Flute too exciting?

Flute too exciting?

Consider this bit of wisdom from ever-serious Greek philosopher Aristotle in his 4th-century B.C.treatise "Politics": "The flute is not an instrument that has a good moral effect; it is too exciting."

(From the Elderly Instruments website)

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Re: Flute too exciting?

Depends who’s playing it. I always had Aristotle down for a banjo player meself.

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Exciting? I’ve never been accused of that, my flute neither!

I’d change exiting for agile, or even cameleon like as flutes can alter their chemistry as it were, depending on the tunes or the circumstances.

As for not being moral. I feel that flutes are honest creatures, unlike ‘serpents’ or, dare I say it, bagpipes!

Sue

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"Flute player" was an ancient euphamism for a man or woman performing a certain non-musical act. I believe ol’ Aristide is making a joke.

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My flute has never increased in size when playing it.

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don’t say anything… especially not to jack’s comment… it’s a family site… don’t say anything…
*sound of an evil-minded mouse unshipping a rib attempting to restrain herself*

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I’ve always found the hand drill a particularly boring instrument.

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haha, completely unrelated but croquet was banne by the church of boston because it was considered a lewd game that promoted drinking, swearing, and gambling. *sigh* croquet and flute playing just arent the same as they used to be. haha.

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Ha ha David - try a cordless hammer drill - my 2nd favourite tool.
If you peruse the job pages of *local* London papers, you will occasionally see adverts looking for "boring engineers" and "boring mechanics"…not a very nice way to talk about potenial employees, if you ask me.

Never seen one for an exciting flute player….

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The "flute" of the ancient Mediterranean of the Greeks and Romans is a common mistranslation of the Greek "aulos" ("tibia" in Latin) and was not the flute as we know it today. It was a reed instrument, either single reed like the oboe, or double like the clarinet.

Being a reed instrument the aulos would have had a penetrating, rich tone, and was ideal for stirring, emotional and dramatic effects, in religious ceremonies, drama, and revels in general. It was the principal musical instrument of the wild celebrations of the Dionysiac cult, details of which are not suitable for this site (see Fiddlemouse’s comment), but I will reveal that at banquets and the like female flute-players were often required to perform other functions… (the Greeks and Romans certainly knew how to party). It is probably these sorts of goings-on which induced conservatives such as Aristotle to express the view that citizens may listen to, but not play, such an "immoral" instrument.

The aulos came in a variety of sizes and pitches, with anything from 3 to 5 holes. It was frequently played in pairs, one fingered by each hand. It isn’t quite clear why this was done; the finger holes may have been different on the two instruments and one would have supplemented the other; one may have been played as a drone; and there are suggestions that harmony and counter-melodies may have been played. When not in use the aulos was kept in a "aulodoke" (a flute-case).

More rarely are found:
the syrinx or pan-pipe, used mostly in rustic settings;
the "syrinx monokalamos", a single end-blown flute with finger-holes; and
the "plagiaulos" a side-blown flute, somewhat lile a fife. This wasn’t a favourite of the Greeks.

While I’m about it I’ll also mention a percussion instrument used by the Greeks in entertainment and the more exotic cults - a hand-held drum, "tympanon", like the tambourine but without the jingles - surely a precursor of the bodhrán. The Greeks had a word for the person who banged it - "tympanistes".

Trevor

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It wasn’t just in ancient Greece that the flute/aulos had its problems.

Later, in the middle ages, Aulos players were excluded from taking Holy Communion in some European countries, because of the instrument’s association with Satanic ritual, and being used to summon up the Devil.

Is there any truth in the rumour that the bodhran was invented by a flute player, to divert attention?

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Is that the same as the ancient Greek "bauron"?

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Where are my manners?! I meant to say thank you Trevor for all that information. You are hereby promoted to the position of Official Historian to the Glee Club.
Lang may yer lumb reek!

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So aulos would be something between a biniou and bombarde know from the britanny?

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Jack - but surely it DOES get bigger as you play?

As the temperature of the instrument rises then one has to extend the tuning slide to keep in tune. Length IS everything LOL.

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If any flute player wants to refer to their flute-case in Greek, the Greek word is four syllables - I should have spelled it "aulodokê".

Rab, there doesn’t appear to be a Greek word "bauron" (unfortunately). There are only about half a dozen beginning with "bau-", and none at all with "baur-". Perhaps you had in mind something like "baryopês", meaning "deep-toned" - appropriate enough for the bodhrán.

Dave, thank you so much for my promotion. I shall value it always. When do I receive the badge / tee-shirt, the stock options and the enhanced pension?

Trevor

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we dont have t shirts for the glee club. just… umm, flutists that deliver the contract among other things.

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Whatever opinions people in modern Greece may have of it, the aulos in its modern forms is very much still there. There is a shawm called the zourna which I only saw played outdoors in processions, where its loudness is an advantage; and there is the clarinet, far more versatile and commonly played. It is the key instrument of Greek country music in much of north and central Greece. (The Greek word for "country" is used to classify this music.) It is characteristically played as the lead instrument in a dance band; a series of short songs may be sung in one go, with the singer singing a couple of lines at a time between purely instrumental passages; the rhythm and at least some instrumental sound are kept going, and people keep dancing. It doesn’t sound a bit like Western European or North American trad and related music, but it did strike me as the Greek equivalent to Country and Western, and the snatches of singing amid the playing have parallels in Cajun music.