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Image provided by Jeanne Reames

By Gabriel Escalera

Music From Centuries Ago

April 17th, 2023

String and double-reed instruments have been in our world for a long time. Bettina Joy de Guzman is a multi-instrumental and classicist who has composed music with replicas of ancient instruments and poetry.

This Wednesday, April 19 at the Hanscom Park United Methodist Church, de Guzman presents the “Hearing Ancient Greece” concert.

There is no specific information on how the audience reacted to this music at that time, but de Guzman talks about the texts that have been found of the music that was played then.

“Reaching back to something like Eliot, nobody knows how the audience reacted then, we can only guess so we only say, this is what the text is doing, and we have to wonder how they were reacting,” says de Guzman

There are some ancient Greek musical notations from the first and second centuries BC.

“But let’s just look at it and see how we react to it, and this is the music that I put with it, honoring the kinds of music that usually was playing around this time. Since we have that musical notation, I can hope that some of those fragments that we have, apply backward hopefully, maybe not thought,” says de Guzman

To better understand the interpretations of the music of that time, De Guzman along with the UNO ancient Mediterranean studies program will have a lecture on April 18 at CEC Rooms 205 and 209.

“I will be talking about them, in terms of what we are receiving so it is reception, like when we hear it performed, what likely are we getting from it, but I tried to put it also in context, what the audience perhaps was hearing at the time and then really looking at the passages themselves,” says de Guzman.

Lamenting Women, Voices of War’s Victims” emphasizes the importance of music in the ancient world.

“As much as historians would like to guess, we can only imagine, and we can only try to recreate their world, but it is difficult. Same with re-contracting their music and their rhythms, we do our best and neither of those (we) have music attached but (we) have rhythms and we know which instruments they were using, and we know the descriptions of the sounds and how audiences seem to have reacted to Aeschylus’s Suppliants or at least the kinds of responses generally when choruses are sung,” says de Guzman


For more information about the lecture and concert, you can contact the UNO Ancient Mediterranean Studies program.