Roman music
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Roman music. Mini-lesson for schools. How do you think you played this instrument? What do you think it’s made of?. Which part of an instrument do you think these are?. They are mouthpieces. You blow down them. What is unusual about how this young man is playing his trumpet?.

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Roman music

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Roman music

Roman music

Mini-lesson for schools


Roman music

How do you think you played this instrument?

What do you think it’s made of?


Roman music

Which part of an instrument do you think these are?

They are mouthpieces.

You blow down them.


Roman music

What is unusual about how this young man is playing his trumpet?

He is blowing through the side instead of down the end.

This little statue and the trumpet and mouthpieces are made of a metal called bronze.


Roman music

Here are some other wind instruments.

What modern instrument do you think they are like?


Roman music

Here’s a carving of someone playing them.

You can see that you blew down them both at the same time.

They probably had a reed in them.

The closest modern instrument is probably an oboe.


Roman music

This figure of a Roman god is holding another type of instrument. It is named after the god: he is Pan.

They are Pan pipes. Here are some from Papua New Guinea which is in the Pacific Ocean. They were made in the 1800s. They work the same way as the Roman ones.

The Roman word for Pan pipes was ‘syrinx’. This is the name of somebody in a Greek myth. See if you can find out more about her.


Roman music

How do you think you played these instruments?

Here’s a clue:

They always come in pairs and they are made of metal.


Roman music

Here’s a carving of someone playing them.

Were you right?

They are small cymbals.


Roman music

Here is a Roman statue of someone playing castanets.


Roman music

What is this woman playing?

It is a drum – a bit like a tambourine.

The traditional Irish drum called a bodhran is very similar.


Roman music

This is an Egyptian instrument that was also used by the Romans.

It was usually only used in religious ceremonies.

How do you think you played it?

You played it by shaking it.

It is called a sistrum.


Roman music

Wind instruments Percussion instruments

What sort of instrument have we not seen so far?

We have not seen any stringed instruments.

Did the Romans have stringed instruments? Look at the next slide and see what you think.


Roman music

Yes, they did.

The woman in this picture is playing a lyre.


Roman music

Here are two more pictures of lyres.

You can see that there were small lyres and large lyres.

How do you think they sounded different?


Roman music

Finally, here are two sides of a little figure showing someone sitting, playing an instrument. Unfortunately the person’s head has broken off.

What instrument do you think it is?

Clue: lots of Christian churches have them and there’s a huge one in the Albert Hall in London.


Roman music

Here’s another organ carved on a gemstone.

The Romans used water to pump the air through the pipes.

It is an organ – a bit like this one, but much smaller:

Photo: Jim Linwood (flickr.com/brighton/3426313664)


Roman music

Now you have finished…

Find out more about the Romans on the Young Explorers pages: britishmuseum.org/explore/young_explorers1.aspx

There are lots more Roman objects on the British Museum website: britishmuseum.org/explore.aspx


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