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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Mini-lesson for schools
What do you think it’s made of?
They are mouthpieces.
You blow down them.
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.
What modern instrument do you think they are like?
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.
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.
Here’s a clue:
They always come in pairs and they are made of metal.
Were you right?
They are small cymbals.
It is a drum – a bit like a tambourine.
The traditional Irish drum called a bodhran is very similar.
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.
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.
The woman in this picture is playing a lyre.
You can see that there were small lyres and large lyres.
How do you think they sounded different?
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.
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)
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