Old Skool Kool

April 21, 2016 at 10:30 am

Today we’re going old school. And I’m talking serious old school – as in, seriously old.

The Seikilos Epitaph is the oldest surviving complete musical composition, dating somewhere between 200 BC to 100 AD. Certainly, humans were making music for at least 40,000 years, and writing it down for at least 4,000, but this is the most complete thing we’ve managed to find so far. Despite the fact that it’s a very short, simple song, there are some scholarly arguments about how it’s supposed to sound. The ancient Greeks used a variety of modes and tunings, but since they weren’t able to record sound, we can only take an educated guess at how it should sound.

Oddly fitting are the lyrics to this ancient piece – one can wonder what Seikilos would say if he knew his song was so famous 2,000 years later.

While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands an end.

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