The musical language that we call “classical” developed over thousands of years and was first described in detail by the greatest philosophers of Western Civilization: Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and the lesser-known Aristoxenus. In their writings we learn about the power of music to control behavior, to ennoble our character, to find meaning from collecting and building up impressions from memories. We learn that it follows natural laws, that music has height and depth, that intervals are perceived in visual terms: higher and lower, bigger and smaller — and that it trains character, for better or worse. The modes (or what we call scales) – the unique series half-steps and whole-steps in a melody – were believed to represent the characteristics of the Greek tribes: the Dorians, the Aeolians, the Ionians, as well as the warlike outliers from the Balkans, the Phrygians. In other words, Greek music was an expression of the fundamental culture and personality traits of its various tribes.
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