What Instrument Did Ancient Greece Play?

Ancient Greece is well-known for its rich cultural heritage that includes art, philosophy, and music. Music played a significant role in the lives of ancient Greeks.

It was an integral part of religious ceremonies, festivals, and other social events. The ancient Greeks had a variety of musical instruments that were widely used to create beautiful melodies that are still revered today.

Ancient Greek Musical Instruments

The ancient Greeks had an impressive array of musical instruments that were used for different purposes. These instruments can be broadly categorized into three groups: stringed instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments.

Stringed Instruments

Stringed instruments were the most popular type of musical instrument in ancient Greece. They comprised lyres, kitharas, harps, and lutes.

The lyre was perhaps the most iconic instrument of ancient Greece. It had a U-shaped body with two curved arms and strings stretching from one arm to the other. The kithara was another popular stringed instrument that was similar to the lyre but had a larger body and more strings.

Wind Instruments

Wind instruments were also widely used in ancient Greece. They included flutes (auloi), trumpets (salpinx), and panpipes (syrinx).

The aulos was a double-pipe wind instrument with reeds at the top that vibrated when air was blown through them. The salpinx was used primarily for military purposes to signal troops during battles.

Percussion Instruments

Percussion instruments were used to create rhythm in music. They included drums (tympanon), cymbals (kymbala), and castanets (krotala). The tympanon was a large drum made from animal skin stretched over a wooden frame.

Music in Ancient Greek Society

Music played an essential role in ancient Greek society. It was used to entertain people at social events, religious ceremonies, and festivals. Music was also believed to have healing properties and was used to treat various ailments.

The ancient Greeks had a deep appreciation for music and believed that it had the power to transform people’s emotions and attitudes. They believed that music could inspire courage in soldiers, enhance the beauty of poetry, and stimulate intellectual thought.


In conclusion, the ancient Greeks had a rich tradition of music that was reflected in their musical instruments and cultural practices. Their music continues to inspire musicians today, with many modern musicians drawing inspiration from ancient Greek melodies and harmonies. The legacy of ancient Greek music lives on as a testament to the enduring power of art and culture.