Ancient Greek Musical Instruments: The lyre should be used together with the voices…the player and the pupil producing a note for note in unison, Heterophony, and embroidery by the lyre–

the strings throwing out melodic lines different from the Melodia which the poet composed; crowded notes where he is sparse, quick time to his slow and similarly all sorts of rhythmic complications against the voices–none of this should be imposed upon pupils.

Ancient Greek Musical Instruments


Every society has an indigenous music tradition of its own. Greece, the birthplace of democracy, art, and philosophy also possessed a rich music culture. This is evident from the study of ancient Greek myths in which musical instruments had a significant place.

Ancient Greek Musical Instruments may be divided into three categories based on nature by which the sound is produced. They were the string, the wind, and the percussion instruments.

Ancient Greek Musical Instruments


The kithara was one of the most important instruments of ancient Greece. It was originally called Chelys. It was a strummed string instrument which had a box type frame. It was a heavy instrument usually made of wood. It was played with a plectrum placing in an upright position. It was a larger form of the lyre which only professionals could play. The names of instruments like guitar, zither are derived from kithara.

Ancient Greek Musical Instruments


The lyre was a strummed and occasionally plucked instrument. It had a vital role in Greek mythology. God Apollo was believed to invent the lyre. According to a myth, Amphion, son of Zeus, used a lyre to help build the walls of Thebes.

It was built on a tortoiseshell frame. By the 8th century BC, the lyre had seven strings. In the 6th century BC, an eighth string was added. The strings were made of animal gut or linen or hemp. It was played with a plectrum. It was played by the young, amateur players.

Ancient Greek Musical Instruments


Phoenix was the earliest form of a guitar. It was the oldest of kithara type instruments. It was associated with the presentation of Homeric epics and rhapsodies. Phoenix was richly decorated with gold and ivory according to ancient sources.


Pandouris was a three-stringed instrument. Considered the ancestor of the lute, Pandouris is the first fretted instrument known. Varvatos was a longer instrument than the lyre. It produces a sweet, deep sound.

Ancient Greek Musical Instruments


Panpipes were cane tubes arranged in a scale.The sound was produced by blowing across the holes. It was a wind instrument mainly used by shepherds


Hydraulis was an instrument that looked like a modern organ. A well-preserved model of hydraulic in pottery was found at Carthage in 1885. Parts of hydraulic were found during a 1992 excavation near the foot of Mt. Olympus.

Small drums and bells were also used by the Greek.

Another instrument, the Aulos consisting of two double reed pipes produced a low sound. It was a wind instrument and was extremely difficult to play. It was used in all private and public ceremonies. It was connected with the worship of the ancient God Dionysus. The conch shell was a natural trumpet.