I’ve fallen in love with this song. It’s the oldest complete musical composition known. (There are older fragments but this is the oldest complete song.) It’s an epitaph on a gravestone, about 2000 years old.
Prefacing the tune are the words: “I am a tombstone, an icon. Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance.”
The translation Wikipedia gives, which is pretty good as far as my Greek can tell after all these years since school, is:
- Hoson zes, phainou
- Meden holos su lupou;
- Pros oligon esti to zen
- To telos ho chronos apaitei
- While you live, shine
- Don’t suffer anything at all;
- Life exists only a short while
- And time demands its toll.
I first found out about it though on the Amaranth publishing site, which has a really haunting midi of the song.
Via the Wikipedia article I found a good mp3 of the song (including singing), and a youtube video of a fellow performing it on a harp. I tried to learn how to play it on my ukulele (and sing along). After a lot of attempts I never got one without significant mistakes, so I posted one with significant mistakes as a response on youtube. Here ’tis.