The Roots Ancient Roman Music: From Religious Rituals to Entertainment

The Roots Ancient Roman Music: From Religious Rituals to Entertainment





Music and its Mark On Roman Society



The Roman Empire was the most influential society in most of Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East for nearly thousand and five hundred years.


Their cultural heritage of Latin, their influence, and their creations have been long overlooked and forgotten.


That was expected; it has been almost six hundred years since this Empire crumbled into pieces, as well as most of their culture, along with the destruction.


Music was important for Roman society. Romans usually heard music all around the country, from churches and singers with ancient instruments like the Roman tuba, the cornu, the tibia, and more. The decibels heard in average ancient cities were much lower than in today's cities. It was indeed a different time.


Music in the Roman Empire was a meaningful structure in the Empire's society.


People used music and carmen (songs) at sacrifices, funerals, Catholic churches, games at the Colosseum in Rome, and more parts of society. An example was when Augustus (the first Roman Emperor) directed The Secular Ode of Horace, which the choir performed at the Secular Games in 17 BC.


The Secular Games celebrated religion with music performances, sacrifices, and songs. Nero, the fifth Roman Emperor, used to compete and perform music in places like Greece.


Music performance was also crucial in factors like social class and knowledge. People also embraced music as entertainment and competition, just like today.





  • (The social classes of Ancient Rome were Patricians, Senators, Equestrians, Commons, Freedpeople, and Slaves.)


A Predecessor of Rome?



Also, there was a culture that influenced the Romans, Etruscan. The Etruscan civilization was a civilization in Italy that dates from around 900 BC.


The Ancient Greeks previously influenced this culture until it became assimilated into the Roman civilization in the 4th century BC.


Etruscans, in multiple respects, had some of their modern culture inherited by the Romans regarding building designs, religious practices, and more. As Rome invaded Greece and the rest of Italy, it took references from these cultures. 


Aside from architecture, the Romans also referenced skilled Etruscan musicians. The Etruscans utilized a variety of instruments like the lyre, the trumpet, and the flute.


They also used exotic instruments like the bucina, a brass instrument similar to a trumpet, and the double-piped aulos. The Etruscans also had a strong tradition of choral singing, which the Romans adopted for their own.


Etruscan influence on Roman music was spiritual as well. The Etruscans believed that music had healing powers, which influenced how the Romans used music in their society, including during religious rituals and ceremonies.


Overall, the Etruscan influence on Roman music was significant and helped shape ancient Rome's musical culture.



Etruscan architecture 



Roman architecture 



Instruments used in Ancient Rome


  • Bugles
  • Tubas
  • French Horn
  • Panpipe
  • Lyre
  • Organ
  • Drum
  • Lute
  • Cymbala
  • Lituus or trumpet
  • Sambuca
  • Cithara or guitar
  • Bagpipe
  • Oboe
  • Clarinet horn
  • Sistrum
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