Thank you, Gillian, for bringing this article to my attention! It’s such a lovely summary of ways that music was used in Ancient times. I would add to it the incredible power of poetry, as well. So many Ancient myths and history came to us via the bards, who sang their thousand plus lines of poetry as they traveled around the world. The combination of music and poetry preserved stories in ways that fickle minds and whisper down the alley legends might have lost.
Jill Mattson ~ Things Ancient People Did with Music
Jill’s Wings Of Light May 31 2013
Here are some more utterly fascinating things that people in ancient history have done with music for very specific purposes.
Music was believed to be a force to alter civilizations. Several years before the American Revolution, patriotic and freedom songs were popular. The songs were designed to encourage young men to fight and go to war. American Indians also used “war” dances to strengthen warriors “mettle” and aggression. In ancient Hindu history, terrifying sounds were used to unnerve and scare enemies.
In the Bible, David played the harp to lift Saul’s depression. Egyptian papyri, over 2,600 years old, refer to incantations as cures for infertility and rheumatic pain.
The ancient Greeks believed music had the power to heal the body and soul. They used the flute and the lyre for gout and sciatica. Paeans were a classification of ancient Greek songs that cured specific illnesses. For example, when the plague hit ancient Greece, they played a specific song with the frequencies and rhythmic patterns thought to halt the illness. There is a Greek saying, “Men have a song, as a physician for pain.”
It is said that that Alexander the Great had his sanity restored by music played on the lyre. The Greek philosophers took people with mental health issues to concerts for therapy. Pythagoras used melodies and rhythms to cure diseases of the body and mind.
The ancient Egyptians wrote musical notes and letters on paper and the ink-like substance dissolved in water. They drank the water to heal certain ailments. They believed that the vibrations created by shapes and words created a subtle energy, that when ingested, were healing and enlightening. These ideas remind of Masuro Emoto’s work, showing freezing water affected by positive words produced pleasing and beautiful shapes. Angry words created lopsided and distorted patterns.
Jill Mattson ~ Jill’s Wings Of Light newsletter