Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: Another great lost instrument

Today, we tend to think of instrumentation as guitars, bass, drums and keyboards.  If we want to go a little further, there’s brass (like trumpets and saxophones), traditional stringed instruments–violins, cellos–and woodwinds–oboes, flutes and the like.  But have you ever heard of an epigonion? 

If you were in a band in ancient Greece and you had one of these things, you were the equivalent of–well, you were somewhere between the guitarist and the keyboard player.  You had to be very good to play this thing because it had 40 strings and could be plucked in 127-defined ways. 

And if your band existed 3500 years ago, you might have played the barbiton.  That would have made you the bass player.  Out front would have been the dude on the phormix, which would have made him the guitarist. 

Scientists are still working out how these things might have sounded.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38346 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “Ongoing History Daily: Another great lost instrument

  • I can’t wait for the new epigonion plugin and pedal…. 😉

    Reply
  • Saxophones are woodwinds. While made from brass, they require a reed, just like a clarinet.

    Reply

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