Listen to the World’s Oldest Complete Surviving Song

You’re probably thinking that I mean an ancient Edison cylinder from the late 1870s.  Nope.

Some medieval scroll featuring a musical score?  Uh-uh.

This is the Seikilos epitaph, which dates from about the first century AD.  It beautifully preserves some ancient music notation in its entirety, which has allowed present-day scholars to figure out how to perform it.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics.

While you live, shine

have no grief at all

life exists only for a short while

and time demands its toll.

Great.  Seikilos was an emo kid.

This material was found on a tombstone near Aidin, Turkey.  It also came with the inscription “I am a tombstone, an image. Seikilos place me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance.”

If you want to hear a full version of the song complete with lyrics, head to io9.  Then come back for this instrumental version.  Anyone want to adapt it for modern day instrumentation?  A metal version? Dubstep?

Juliette Jagger

Juliette Jagger is a Canadian music journalist. She is on Twitter @juliettejagger.

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