheus for his forever lost love, and the dreamy, sensual & feminine-sounding ancient Greek Hypolydian mode (misnamed the "Lydian" mode in the Middle Ages), to paint a picture of Eurydice - the lost love for which he forever yearns...

In this composition, I tune my lyre to the wonderfully pure just intonation of antiquity - unlike the horrible compromise of equal temperament, whereby each semitone is artificially made equal, in order to seamlessly transpose between different keys, in just intonation, the correct & exact ratio of pitches in a scale is precisely calculated, resulting in a wonderfully pure sound. In just intonation, the intervals have a unique density & music performed in just intonation is at the same time transformed into a sound that is both calming yet at the same time, inspiring. Just intonation was perhaps, one of the little-known wonders of the ancient world?



12/18/2013
Michael Levy

Story

Track 1 from my album, "The Ancient Roman Lyre" - a spontaneous improvisation for solo lyre, in the ancient, mournful Hypodorian mode, in the pure just intonation of antiquity:


Michael Levy
09/28/2013
Ancient Mesopotamian Musical Fragment

Story

The first track featured on my 2nd compilation album, "Musical Adventures in Time Travel"  - my most recent arrangement for solo lyre, of one of the oldest known written musical fragments so far discovered in History, in my performance of Dr Richard Dumbrill's interpretation of the 3400 year old Hurrian Hymn (Text H6) from ancient Ugarit in Mesopotamia.

Hurrian Hymn (Text H6) was discovered in Ugarit in Syria in the early 1950's and was preserved for 3400 years on a clay tablet, written in the Cuneiform text of the ancient Hurrian language. Although 29 musical texts were discovered at Ugarit, only this text, (text H6), was in a sufficient state of preservation to allow for modern academic musical reconstruction. In short, the Cuneiform text clearly indicated specific names for lyre strings, and their respective musical intervals – a sort of “Guitar tablature”, for lyre!

Although discovered in modern day Syria, the Hurrians were not Syrian – they came from modern-day Anatolia. The Hurrian Hymn actually dates to the very end of the Hurrian civilisation (circa1400 BCE). Indeed, the ancient Hurrian civilization dated back to at least 3000 BCE. The evocation of the ancient Kinnor Lyre from neighbouring Israel, on which I perform the piece, is almost tonally identical to the wooden asymmetric-shaped lyres played throughout the Middle East at this amazingly distant time...

The melody is an interpretation by Richard Dumbrill, from the ambiguous Cuneiform text of the Hurrian language in which it was written. Although many of the meanings of the Hurrian language are now lost in the mists of time, it can be established that the fragmentary Hurrian Hymn which has been found on these precious clay tablets are dedicated to Nikkal; the wife of the moon god. There are several such interpretations of this melody, but to me, the fabulous interpretation by Richard Dumbrill just somehow sounds the most "authentic".

My first arrangement of the Hurrian Hymn originally featured in my album, “An Ancient Lyre” & a remixed version of the same arrangement, as track 1 on my 1st compilation album, "Ancient Landscapes". In my new arrangement fo the Hurrina Hymn featured in this 2nd compilation, I play the melody on my new hand-made lyre, tuning my lyre as the ancients once did, using the pristine purity of the just intonation of antiquity... 

In just intonation, to achieve absolute purity of each musical interval in a scale, the ratio of every single musical interval is precisely calculated in rational numbers. As the ratio of each interval is very slightly different in just intonation, since the time of Bach, modern equal temperament eventually came to predominate - as all the intervals in equal temperament are artificially made equal, this enables the seamless transposition to different keys, without any change in the ratio of the intervals. 

However, although seamless transposition & modulation between keys is therefore possible in equal temperament, the terrible consequence of equal temperament is that apart from the octave, all the other intervals are all artificially made slightly out of tune! Indeed, out of tune “wooowooowoo” sounding beat waves can clearly be heard, whenever a triad is played on a piano.

The effects of hearing music in the lost purity of just intonation, is a much more serene, yet at the same time, inspiring feeling, with much more intensity of the emotion. Music performed in poor compromise of equal temperament is, in comparison, like a rose without its scent...

In this new arrangement of the melody, I also use much more authentic-sounding natural fibre strings on my lyre, for the finishing touches to the ancient timbre I wish to convey. The strings of my lyre were made of wound silk by ancient musical string technology expert, Peter Pringle – the nearest match in tone, to the unpolished wound gut strings once used in antiquity.

In the repeat featured in my arrangement of the melody, I explore a heterophonic development of the 3400 year old melody deciphered by Dumbrill, featuring an ancient Mesopotamian percussive style of lyre playing, whereby the strings of the lyre, instead of being plucked with either the fingers or a plectrum, are hit with a wooden baton (similar to a modern hammered dulcimer). This technique can be seen on the famous Bas Reliefs of musicians from the ruins of the Palace at Nineveh - these reliefs date back to c.700BCE.

In my arrangement of the Hurrian Hymn, I have attempted to illustrate an interesting diversity of ancient lyre playing techniques, ranging from the use of "block and strum" improvisation at the end, glissando's, trills & tremolos, and alternating between harp-like tones in the left hand produced by finger-plucked strings, and guitar-like tones in the right hand, produced by use of the plectrum. In all my solo lyre playing, I also experiment some basic homophony – contrary to the “urban myth” of the monotony of monophony in the ancient world...

There is also a fascinating modern arrangement for piano & orchestra of Dumbrill’s interpretation of the melody of Hurrian Hymn Text H6, by the Syrian pianist & composer Malek Jandali, entitled “Echoes of Ugarit”. However, to my knowledge, my arrangement of the melody in this compilation is quite possibly, for the first time in 3400 years, that the Hurrian Hymn has been authentically performed on an actual lyre with natural fibre strings, in the pristine purity of the just intonation of antiquity...

Michael Levy
10/15/2012
Ancient Greek "Skolion" (Drinking Song)

Story

The "Epitaph of Seikilos" is the oldest complete piece of written music to have survived from antiquity.

Engraved on an ancient Burial Stele at Tralles, Asia Minor, this beautiful melody 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 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"


A video of one of my early "live" YouTube performances of "Epitaph of Seikilos" featured in a story in "The Australian Daily Telegraph" in November 2013

Michael Levy
10/15/2012
Ancient Greek Music Fragment

Story

Track 8, "A Well Tuned Lyre: The Just Intonation of Antiquity".

This is my most recent arrangement for solo lyre in the just intonation of antiquity, of  the famous "First Delphic Hymn to Apollo" - a precious surviving fragment of music, which is an amazing legacy from the mostly lost musical culture of ancient Greece:



In January 2013, my arrangement of the Delphic Hymn heard here, was featured in episode 1 of the BBC Radio 3 series, "The Story of Music Question Time".

There are two Delphic Hymns that have been discovered, and they were dedicated to the god Apollo. Unlike the famous "Song of Seikilos" (the first  complete piece of music that has been so far found to have survived from antiquity), the two Delphic Hymns have sadly not survived in their complete form. However, they do survive in substantial fragments...giving just a tantalizing taste of the glory of the tragically lost, magnificent musical culture of ancient Greece!

The two Delphic Hymns were traditionally dated c.138 BC and 128 BC. My rendition here, is of the earlier of them; the First Delphic Hymn. Although it has unfortunately not survived in its complete form, the First Delphic Hymn to Apollo is the earliest unambiguous surviving fragment of notated music from anywhere in the Western World! It is written in the unambiguous alphabetical musical notation system used in ancient Greece, whereby alphabetical notation describing the pitch of the melody, is written above the text of the song, as can be clearly seen in this image of the actual Delphic Hymn, as it was found, inscribed in marble:

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Delphic_Hymns

The rhythm can easily be inferred from the syllables of the text.

The First Delphic Hymn to Apollo was discovered in 1893 by a French archaeologist. It was inscribed in marble, carved on an outside wall of the Treasury of the Athenians at Delphi.

All that is known about its composer is that it was written by an Athenian, around 138 BC, since the part of the inscription giving the name of the composer is too difficult to read. The Second Delphic Hymn is slightly more recent, and has been dated to precisely 128 BC; evidently it was first performed in the same year. The name of the composer of the Second Delphic Hymn has also survived, in a separate inscription: he is called "Limenius". The occasion of the later hymn was the Pythian Festival, and this one, the earlier hymn, was probably written for the boys choir at the Pythian Games in 138 BC.

Recent research, though, seems to confirm that both Hymns, in fact, date to the slightly earlier date of 128 BC - the year of the Pythian Festival to Apollo (held 10 years before the Pythian Games)

The translation of the fragment of text which has survived of the this, the First Delphic Hymn to Apollo, is as follows:

"Hear me, you who posses deep-wooded Helicon,
fair-armed daughters of Zeus the magnificent!
Fly to beguile with your accents your brother,
golden-tressed Phoebus who, on the twin peak of this rock of Parnassus,
escorted by illustrius maidens of Delphi,
sets out for the limpid strams of Castalia, traversing,
on the Delphic promontory, the prophetic pinnacle.
Behold glorious Attica, nation of the great city which,
thanks to the prayers of the Tritonid warrior,
occupies a hillside sheltered from all harm.
On the holy alters Hephaestos cosumes the thighs of young bullocks,
mingled with the flames, the Arabian vapor rises towards Olympos.
The shrill rustling lotus murmurs its swelling song, and the golden kithara,
the sweet-sounding kithara, answers the voice of men.
And all the host of poets, dwellers in Attica, sing your glory, God,
famed for playing the kithara, son of great Zeus,
beside this snow-crowned peak, oh you who reveal to all mortals
the eternal and infallible oracles.
They sing how you conquered the prophetic tripod
guarded by a fierce dragon when, with your darts
you pierced the gaudy, tortuously coiling monster,
so that, uttering many fearful hisses, the beast expired.
They sing too, . . . ."

Michael Levy
10/15/2012
Ancient Greek Musical Fragment

Story

Track 5, "A Well Tuned Lyre - The Just Intonation of Antiquity". 

This haunting, almost dream-like fragment of melody was preserved in ancient Byzantine manuscripts (Conspectus codicum:V. Venetus Marcianus appl. cl. VI, saec. XIII-XIV N. Neapolitanus graecus III. C4, saec. XVF. Florentius Ricc. 41, saec. XVI), in the unambiguous alphabetical musical notation used in ancient Greece.

This haunting melodic fragment is simply catalogued as "Anonymous, Bellermann 97": 

 

02/19/2012
Michael Levy

Story

Track 1, from my album "Ode To Ancient Rome". 

Composed as a requiem to the tragically lost music of ancient Rome, this piece is performed in the mournful ancient Phrygian Mode, with my lyre tuned in the beautifully pure intervals of just intonation:

 

01/01/2011
Michael Levy

Story

Track 3, "Echoes of Ancient Rome".

This piece is composed in the distinctively dreamy, sensual and feminine sounding ancient Greek Hypolydian Mode, to evoke the characteristics of Venus - the ancient Roman goddess of erotic love...



03/05/2010
Michael Levy

Story

"Spirit Of The Kithara" (Composition For Lyre In The Ancient Greek Dorian Mode) - Clip of Track 1, "The Ancient Greek Modes":

03/05/2010
Michael Levy

Story

Glory Of The Parthenon (Composition For Lyre In The Ancient Greek Phrygian Mode) - Track 7, "The Ancient Greek Modes":

08/06/2011
Michael Levy

Story

 Track 5 "Awe of the Aten", from my album, "The Ancient Egyptian Harp".

This EP length release features original composition in ancient musical modes, an improvisation on an ancient Egyptian scale & Egyptian folk music, arranged for archaic skin-membrane arched harp, complete with natural fibre strings - almost identical to the ornate arched harps played some 3500 years ago in the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt...

 

hb_43_2_1.jpg_resized 

 
Aten was the ancient Egyptian name for the Sun disk, venerated during the Armana period of the 18th Dynasty, under the reign of the Pharaoh Akhenaten – the actual time when the ancient Egyptian arched harp preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, may last have been played...

08/02/2011
Michael Levy

Story

Track 1 "Ancient Harps of Kemet", from my EP album, "The Ancient Egyptian Harp".

This piece is an original composition based upon an actual ancient Egyptian scale. Although the ancient Egyptians did not have any form of written musical notation, they did have an ancient form of musical notation now known as chironomy, whereby specific hand gestures represented specific changes in the pitch of a melody. The minor pentatonic scale on which this composition is based, was deciphered from ancient Egyptian chironomy gestures, by the late Professor Hans Hickmann of the Museum in Cairo.

Incredibly, along with remnants of the actual ancient Egyptian language, chironomy is still practiced today in the Coptic Church – an incredible musical legacy, maybe dating back some 5000 years!

In the title of this track, “Kemet” is the transliteration (k.mt) of the actual ancient Egyptian word for the land of Egypt. “k.mt” actually translates as “Black Land” – which to the ancient Egyptians, meant fertility: referring to the colour of the fertile black soil deposited each season by the Nile floods.

This album features original composition in ancient musical modes, an improvisation on an ancient Egyptian scale & Egyptian folk music arranged for archaic skin-membrane arched harp - an instrument almost identical to the ornate arched harps played during the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt, some 3500 years ago... 

Michael Levy
12/14/2011

Story

"The Tablets of Moses" - Track 5, "King David's Harp".

This track is my arrangement for a modern evocation of the 10-string Biblical lyre of King David, (known in Hebrew as the 'Kinnor'), of an exhilarating melody from the traditional Jewish Klezmer instrumental repertoire, "Noch Havdallah"

According to the research of the late Suzanne Haik Vantoura, the musical modes/scales heard in Jewish music today, can be traced back in time almost 3000 years, to the biblical times of King David...



10/17/2008
Michael Levy

Story

"The Music of Moses" can be heard on track 1 of my album, "King David's Lyre; Echoes of Ancient Israel":

This improvisation on a 3500 year old ancient Egyptian scale, was my attempt to convey the mystical, ancient connection between the ancient Hebrews and the ancient Egyptians. This minor pentatonic scale was deciphered by late professor Hans Hickmann of the museum in Cairo.

Michael Levy
10/17/2008
Traditional Jewish Sacred Melody

Story

Track 3 from my album, "King David's Lyre; Echoes of Ancient Israel"...

This piece is my arrangement of a beautiful traditional Jewish sacred melody, (translation, "Our Father, Our King") traditionally sang at Yom Kippur, arranged for an evocation of the 10-string Biblical Lyre of the Levites, known as the Kinnor: 

Michael Levy
03/11/2010
Ancient Babylonian Jewish Wedding Music

Story

Track 10, the ancient Babylonian Jewish Wedding Song "Ashir Shirim", from my album, "The Ancient Biblical Lyre".

This traditional ancient melody is arranged here, on an evocation of the ancient Biblical "Nevel" Lyre  - one of  the lyres once played by the Levites in the Temple of Jerusalem to accompany the singing of the Levitical Choir...

 The translation of the song is:

 "I will sing songs to God at the coming of the redeemer.This terrified,innocent & fair daughter - hurry to redeem her now.Elijah will come & she will be redeemed"

The traditional music of the Babylonian Jews is unique, as it may well be the "Invisible Baggage" of the Jews who were sent into exile there, after the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadrezzar II, in 586 BCE!

These melodies therefore, may just possibly be representative of the very earliest aural memory of Jewish music, ever - from the almost Legendary Era of the Ark of the Covenant & King Solomon's Temple...


04/10/2010
Michael Levy

Story

"Hymn To Zeus" - Track 3, "Apollo's Lyre".

This piece is in the distinctively intense ancient Greek Dorian Mode:

09/24/2010
Michael Levy

Story

Track 6, "Ancient Visions - New Composition For An Ancient Lyre":

Michael Levy & Wolfgang Schweizer
04/01/2011

Story

I have recently had the pleasure of collaborating with the amazing US-based contemporary artist, Wolfgang Schweizer - we have started an exciting new joint project, featuring a new series of Wolfgang's paintings, inspired by my Lyre Music!

 

Wolfgang modifies the Lyre music with haunting synthesized effects, before painting incredible art, directly inspired by the music - it is now possible to literally "see" what my music sounds like! Here is the painting Wolfgang created, to this joint composition featuring my Lyre & Wolfgang's Syntheizer, "Joseph in Egypt"...

 

joseph_in_egypt_by_musicandpaintings-d3ceglx.jpg_resized

Both a print of this incredible, hypnotizing painting, complete with an MP3 of "Joseph in Egypt" which inspired the painting, are available for purchase from:

 

http://music-and-paintings.blogspot.com 

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