What Popular Music Was Like in Ancient Rome

Garrett Ryan of toldinstone, who previously spoke about the design of public latrines in Ancient Rome, took a look at what popular music was like in the same time period.

Ryan explained what instruments were used during public shows, what the theaters looked like, and who sat in the audience. He also talked about the music during dramatic readings, comedies, pantomimes, and street performances. The most important of these musicians were the soloists, the analogous rock stars of Roman times.

Roman concerts were for famous soloists. These men toured the empire demanding huge fees and filling theaters wherever they went. their arrogance was legendary. One singer refused to perform for the Emperor Augustus simply because he didn’t feel like it. But the best performers inspired something, driving aristocratic ladies to fight for cast off plectrums and liar strings.

Somber performances also took place during religious rituals, sacrifices, gladiatorial events, organized hunts, and executions.

Music in fact was everywhere in Ancient Rome. It was an integral part of religious rituals since every sacrifice had to be accompanied by the trilling of pipes played by members of a specialized guild. Hymns honoring the gods were sung at festivals, sometimes by choirs of boys and girls from elite Roman families, sacred processions filled the streets with a clamor of pipes horns, and drums.

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