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The Delphic Paeans of Athenaios and Limenios between Old and New Music

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image of Greek and Roman Musical Studies

Currently, there are only 64 extant fragments of ancient Greek music, of which the bulk belongs to imperial times. Thus, the musical evidence for ‘New Music’, which had its climax in the second half of the 5th century, is limited. Nevertheless, one important observation is possible: fragments from classical times, which belong to antistrophic compositions, use melodies which do not mirror the prosody of the texts and simply repeat the melody of the strophe in the antistrophe. But all fragments in astrophic form have melodies which follow the prosody of the respective texts closely. This overturn is connected with Melanippides, who in the dithyramb replaced the strophic form with the free astrophic form, to the advantage of musical mimesis. Moreover, the polemics of Old Comedy provide evidence for melodic extravagances which depict highlights of the text. The Delphic Paeans are the heirs to these novelties.

Affiliations: 1: University of Erlangen


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