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Melodies for the Orphic Hymns?

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Melodies for the Orphic Hymns?

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:39 pm

Are there traditional melodies to sing the hymns (Thomas Taylor's translation) to, or do you just pick the melodies you like best? If the latter, do you have any suggestions for us people who aren't gifted in music composition? Laughing I've just been reciting the hymns as poems, and that makes it seem a bit monotonous to me.

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Re: Melodies for the Orphic Hymns?

Post  Erodius on Sun Jun 02, 2013 9:39 pm

They are poems Wink — in the Classical world, there was no distinction between a poem and a song. In both Latin and Greek, the terminology for types of song and poetry is the same. Poems were songs — meant to be sung/recited, not read silently. Scholars believe that silent reading did not really become a 'thing' until the Middle Ages.

In English, at least, we recite them. But the Taylor translation is quite melodic and poetic — not at all monotonous.

However, I'm posting here a link to an album recording of a few of the Hymns as sung in Greek:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/thyepoleo-orphic-mysterial/id539286761


In all actuality, however, ancient hymns and lyric poetry would have been recited/chanted to the accompaniment of some sort of instrumentation — often to the lyre — the tune often being improvised on the spot from a set of customary musical elements, which themselves sound a little odd to modern ears.

For an interesting example of the difference between ancient and modern music, I would recommend listening to the Oxyrhynchus Hymn, which is the earliest written Christian hymn we have discovered. It sounds nothing whatsoever like what we think of today as a church hymn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLYfLEZW3bc


Personally, I would describe the biggest difference between ancient and modern Western music as that ancient music tends to have what to us sounds like a relatively random sequence of notes — it's a lot more meandering, and less repetitive/patterned.

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-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
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Re: Melodies for the Orphic Hymns?

Post  Callisto on Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:49 pm

Icarus wrote:Are there traditional melodies to sing the hymns (Thomas Taylor's translation) to, or do you just pick the melodies you like best? If the latter, do you have any suggestions for us people who aren't gifted in music composition? Laughing I've just been reciting the hymns as poems, and that makes it seem a bit monotonous to me.

You might be interested in Daemonia Nymphe. They're a band of musicians who set Orphic and Homeric hymn to original music influenced by ancient Greek music, performed on such instruments such as the lyre, kithara and double flute. The hymns are in Greek but if you're looking for musical inspiration you might be able to use the music for a guide.

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Re: Melodies for the Orphic Hymns?

Post  Erodius on Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:16 pm

If you are interested in the Orphic genre specifically, you may also want to take a look at the musical compositions of Yannis Markopoulos. His album "The Liturgy of Orpheus" is stunning, and is available on iTunes as well.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Melodies for the Orphic Hymns?

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:21 pm

Thank you both for your suggestions Smile I've got several things to go searching for, now Laughing

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Re: Melodies for the Orphic Hymns?

Post  DavidMcCann on Fri Dec 12, 2014 3:43 pm

On the principle of better late than never, I thought I'd add to this old thread. I know of two English hymn tunes that fit Taylor's hymns (he used an unusual metre)
Woodlands
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43wnrzFb73c
Eventide
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7OS6m5K1Mg

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