Seikilos Epitaph

The oldest known song, ever!

Seikilos Epitaph

The oldest known song (complete with musical notation and lyrics) is from 200 BC called “Seikilos Epitaph”. It was found on a tombstone. What’s so remarkable are the lyrics. From ancient Greek they translate roughly to:

“While you live, be happy
have no grief at all.
Life exists only for a short while,
and time demands an end.”

Listen to the song here – It’s hauntingly beautiful!  

And here is the notation with the Greek lyrics underneath:

Seikilos epitaph

So 2000 years ago people were contemplating life – how short it is and what is its meaning or purpose or whatever you want to call it.

Isn’t it fascinating how universal these human feelings are? How the human condition transcends time and place?

And perhaps more importantly, aren’t these basic, most primitive feelings what we tap into as composers, songwriters and musicians?


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