What Music Was Played in Ancient Greece?

Music has been an integral part of human culture since the beginning of time. Ancient Greece, known for its rich history and cultural heritage, also had a deep-rooted tradition of music.

The Greeks not only enjoyed music but also considered it to be an important aspect of their daily lives. In this article, we will explore the types of music that were played in Ancient Greece.

Music in Ancient Greece

Music played a vital role in Ancient Greek society. It was believed that music had the power to influence an individual’s emotions and behavior. As a result, music was an essential component of various events such as weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies.

The Types of Music

The Greeks had several types of music that they enjoyed such as:

  • Epitaphios logos:
  • This type of music was played during funerals to honor the deceased.

  • Dithyrambs:
  • Dithyrambs were hymns sung in praise of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility.

  • Hymns:
  • Hymns were songs sung to honor various gods and goddesses such as Apollo, Aphrodite, and Zeus.

  • Odes:
  • Odes were songs sung at public events such as athletic competitions and festivals.

  • Troparion:
  • Troparion was a type of Byzantine chant that evolved from the ancient Greek religious hymns.

The Instruments Used

The Greeks had several musical instruments that they used to accompany their music such as:

  • Aulos:
  • The Aulos was a double-reed instrument that was similar to the modern-day oboe.

  • Lyre:
  • The Lyre was a stringed instrument that had a U-shaped frame. It was played using a plectrum or plucked with the fingers.

  • Kithara:
  • The Kithara was a larger version of the Lyre and had seven strings. It was often played during public events.

  • Pan Pipes:
  • Pan Pipes were a set of pipes that were played simultaneously by blowing across them.

    The Musicians

    Musicians, known as ‘auletes,’ played an important role in Ancient Greek music. They were highly respected and often performed at public events and religious ceremonies. Some famous musicians from Ancient Greece include Terpander, who is known for his contributions to the development of Spartan music, and Timotheus, who is credited with inventing the seven-stringed Lyre.


    In conclusion, music was an integral part of Ancient Greek culture. The Greeks enjoyed several types of music such as hymns, dithyrambs, and odes.

    They also had several musical instruments such as the Aulos, Lyre, Kithara, and Pan Pipes. Musicians played an important role in Ancient Greek society and were highly respected for their contributions to the development of music. Today, we can still see the influence of Ancient Greek music in modern-day music genres such as classical music and opera.