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 Post subject: Roman music
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:23 pm 
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Writing "Ancient Roman" music is problematic because the Romans left us very little notated music. The surviving music uses a neumatic, or differential, system of notation, in which only changes in pitch relative to the previous note are represented, rather than absolute pitches. Scholars can get a general sense of the shapes of Roman melodies, although they are unsure which side of the page is the top. Rhythms are unclear.

While Coptic hymns can serve as a close approximation of ancient Egyptian music, early Catholic hymns cannot be used to approximate Roman music. The early Christians (being an oppressed minority) sought to differentiate their music from that of the Romans. However, this does suggest that four measure phrases, the scales common in Gregorian chant, and other Christian musical devices be avoided for a more authentic sound.

As in most cultures, vocal music was very common. And in this case we know the language. Furthermore, there is a wealth of Latin poetry. So vocal music using Latin texts is a possibility.
The poet Ovid's Fasti (Festivals) can be found in Latin here: http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/ovid/ovid.fasti4.shtml, and in English here: http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/Fastihome.htm.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:14 pm 
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For the Pompeii music I decided on an ensemble typical in the Roman Empire: two flutes, kithara, organ, and high metallic pitched percussion. The three loops use different combinations of these instruments.

Given the immense influence of Greek culture on the Romans, it seems likely that Roman music would make use of tetrachords. Surviving instruments support this, as they are often tuned to common tetrachords. (The kithara usually had eight strings, tuned to a tetrachord in two octaves). In this case I used the notes E F# G and A.

It is believed that Roman flautists played in unison or parallel harmony (often one player performed simultaneously on two flutes or reeds). Since -- outside of tonal theory -- fourths, fifths, and octaves are the most consonant intervals, I have written the flute parts in parallel 4ths and 5ths, allowing them to go beyond the E-A tetrachord.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:39 pm 
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At this stage there are no agents for the player to interact with in the virtual theatre district, so the only states for the music to respond to are time and location. There are three pieces of music, one slow and ambient, and two with more rhythmic activity. The ambient music should be the default, playing at the beginning* and returning regularly. The more active pieces can appear when the viewer enters a new significant or interesting space, and eventually fade back into the ambient music after a period of time in the same area. If the player stops moving, or remains in one section for a long time, the ambient track should fade out entirely, or at least to half volume.

*It should be noted that the ambient layer is the least historically accurate, as the effects of modern production are especially apparent in the reverb.


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