Ancient Roman Music

Despite the fact that the Romans lacked Musical Originality, they used music for many of their activities and they really got entertained through music.

The ancient Romans considered music to be of educational significance. Musical competitions were quite rampant and it drew everyone’s attention including the great Emperor Nero who displayed his musical skills far and wide.

Music played a great role in the ancient Roman culture.  They were usually played at funerals and on so many other occasions.

Romans had a great ability when it comes to assimilating ideas and culture from communities and societies they come in contact with.

The Greek played a great role when it comes to musical pattern and instruments of the ancient Romans. No one really has an idea of how the Roman music sounded like because there were no device to record the sounds back then.

However, the wealthy ancient Romans possessed slaves who were skillful musicians and they performed at banquets and special gatherings.

Theatre exhibitions used musical backups, and musicians performed for tips in taphouses, or by the roadside. In this article, you are going to know more facts about the ancient Roman music.


  • The ancient Romans had a kind of instrument which looked so much like the horn trumpet which was built out of shell. As time advanced, it developed and was built out of horn, sometimes from metal and wood, but with the same resemblance like that of the shell. This musical instrument was called The Buccina. The buccina was built to have a curved structure so as to make it easy dor the instrumentalists to use it effectively and this was done with the mouth widely-opened. This instrument was mostly used at funerals, and festive celebrations, and this is played before and after everyone sat down to dine. The musicians who played this instrument were called The Buccinators.
  • Another instrument the ancient Romans used was the Cornu, popularly known as a wind instrument.Back then, they were built out of horns and as years rolled by, they advanced into brass. It had a very large structures, with a great curve. It also possessed a cross-piece which made it easier for a performer to use. Notes were not produced with keys or holes but were produced through the limitation and alteration of one’s breath.
  • The Cymbal was a popular musical instrument among the ancient Romans and it  had a structure similar to that of a two halved globes. Performers held them in each hands while striking them against each other.
  • Lyre was the musical instrument the ancient Romans used for musical backups for songs and they were also used during intervals or intermission of several parts.A specie of poetry called the Lyric Poetry coined it’s name from this instrument called the
  • Drums were also played by the ancient Romans and an example of these drums was a small drum carried with hands. It had several structures like the modern-day tambourines which possessed bells. The Tympana had hides of oxen around and was usually played with a stick and sometimes with hands like a tambourine. Tympana was widely used to perform several religious rituals.
  • The ancient Romans were more skillful when it comes to performing with flute and it occurred to be the most common musical instrument of the ancient Romans and an example of this flute was the Tibia or pipe flute. It mostly had the structure of a hollow cane with holes. Most times, they were made of wood. The tibia was also played during funerals, religious rites, and festive occasions.
  • The ancient Roman music had a single melody. They also had no harmony in them.
  • The ancient Roman Emperor, Emperor Nerohosted musical contests where only musicians travelled from several parts of the Empire to compete and show their musical skills.


  • Question: The ancient Roman music had its origin from?
    Answer:   Greece.
  • Question: Which of the Roman Emperor developed a great interest in music?
    Answer: Emperor Nero.
  • Question:  Which of the musical instruments were very common among the ancient Romans?
    Answer: The Tibia or Pipe flute.
  • Question: Where did the specie of poetry called the Lyric poetry coin its name from?
    Answer: The lyric poetry coined its name from the Lyre.