VALERIA FORTUNATA and LINUS SUPERBUS play ROMAN MUSIC as it probably was! We cannot really use the word "exactly" since very little is known about the sort of music that would have been familiar to Roman ears. Merely playing "later" or "modern-sounding" music on re-constructed instruments seems pointless, so we have laboured hard to produce a "likely" Roman Musical Sound! David Marshall was also a member of the band before his untimely death in 2002.
Our Roman Music has been used in several folms and TV programmes:
We provided help with the soundtrack for the motion picture The Gospel Of John (www.gospelofjohnthefilm.com). Spectator magazine ran an article explaining our involvement - "Seeking to reflect the Roman influence on the period that the film depicts, Stephen Cera and Jeff Danna (Music Supervisor and Composer for the film) discovered Praecones Britanniae, a Cambridgeshire, U.K., group specializing in the music of Roman times. The pair duly incorporated the group into the soundtrack.".
We also provided Aulos music for the BBC for their programme on The First Olympians.
Here are short extracts, recorded as part of the CD. Important Note: In order that the samples download reasonably quickly, we have had to compromise and sacrifice some sound quality. Therefore, the samples are only 8 bit and do not convey the true sound quality of the instruments, but do give a good indication of the sound of each.
LEGIO HISPANA (music to depict lXth. Legion moving north across Hadrian's Wall to do battle. Legend has it that the legion was never seen again! The instruments heard are - Tuba, Tympana & Utriculus) - Click here for the sound sample - (file name legiohispana.wav - file size 2.3 Meg)
BACCHANALIA (ASKAULES - the bagpipe was known to The Ancient World, there being literary references also to a Greek version called - Askaules. The pipe heard here uses primitive, all single, reeds. Accompanying instruments are Tympana and Cymbalum.) Click here for the sound sample - (file name - askaules.mp3 - file size 782K)
Download Sound Sample - Double Aulos with 2 Tubae and Tympana playing part of a Pompa (processional piece) - (252K - file name "PompaBritannia.mp3")
Download Sound Sample - Fistulae with Lyra and Cymbalum - (378K - file name "tepidarium.mp3")
Download Sound Sample - Two Corna with Tympanum - (252K - file name "GloriaRomanorum.mp3")
THESE TRACKS (AND MANY OTHERS) CAN BE HEARD IN FULL ON THE ROMAN MUSIC CD.
THE GROUP NAME, which
translates as - "Heralds of the British Province" - suggests a liking
for fanfaring, pomp and the martial side of music. This arose from a
need to provide appropriate accompaniment for Gladatorial Combat - Pompae
(ceremonial processionals) - Battle Re-enactment and Festive occasions.
For these, the louder instruments are needed - TUBAE (trumpets) - BUCINA
or CORNU (large circular war trumpet/horn) and Utriculus (Bagpipe).
All the evidence suggests that the Romans, like us, needed and used
plenty of loud music as a backdrop for these type of events. The majestic
sound of Tubae rising above the roar of the mob for gladatorial combat
is something quite special - evocative sounds which dispel the centuries
in an instant!
Music For Historical Productions -The band are also available for media work - for more information click here.
ROMAN REED INSTRUMENTS
THE (DOUBLE) AULOS
The Double Aulos is an ancient reed instrument using double (oboe-type) reeds within a conical bore. As a result, it is quite loud and strident with excellent carrying power.
The Double Aulos was known to Ancient Greeks and Romans alike and seems to have been one of their most popular reed instruments - it appears time and time again in carvings and paintings, etc. There is even reference to the Emperor Nero playing it both as a reed instrument directly from the mouth as well as connected to "the leather" as a double-chantered bagpipe!
There was also a "single pipe" Aulos as well as the more common "doubled-piped" version.
It is not possible to know precisely the nature of the music played on the Aulos. There is little doubt though, that there were considerable variations between instruments as some sources show the Aulos being played with the hands occupying the same positions on both pipes - others where one hand is set lower. Clearly, there were different Auloi (plural of the word) offering a range of tunings and with them, a variety of musical textures and options.
It has to be said that almost nothing is known about Roman Music but the scale provided does bring a "likely tonality" to the instrument. If you go along with its "in-built" tuning, the sound is compulsively ancient and striking!
THE PHRYGIAN TIBIA
This uses a "single" reed (forerunner of the type used on the clarinet) for sound generation. At the pitch here, the sound is warm and "buzzy" - even exotic to some ears! The animal horn at the lower end amplifies the sound and as such, the instrument is very close to the later Hornpipe - except that there is no open-ended mouthpiece through which to blow the reed.
Images of this Phrygian version of the Tibia with its curved end bell have been found amongst the carving on Roman sarcophagus lids.
As already mentioned, there is no mouthpiece or windcap, so the protruding section of the reed at the very top has to be encapsulated within the mouth cavity. The lips are pressed against the top rim for support when blowing. There is no direct contact with the reed during playing.
Download Sound Sample of Phrygian Tibia - Phrygian Tibia Sound Sample - Click Here - (475K - file name "copa.mp3")
The sound sample uses a melody based around the 4th finger (E flat) but music using other keynote-based tunes also works well - in particular, those on 5 fingers.
|Clearly too, there were smaller, more domestic occasions where music
of a different nature would have been heard from instruments such as Lyra
(Lyre) and Fistula Obliqua (flute) or, as shown in this Roman floor mosaic
(pic left), Tibiae (double reedpipes) - Tympanum (tambourine-like drum) and
Cymbalum (small bronze cymbals giving a ringing sound)
From sources such as the mosaic above, also from carvings, paintings and surviving instruments, we have been able to gain a good indication of the sort of sounds that were familiar. The images also offer pointers as to their probable use as well as likely combinations of instruments.
To see more Roman musical Instruments see our Roman Reeds page and our Gladiator Combat page.
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