Euterpe 2018 preparation

This page contains experiments in sound and notation. We are sharing these experiments so that 1) participants can prepare for the 1st Euterpe doublepipe school, and 2) scholars can send us feedback before rehearsals begin on 3 May. After the scores have been road-tested at the school, they will be revised and published on the website of the European Music Archaeology Project, together with videos and audio recordings made during Euterpe 2018.

Please use this SoundCloud playlist to download the MP3s and the links below to print the scores. They are all snapshots of work in progress. Your critical feedback is most welcome. How can we make these performing materials better?

Note to participants: Please bring a music stand! Callum and I will be helping you write your parts into the blank staves, using these pieces as vehicles for practising. The notations we generate will be collected as starting points for future schools. No-one should do all 4 pieces. Excuse yourself from at least one and use its rehearsal slots to practise, fix reeds (with Callum or Marco), or relax. In the pieces you choose to rehearse, you have the option of singing or playing or both.

DAGM = Documents of Ancient Greek Music: The Extant Melodies and Fragments edited and transcribed with commentary by Egert Pohlmann and Martin L. West (Oxford University Press, 2001)

Pindar’s 12th Pythian Ode (on the invention of the aulos)

Score for chorus and Poseidonia aulos corresponding to this January 2018 recording with Stef Conner.
Enharmonic genus. ‘Dorian’ and ‘Mixolydian’ Aristides scales. Rhythm and pitch contour informed by the ancient Greek words

Two Anonymous “Bellermann” Exercises (DAGM 37 & 35)

Score with vocables prepared by Stefan Hagel 
Diatonic genus. Ancient notation and vocables edited by Stefan Hagel for the 4th Meeting of the Workshop of Dionysus (May 2017)

Euripides Orestes Chorus (DAGM 3)

Score for chorus and Pydna aulos
Enharmonic genus. ‘Phrygian’ Aristides scale. Melody 27% ancient notation, 73% reconstruction by Armand D’Angour

Athenaios Paean (DAGM 20)

Score for chorus at a pitch for Louvre aulos
Section 1: spondeion scale. Section 2: chromatic genus, modulating style. Section 3: diatonic genus. Melody 82% ancient notation, 18% reconstruction by Stefan Hagel


We are not attempting to produce definitive texts or performances. Please treat the draft scores above as members of evolving families of ‘indefinite’ performing materials; part of a rich ecology; starting points for new music and for doublepipe education. The ensemble arrangements we will create in Tarquinia next weekend will be tailored to suit everyone’s individual playing abilities, bringing together a glorious mixture of doublepipes.

With 20 participants, mostly beginners, we are not in the business of scholarly reconstruction: our music-making will accommodate everyone’s individual level and all the different doublepipes that we have. This means mixing up historical periods. We will be forming small ensembles dictated by the temperamental tuning of the pipes we want to play. The principle is to compose simple exercises that sound good and stretch us gently in the direction of becoming better players. It just happens that some of these exercises will be integrated into a final performance: this serves as a stimulus to practise and provides a holistic learning experience, touching every aspect of being a doublepiper.

Where ancient evidence is contradicted, we will make this clear and give reasons. For example, I have transposed the Athenaios paean down a minor 3rd to suit the Louvre aulos. I don’t believe it was performed at this pitch in 128/7 BCE, or that the Louvre aulos is the right type of aulos. We are using this pitch at Euterpe 2018 because: 1) we don’t have instruments at the original pitch, 2) it makes it easier for all participants to sing (not too high or too low); and 3) actively performing this piece without physical strain makes us more receptive to ancient Greek musical conceptions and idioms – we are better able to internalise an alien style when we are less stressed. The Athenaios is the best introduction to ancient Greek music that we have, lets enjoy it!

All the scores use sounding pitch, rather than the transposing pitch used in scholarly materials to date, for the following reasons:

  1. Ease collaborating with other musicians (particularly singers) – I see no sense in preparing scores for voice and aulos in which the vocal part is in a different key to the aulos part. This would prevent singers from reading the harmony, which is helpful both for pitching and for tuning.
  2. Ease collaborating with composers and scholars who ask you what notes you can play. As French horn players know, composers tend to get transposing instruments wrong even when textbooks are clear and numerous (neither of which is the case for doublepipes). Transposing introduces hazards which mean significant time is wasted as a result of mistakes and misunderstandings.
  3. Ease producing scores – when engraving software transposes a part, you loose the manual formatting. This can represent hours of work, getting the spacing to look good.  Even if the transpose button didn’t throw things awry, having to produce two scores (one in concert pitch for the singer/director and one transposed for the aulos player, with cues transposed) represents significantly more work. This is a waste of money and time.
  4. If all doublepipes behaved like the Louvre, but in different keys, then there would be a case for treating the aulos as a transposing instrument. But they don’t. Greek and Roman finds span a 700-year period and are significantly different in their tonal behaviour. Sometimes the pipes are a tone apart, sometimes a 4th, sometimes in unison. Without a fixed standard, transposition offers no practical advantage to the modern aulete, as it does to the clarinettist or would have done to the ancient aulete who played instruments from a single time and place.

Rather than making life difficult for our colleagues – singers, lyre players and composers – I think it is wiser for the doublepipe community to learn to read at pitch. The only slight exception I make to this is in scores for the Pydna/Poseidonia aulos: these instruments behave almost identically and sound only a semitone apart, so I split the difference and write at a pitch in between. Depending on reeds, the Poseidonia sounds about a quarter tone higher, the Pydna a quarter tone lower than written.

With the Athenaios, note that we are doing Stefan’s version, not Armand’s – there are major differences in the melody and in the pronunciation. Stefan’s view is that the pronunciation would have been old-fashioned, which makes life easier for us as we can use the same pronunciation rules in all three songs: Pindar, Euripides and Athenaios.

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