From the recording An Ancient Lyre

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"Hymn to the Muse" (2nd Century CE) - Ancient Greek Musical Fragment

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"Hymn to the Muse" - a hauntingly beautiful surviving fragment of the mostly lost music of ancient Greece. This piece was written almost 2000 years ago, by Mesomedes of Crete...

Mesomedes of Crete was a Greek lyric poet and composer of the early 2nd century AD. More information can be found at:

It is written in the ancient Greek "Dorian" mode; E-E on the white note of the piano - not to be confused with the MEDIEVAL "Dorian" mode, which was D-D! Due to a misinterpretation of the Latin texts of Boethius, medieval modes were given the wrong Greek names! For the CORRECT names of the ORIGINAL ancient Greek modes, see:

For what Plato & Aristotle themselves had this to say about these ancient musical modes, please see this fascinating link:

The most challenging aspect of playing this piece, is attempting to play the many accidentals required by the melody - on a DIATONICALLY tuned lyre...WITHOUT the aid of any fancy sharpening pedals, which are to be found on almost all modern harps!

According to the musicologist Curt Sachs, the ancient Greeks managed to get around this by a technique I have been working on, called "finger-stopping" - an accidental can be played, by increasing the pitch of a lyre string by a semitone; this is achieved by pressing the string (about a centimeter in from the tuning peg), with a finger of the left hand which shortens its vibrating length, and therefore increases the pitch of the note the string produces.

The translation of the words to this ancient Greek song are as follows:

'Sing for me, dear Muse, begin my tuneful strain; a breeze blow from your groves to stir my listless brain...Skillful Calliope, leader of the delightful Muses, and you, skillful priest of our rites, son of Leto, Paean of Delos, be at my side'. (translation by J. G. Landels).