Greco-Latin Musical Traditions: Musical Evolution of West

  January 04, 2021   Read time 1 min
Greco-Latin Musical Traditions: Musical Evolution of West
Greece and Latin world are two key sources of the western culture and this is also the case with the music. Many key events occurred in the world thanks to the cultural activities of the Greeks and Latin world.

Greeks and Romans had but two different degrees of long and short notes, and even the old lozenge and square characters still used in the Canto Fermo of the Romish church, under the denomination of Gregorian notes, are but of two kinds: the time of these may, indeed, have been accelerated or retarded, but still the same proportion must have been preserved between them ; and all their variety must have arisen from different combinations of these two kinds of notes, such as any two of ours could afford : as semibreves and minims, minims and crotchets, or crotchets and quavers. This accounts for the facility with which even the common people of Greece could discover the mistakes, if any were committed, in the length and shortness of the syllables, both with respect to the poetry, and the music ; a point of history in which all writers agree ; and this seems to confirm what has been already said in the fifth section: that besides the intervals peculiar to the melody, Rhythm, or time, must have contributed to characterize the modes, though it has no kind of connection with our flat and sharp keys; and this gives an idea quite different from what our modern modes, taken as keys, and our music, in general, furnish. Tartini* upon this subject says, that we make the prosody subservient to the music, not the music to the prosody ; and adds, "that as by the laws prescribed to the ancient musicians, they were obliged to preserve rigorously in their music the quantity of syllables, it was impossible to protract a vowel, in singing, beyond the time which belonged to a syllable: we, on the contrary, prolong the vowels through many bars, though in reading they are oftentimes short."

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