All in favor of the Aulos

Ancient Greeks believed music to be the work of the gods. Not only did Greeks acknowledge Apollo, son of Zeus and Leto, to be the god of music (in addition to being god of light and sun, truth, prophecy, healing, plague and poetry–busy guy), but there were also goddesses known as the Muses (the mousai), who inspired the creativity of all human music-makers; the word “music” even comes from them.

We don’t know whether or not Apollo was a divine musician–his greatest hits album, released only on 8-track, has long been lost–but we do know human Greeks made music an essential part of their theatrical presentations and religious observances. In ancient Greece, music was an essential part of classical education, at least for boys, who started their musical instruction at the age of six. Girls picked up music along the way and joined boys in mixed-gender choruses that performed at spiritual ceremonies and public events. Ancient Greek instruments played instruments like a plucked string instrument known as the pandura, a special kind of lyre called the kithara–the word “guitar” derived from “kithara” — and the aulos, a wind instrument with two reeds. In this video watch a modern performance of the aulos.