Ancient Celtic music

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This article is about the music and instruments of the ancient Celts until late Antiquity. For the modern folkloristic genre and its history see Celtic music.

The ancient Celts had a distinct culture, which is shown by their very sophisticated art work. The Hallstatt culture and especially the later La Tène culture are characterized by a high aesthetic level, which must have also left traces in ancient Celtic music. Music was surely an integral part of this old cross-European culture, but with only very few exceptions its characteristics have been lost to us. Deductions rely primarily on Greek and Roman sources as well as on archaeological finds and interpretations including the reconstruction of the Celts' ancient instruments. Most of the information on ancient Celtic music centres on military conflicts and on maybe the most prominent Celtic instrument of its time, the carnyx.

In 54 BC Cicero wrote that there were no musically educated people on the British isle.[1] Independent of the validity of Cicero's remark[2] the situation was different for the Gallic regions. By the time of Augustus musical education must have widely gained ground in Gaul, otherwise Iulius Sacrovir couldn't have recruited erudite Gauls, after Sacrovir and Iulius Florus had occupied the city of Augustodonum during the Gallic insurrection in AD 21.[3] The Gauls took great pride in their musical culture, which is shown by the remark of Gaius Iulius Vindex, the Gallic rebel and later senator under Claudius, who shortly before the arrival in Rome called emperor Nero a malus citharodeus ("bad cithara player") and reproached him with inscitia […] artis ("ignorance of the arts").[4] However, Celtic music culture was spread inhomogeneously across Europe: Maximinus Thrax, the Thracian-Roman emperor of Gothic descent, annoyed his fellow Romans because he was unable to appreciate a mimic stage song.[5]

General characteristics


to be added later


to be added later


Two carnyces[6]
© Haupt (Bern) (by permission)

The carnyx (plural: carnyces; Greek: κάρνυξ—"karnyx"—or rarely: καρνον—"karnon") was a Celtic-Dacian variant of the Etruscan-Roman lituus and belongs to the family of brass instruments.[7] It was an ſ-shaped valveless horn made of beaten bronze and consisted of a tube between one and two meters in length, whereas the diameter of the tube is unknown.[8] Archaeological finds date back to the Bronze Age, and the instrument itself is attested for in contemporary sources between ca. 300 BC and AD 200. The carnyx was in widespread use in Scotland,[9] England, Wales, France, parts of Germany, eastward to Romania and beyond, even as far as India, where bands of Celtic mercenaries took it on their travels.[10]

Gallic coins show the carnyx behind the head of the goddess Gallia or held by a chieftain, a charioteer or a Gallic Victoria. On British coins the instrument is seen swung by mounted Celtic warriors or chiefs. Roman coins, e.g. those heralding Caesar's victory over Gaul, depict the carnyx on Roman tropaea as spoils of war. Another depiction can be seen on the breastplate of the Prima Porta statue of Augustus.[11] In addition several instruments are illustrated on Trajan's Column, carried by Dacian warriors.

The carnyx's most prominent feature is the bell, which was constructed as an animal head, either as one of a serpent, a fish, a bird, a wolf, a horse, an ass or a wild boar. The earliest depiction shows the head of a dragon and was found on Aetolian victory coins from the 3rd century BC, which commemorate the expulsion of the Gallic warriors, who had marauded the Delphi sanctum.[12] Behn (1912) interpreted the many bell types as distinguishing features of the various Celtic clans and chiefdoms.[13] Others have suggested a mythological component,[14] which is the most logical explanation, since the Deskford Carnyx in Scotland was a sacrificial offering, of which the possibly dismantled head could have been the key element.[15] Based on this independent development of the bell, an attempt was made to derive the Etruscan lituus from the carnyx, but without success.[16]

Playing techniques and features

Pitch compass of the reconstructed Deskford carnyx

The sound of the carnyx was described as lugubrious and harsh, perhaps due to the loosened tongue of the bell,[17] which shows that the instrument must have been a discrete enhancement of the Etruscan lituus, the sound of which was mostly described as bright and piercing.[18] The carnyx was held vertically so that the sound would travel from more than three meters above the ground. Reconstructions have shown that the instrument's embouchure must have been cut diagonally as an oval opening, so the carnyx could be played in a similar fashion as a modern-day trumpet, i.e. with vibrating lips, however blown from the side.[19] Due to the absence of valves and crooks, melodies were created by producing harmonics with overblowing techniques, as the reconstructional work by John Kenny has convincingly shown (see External links for a recording sample).[20] The fairly wide bell guaranteed a very high playing volume, and the instrument itself must have had a considerable dynamic range. The best surviving bell of a carnyx was found in North East Scotland as part of the so-called Deskford Carnyx and featured a movable tongue. In addition the bronze jaw of the animal head may have been loosened as well in order to produce a jarring sound that would surely have been most dreadful when combined with the sound of a few dozen more carnyces in battle.[21] The demoralizing effect of the Gallic battle music must have been enormous: When the Celts advanced on Delphi under Brennus in 279 BC, the unusual echoing effects of the blaring horns completely overawed the Greeks, before even a single fight could commence.[22]

Tropaeum with carnyx
© VRoma (by permission)

Use of the carnyx

Since most ancient Roman sources are based on bellicose encounters with the Celtic chiefdoms, the carnyx is today mostly seen as an instrument used during warfare, as Polybius e.g. reports for the battle of Telemon, Gallia Cisalpina, in 225 BC, where the Gauls used the instrument together with other brass instruments to frighten the Roman enemy.[23] The limitation to acoustic or psychological warfare is however erroneous. Brass instruments were regularly used as a means of communication during battle, relaying orders for troop positioning, movement and tactics, also by the Gauls.[24] Other sources confirm that the Gallic troops kept their order even in situations of military mishaps. The musicians of their army camps played their horns to ensure a cohesive and controlled retreat.[25] After the victory of Marius near Vercellae, his Roman rival Catulus Caesar reserved a Cimbrian signalling horn from the loot for himself.[26] Music, musicians and instruments were strategically important elements for the Roman and Celtic armies alike.


Furthermore, the instrument can be seen in action on the famous Gundestrup cauldron in the depiction of a warrior initiation ritual (2nd or 1st century BC), a clear evidence of the instrument's use outside of the purely military realm.[27] The ritual use of the instrument is further supported by the Deskford Carnyx, which was shown to have been a sacrificial offering to an unknown god. The picturesque report of the Battle of Telemon by Polybius might also have been intended to "communicate the idea of the Celtic troops calling up the gods of the land in their cause".[28]

Archaeological finds

Apart from the Scottish Deskford Carnyx found in 1816 on the shores of Moray Firth in Aberdeenshire, fragments of only four other carnyces had been found (e.g. the Glanum Carnyx in the Bouches-du-Rhône region), until in 2004 archaeologists discovered a foundation deposit of five well preserved carnyces from the first or second century AD under a Gallo-Roman fanum at Tintignac (Corrèze, France), four of which feature boar heads, while the fifth exemplar appears to have a serpent bell.[29] The fact that the carnyces were deposited on a holy site underlines the sacrificial importance of the instrument in Gallic culture.[30] The archaeologists responsible for the Tintignac excavation assume that the carnyces were offered to a deity identified with the Roman god Mars. There is still debate on the dating, because parts of other finds discovered in the deposit seem to be older than the first century, possibly dating to the first century BC, which means that some of the musical instruments may have been stored inside the sanctuary long before being buried.

Other Celtic instruments

Brass instruments

In his accounts of the battle of Telemon, Polybius clearly distinguishes between horn- and trumpet-like instruments played by the Gallic warriors.[31] In general the Celtic peoples had a variety of instruments at their disposal. Aside from the carnyx, at least two other brass instrument types are known from Roman and Greek depictions.

Celtic horn
© Haupt (Bern) (used by permission)

The Celtic horn

The Celtic horn was a large, oval-curved horn with a thin tube and a modestly large bell, not unlike the Roman cornu, especially since it also had a crossbar as a means of supporting the instrument's weight on the player's shoulder. Like the carnyx it is therefore and in all probability an instrument of Etruscan origin from the first period of hellenization.[32] On a Pompeian fresco, the horn is carried by a female dancer,[33] and a Gallic warrior carries a broken exemplar, fastened together by a (leather?) band, on a Capitoline sculpture.[34] Like the Roman cornu, the Celtic horn will have been held horizontally to ensure a more comfortable playing position.

Celtic trumpet
© Haupt (Bern)
(used by permission)

The Celtic trumpet

The Celtic trumpet was similar to the straight Roman tuba and probably came in different lengths. A Celtic musician is depicted playing the instrument on a late Greek vase.[35] A related instrument could be the early mediaeval Loch Erne horn that was found in Ireland.

Other brass instruments

Many regional variants of the Celtic horns are known and came in different shapes, sizes and diameters, like the Loughnashade Trumpa from Ireland and similar horns from Scandinavia and other regions. Couissin (1927) documented a third Celtic wind instrument type with a bent horn, similar to the Caledonian Caprington Horn[36] or the infamous prehistoric Sussex horn that was however lost and of which only drawings and reproductions survive. It is not known whether the horn mentioned by Couissin was a fragment of another Celtic horn or a simple cow horn of the rural population, a bowed horn-instrument known all across Europe.

Woodwinds and similar instruments

Bone flutes, mostly made from birds, are known already from the Stone Age.[37] Wooden flutes were introduced later and corresponded to the Roman fistula (shepherd's flute). But terracotta and bone whistles remained in use throughout antiquity.[38] In addition woodwinds made of tubes and pipes, similar to the Greek syrinx (pan flute), were in use.[39]


Crotales (hand bells) made of bronze or wood as well as terracotta rattles are known already from the Bronze Age, some of which came in the shape of birds.[40] Closed bells were sometimes built with a ring and could be strapped to the player's apparel. Hand clappers are known from Hispania as a central element of the Gaditanae's dances (see below). Weapons and shields—apart from their use for rhythmic noises on the battlefields—must have been widely adopted as percussion instruments, but the only sources in this respect are on the Gallaecian and Celtiberian culture: In his epic on the Second Punic War Silius mentions the exotic songs of the Gallaecian military allies, to which they beat the rhythm on their shields.[41] Whether the Celts used drumming instruments like the Roman tympanum is unknown, but very likely, because other forms of hand drums like the ceramic German Honsommern Drum, which was similar to the African djembe, are known since the Neolithic. A later Iron Age drum is the Malemort Drum found in the central French Corrèze region.[42]

Lyre of Paule
© Condi (by permission)

Crwth — the ancient Celtic lyre

Not much is known about the ancient Celtic lyre, only that it was used by Celtic bards since the 8th century BC and that it was later well-known in Rome, where it was called lyra.[43] Its resonator was made from wood, while some components like the instrument's ankles were probably made from bones. The lyre strings were made from animal intestine. The Gauls and other Celtic peoples regarded the crwth[44] as a symbol of their independent musical culture,[45] although they had probably received it from the Ancient Greeks. A stone figure found in Britain (ca. 70 BC) has led to the assumption that the Celts were entertained by lyre-players in more peaceful settings, which is supported by the fact that the Goths invoked their tribal gods with prayers and chants, which they accompanied by lyre play.[46] By the time of the Barbarian Invasions in the 5th century AD the lyre had become the most important stringed instrument of the Germanic tribes[47] and was a six-stringed wooden lyre with hollow ledger arms and wooden vortices in the ledger rod. The original Celtic lyre however came with varying numbers of strings: the Lyre of Paule, which is depicted on a statue from Côtes d'Armor in Bretagne, apparently had seven strings.

Celtic use of Roman instruments

Since many Celts like the Gauls and Germans became part of the Roman army, they must have also used Roman instruments, especially during battle. However, only one source seems to have been passed down: At the time of emperor Claudius' inauguration, the troops stationed in Germania and Pannonia mutinied. When an unexpected lunar eclipse commenced, the insurgent Pannonians feared the wrath of the gods and ordered their musicians to play against their perdition aeris sono, tubarum cornuumque concentu, i.e. with their tubae and cornua.[48]


Aside from the carnyx-players the Gundestrup cauldron also shows Celtic dances, possibly in a ritual setting. A bronze figure found in Neuvy-en-Sullias (France) and depictions on Celtic pottery indicate that dancing was performed on ceremonial occasions.[49] Celtiberian weapon dances are reported for the funeral of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus.[50] The most famous dances of Hispania however were performed by the Gaditanae, the women of Gades in Hispania Baetica,[51] which were so popular in Rome that special teachers from Spain were hired for Roman music education.[52] The dancers used hand clappers as an accompanying instrument, creating a lascivious dance similar to modern-day castanet performances.[53]


The Romans have left us a variety of sources on chants from various regions. Sallust mentions the Spanish custom of ancestral songs honoring their military deeds.[54] The recital of "barbaric songs" is reported for a member of the Celtiberian infantry during the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, as he was attacked by the Roman consul.[55] National songs are already attested by Tacitus for the Caledonians.[56] Livius reports Gallic war songs that were heard at the river Allia.[57] After the Gallic victory (ca. 387 BC) the city's inhabitants had to endure the dissonant battle chants.[58] A sole Gallic warrior is reported to have gone into a fight singing.[59] Livius on the other hand only describes the Roman Titus Manlius, who would defeat him in 361 BC, as remaining in defiant silence to concentrate all his anger on the impending fight.[60] In 218 BC the Gauls resisted the enemy commander Hannibal and his troops during his crossing of the Rhône with furious battle cries and the demonstrative clashing of their swords and armour.[61]

Since many of the Gauls and Germans joined Caesar's army after his victory over Gaul, their war chants were added to the Roman oeuvre of army songs: When 2000 soldiers from the Gallic cavalry defected to Octavian before the Battle of Actium, they didn't only cheer for Caesar but presented genuine Gallic war songs.[62]

Bardic and druidic chant

Probably the most popular vocal performers were the Celtic bards, whose national heroic songs were known in Rome throughout antiquity.[63] But the bards also executed more intimate social functions, creating chants for birthdays, weddings, prophecies, funerals and other occasions. Some bards were also believed to have the power to cast away demons and evil spirits, which they probably did with ritual singing.[64]
more to be added later

Germanic chant

The Roman sources on Germanic chants are not based on ethnographical topica, but originate from actual experiences. The primary attributes of Germanic singing can be derived from the accounts on the Germanic tribes by Publius Cornelius Tacitus. As scant and recapitulary Tacitus' observations might be, it is possible to deduce two discrete music genres, the war chant (barditus) and the heroic songs.

Barditus — the battle song

Among other heroes and gods the Germans especially worshipped Heracles as their god of war with their battle songs,[65] which must have inspired Hecataeus of Miletus to use the name Κελτοὶ (Keltoì) for the Celtic Hallstatt tribes of Western and South-Western Germania,[66] since Keltos was the son of Heracles and Keltine in Greek mythology.[67] The warriors inferred the outcome of the battle from the character of the so-called barditus[68] and also accompanied their cries with the beating and rattling of their weapons and armor, which directly parallels the custom that the Gauls exhibited at the Rhône (see above). The fact that the word barditus also describes the trumpeting of an elephant might be a hint that also wind instruments were used, but this must remain pure speculation. It is more feasible that Tacitus used the term for purely objective reasons, since Germanic war songs would not be expected to come as a particularly aesthetic experience. The most important aspect was namely the intonation before the battle,[69] and the abrupt start of the barditi doesn't speek for music with words. The characterization as an acoustic crescendo rather points at noisy battle clamor than a normal song with lyrics.

The Germans fighting for Aulus Vitellius Germanicus went into battle singing, after they had been surrounded by Othonian enemy forces.[70] In his account of the Batavian rebellion lead by Gaius Iulius Civilis the author Tacitus contrasts the hesitant attitude of the Roman soldiers with the sullen Batavian chants.[71] The writings of Ammianus specify that the descriptions of the raw, dull and thundering battle songs, which were also given by Tacitus, allude to the music of the Germans fighting on the Roman side.[72] The fact that he actually mentions "Romans" intoning Germanic songs clearly shows how extensively the Roman army had been enforced with Germanic troops.[73]

Heroic songs

Although Tacitus doesn't distinguish between the barditus and the heroic songs, his choice of words implies a second genre. Tacitus' cumulation of alliterations[74] is probably the first mention of rhyme in Europe, an early form of the German Stabreim, which became widely popular in the Mediaeval Ages.[75]

The Romans were acquainted with Germanic heroic songs, e.g. from the poetic and musical Nachleben of Arminius.[76] The Tacitus source can be seen as the first testimony of early Germanic heroic songs.[77] Festive singing is also attested for the night of the Roman advance in the Ems region in AD 15.[78] In AD 26 the insurgent Thracians were surprised by the attack of the Roman consul and general Poppaeus Sabinus during a feast with dance and singing. The Sicambri, who fought for the Roman side, countered the situation with defiant songs of their own,[79] which could be evidence that the Celts knew improvisation as well as the ancient tradition of singing contests, which are e.g. reported by Virgil.[80] The Goths sang heroic songs to worship their ancestors,[81] and their tradition of tribal songs is well attested.[82] After the battle of Campus Mauriacus the Goths were heard singing dirges for their fallen king.[83]

The Romans as ethnographers

Elephant treading a carnyx
© Harlan J. Berk (used by permission)

The Roman historians and poets were often interested in foreign music, especially the music of the Gallic and Germanic Celts, but sometimes their literary aims had priority over a detailed ethnographical observation. Many modern scholars had long presumed this to have been a common characteristic of Roman historiography.[84] One of the most prominent victims of this generalizing misconception was Julius Caesar, whose excurses in his Commentaries on the Gallic War often show an exceptionally autonomous ethnography, especially in the later books.[85] Only in a minor number of other cases, ethnographical detail is presented by Caesar to benefit purely as a foil for Roman behaviour. An example is his detailed description of the Gallic women's opportunistic behaviour,[86] where their inconstantia is used to contrast the magnitudo animi of the Roman military. Furthermore the colourful account helped to play down Caesar's military setback in Gergovia.

Caesar can therefore not be seen as completely free from the preferral of political goals, especially in his reports on the enemy's military campaigns, which can furthermore be exemplified by his mention of the Gallic signalling horns in his Commentaries. The instrument was used in Alesia by orders of Vercingetorix to alarm his troops, and the Belgian tribe of the Bellovacians used it to summon a council of war, after they had been defeated by the Romans in 51 BC.[87] Caesar calls the instrument a tuba, although the correct term must have been known to him, so it's unclear if it was a carnyx or one of the other Gallic brass instruments (see above), although Caesar's rendition might well suggest the Celtic trumpet. Here the interpretatio Romana obscures the ethnographical detail, although it can be derived from the many illustrations on victory reliefs that the distinctiveness of the Gallic horns had not been passed unnoticed by the Romans.

A good example of how many Romans viewed the Germanic Celts is given by the soldiers after the triumph of Lepidus and Plancus 43 BC in Spain. For their songs the soldiers improvised lyrics that used the term germani ("brothers", "Germans") for their fellow Romans to ambiguously allude to the barbaric proscriptions of the Second Triumvirate.[88]

The Greek view — Apollo and the "Celtic Hyperboreans"

to be added later


  1. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Letters to Atticus 4.17.6.
  2. Cicero is known for his narrow-mindedness, which sometimes surfaced in the form of xenophobic polemics, as his remark on Judaism shows, which he called a "foreign superstition" (barbara superstitio; Cicero, For Flaccus 67–69) despite the common Graeco-Roman-Jewish practice of identifying Iuppiter and/or Zeus with Yahweh and vice versa since Phoenician times.
  3. Tacitus, Annals 3.43
  4. Suetonius, Nero 41.1; Cassius Dio, Roman History 63.22.4–6. Nero however was himself so proud and self-absorbed that such criticism didn't bother him any more.
  5. Historia Augusta: "The Two Maximi", 9.5
  6. The bent horn toward the mouthpiece is probably incorrect. (See the paragraph on the reconstructional work.)
  7. The classification is based on the method of sound production, not on the instrument's construction material.
  8. The length of the instrument is deduced not from archaeological excavations but from depictions of the instrument, which have to be taken with a grain of salt, because they could have been created as an artistic exaggeration. Usually the carnyx's length is given as ca. 1 to 1 1/2 meters, although some archaeologists assume that the instrument was sometimes "man-high". (Christophe Maniquet & Martine Fabioux, Decouverte à Tintignac Naves en Corrèze. Un dépôt exceptionnel d'objets gaulois)
  9. Mara Freeman, Kindling the Celtic Spirit, New York 2001, p. 275
  10. Carnyces
    E.g. two carnyx players are depicted on the frieze of the Great Stupa in Sanchi, India. (See image)
  11. Gymnasium 63, 1956, 349; for an image see here. Holding the carnyx is a Gaul, probably a personified Gallia, who is sitting in the inflected, submissive posture typical for Roman depictions of defeated peoples. Some have also connected this element of the Prima Porta breastplate to conquered Gaul and Spain.
  12. Head, Hist. Num., Oxford 1911, p. 334, quoted in: Gerold Walser: "Römische und gallische Militärmusik". In: Victor Ravizza, Festschrift Arnold Geering, Bern 1972
  13. Friedrich Behn, "Die Musik im römischen Heere", Mainzer Zeitschrift 7, 1912, pp. 36–47
  14. Heike Zechner, Wenn Troubadix die Karnyx bläst
  15. John Purser & Fraser Hunter, About the Carnyx
  16. Curt Sachs: "Lituus und Karnyx"; in: Festschrift für Rochus von Liliencron, Leipzig 1910, pp. 241–246. Contra: Günter Fleischhauer, "Bucina und Cornu", Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift Halle-Wittenberg 9, 1960, pp. 501–504
  17. Diodorus Siculus 5.30.3 = Poseidonios FGr Hist 87 F 116; see also below.
  18. Quintus Ennius, Annals 530; Silius Italicus, Punica 13.146; Quintus Horatius Flaccus Carmina 1.1.23; Publius Papinius Statius Thebaid 6.227–230; Lucius Annaeus Seneca Minor Thyestes 574 et al.
  19. Proposed by Axel May and Heike Zechner; the original reconstruction however featured a bent tube toward the mouthpiece.
  20. John Kenny, Reconstruction of the Deskford Carnyx; it is also possible to produce bends and multiphonics. However, the zoomorphic restriction to boar-inspired sounds should only be applied to the Deskford Carnyx, because it featured a boar head in contrast to many other carnyx bells, which were inspired by different animals (see above).
  21. Steve Piggott: "The Carnyx in Early Iron Age Britain". In: The Antiquaries Journal 39 (1959), pp. 19–32
  22. Marcus Iunianus Iustinus, Epitoma historiarum Philippicarum Pompei Trogi, 24.6.8
  23. Polybius 2.29.5
  24. Cf. Gaius Iulius Caesar: Commentaries on the Gallic war 7.81.3 & 8.20.2; see also below.
  25. Ammianus Marcellinus 19.6.9
  26. Suetonius: Life of Marius 27.6
  27. The Etruscan-Roman lituus was also a multi-functional instrument, used in the army as a signalling horn, during funeral processions and other religious and civil ceremonies.
  28. Barry Cunliffe, The Ancient Celts, Oxford 1997, p. 103
  29. Christophe Maniquet & Martine Fabioux, Decouverte à Tintignac Naves en Corrèze. Un dépôt exceptionnel d'objets gaulois
  30. Cp. also Gaius Iulius Caesar: Commentarii de Bello Gallico 7.17
  31. Polybius uses graecized names for the instruments; literally: "players of the bykane [βυκάνη, Greek name for the Latin bucina, a simple Roman horn] and the salpinx [σάλπιγξ, either a smaller, distinctive Greek trumpet or alternatively used as the Greek name for a war trumpet, e.g. the Roman tuba]."
  32. Especially the crossbar has been verified as uniquely Etruscan. The Roman and Greek sources on the Tyrrhenian (= Etruscan) origin of the lituus and the cornu are abundant. Only the Etruscan origin of the Roman tuba is still in question. (Cf. also Max Wegner, "Etrurien", in: Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart III, Kassel/Basel 1954, pp. 1595–1602; Günter Fleischhauer, "Bucina und Cornu", in: Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift Halle-Wittenberg 9, 1960, pp. 501–504; Michael Büttner, Studien zur Geschichte der Trompete, Dissertation Münster 1953, p. 22 et al. For ancient sources on Etrurian music in general see Günther Wille, Musica Romana, Amsterdam 1967, pp. 562–572.)
  33. Pierre Couissin, "Les armes Gauloises figurées sur les monuments", Revue Archaeologique 1927, 72–77
  34. Gerold Walser: "Römische und gallische Militärmusik", in: Victor Ravizza, Festschrift Arnold Geering, Bern 1972
  35. Pierre Couissin, "Les armes Gauloises figurées sur les monuments", Revue Archaeologique 1927, 72–77
  36. Ancient Lothian Horns: Music Prehistory
  37. E.g. the Isturitz and Ariège flutes. Other materials like terracotta or reindeer horn are also known.
  38. E.g. the bone flutes from Vesterbølle (Denmark) and from Veyreau (France).
  39. The Romans also used the term fistulae for the Greek syrinx.
  40. The Roman equivalent would not have been the crotala but rather the sistrum or the cymbala, because in Rome crotala meant a mostly wooden clapper instrument, similar to the castanets.
  41. Tiberius Catius Silius Italicus, Punica 3.346
  42. See e.g. Prehistoire de la musique decouverte des sons et des instruments de musique de la prehistoire.
  43. Ammianus Marcellinus 15.9.8
  44. Not to be confused with the Welsh instrument of the same name (see Crwth). The Welsh crwth (including the later addition of a bow) goes back to the Mediaeval lyre, which itself was based on the late-ancient Germanic derivative of the ancient Celtic crwth (see also below).
  45. Ammianus Marcellinus 15.9.8; cp. also Venantius Fortunatus, Carmina 7.8.61–64 for a more general remark.
  46. Iordanis, The Origin and Deeds of the Goths 10.65
  47. Anthony Baines: The Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments, revised German edition, Stuttgart 2000
  48. Tacitus, Annals 4.47.2. It is unclear however if Gallo-Celtic soldiers were involved in this incident.
  49. Patricia Calvert, The Ancient Celts, Franklin Watts 2005
  50. Livius 25.17.4; possibly Arevacian soldiers from Numantia. In modern-day Celtic music folklore of Galicia, weapon and sword dances are still a popular element.
  51. Marcus Valerius Martialis, Liber spectaculorum 5.78.22–27, 6.71.1 & 3.63.3
  52. Marcus Valerius Martialis, Liber spectaculorum 1.41.12. How important foreign music education was for the Romans and that it was seen as superior over general education, is substantiated by the year AD 383, when the Romans under Gratianus feared a famine and expelled a large number of foreigners from the city. Significantly, 3000 female dancers, their choirs and music teachers were allowed to stay. (Ammianus Marcellinus, 14.6.19)
  53. It is unknown whether these ancient percussion instruments were made of wood or from clam shells. Furthermore the culture of the Gades region might have been influenced more by Phoenicia than by the Celts. But since modern Galician music folklore includes castanet-like instruments (tarrazola and cuncha), a Celtiberian connection to Hispania Baetica (modern-day Andalusia) can in principle be postulated. However, the origin of the castanet is with high probability the Phoenician empire, since the instrument is known in many different musical cultures in the Lebanon region and along the Phoenician trade routes to Spain.
  54. Gaius Sallustius Crispus, Historiarum fragmenta 2.92
  55. Tiberius Catius Silius Italicus, Punica 3.346
  56. Tacitus, Life of Cn. Iulius Agricola 33.1
  57. Livius 5.37.8
  58. Livius 5.39.5
  59. Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius, fragment from his Annals, in: Aulus Gellius 9.13.4
  60. Livius 7.10.8
  61. Livius 21.28.1; a similar incident is reported for 189 BC in Livius 38.17.4
  62. Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Epodon 9.17
  63. Sextus Pompeius Festus, De Verborum Significatu 31 (ed. Lindsay, 1913); Marcus Annaeus Lucanus 1.449
  64. Patricia Calvert, The Ancient Celts, Franklin Watts 2005
  65. The god must have been introduced to the Celtic regions during the first waves of Hellenization after the foundation of Massilia by Greeks from Phocaea ca. 600 BC.
  66. Hecataeus of Miletus, Fragmenta, in: Jacoby, FGrH 1F 54–56; cp. also: Herodotus of Halicarnassus, Histories 2.33.3 & 4.49.3; Postumius Rufius Festus (qui et) Avien(i)us, Ora Maritima 4.132–134]]
  67. Parthenius of Nicaea, Narrationes amatoriae 30.1–2: καὶ αὐτοῖς χρόνου περιήκοντος γενέσθαι παῖδα Κελτόν, ἀφ' οὗ δὴ Κελτοὶ προσηγορεύθησαν.
  68. Main source on the barditus is Tacitus, Germania 3.1.
  69. Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus 3.18
  70. Tacitus, Histories 2.22.1
  71. Tacitus, Histories 4.18.3
  72. Ammianus Marcellinus 16.12.43, 21.13.15 & 26.7.17
  73. Ammianus Marcellinus 31.7.11
  74. Tacitus, Germania 3.1 (alliterations emphasized with capital letters): […] Accendunt Animos Futuraeque pugnae Fortunam ipso cantu augurantur Terrent enim Trepidantve prout sonuit acies nec tam Voces illae quam Virtutis concentus videntur […]
  75. G. Wolterstorff, Philologische Wochenschrift 60, 1940, p. 59; Tacitus' account of the Germanic alliterative verse proves that he must have heard it in person, not necessarily in Germania, but maybe in Rome. Since Caesar's times, Germanic soldiers and their descendants played a prominent role in the Roman army, especially in the elite cavalry and as imperial bodyguards of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, e.g. of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Caligula and king Herod the Great, whose name was also Iulius due to his adoption by Caesar.
  76. Tacitus, Annals 2.88.3
  77. Günther Wille: Musica Romana — Die Bedeutung der Musik im Leben der Römer (Amsterdam 1967, p. 575) adv. Bickel, Rheinisches Museum 98, 1955, p. 194
  78. Tacitus, Annals 1.65.1
  79. Tacitus, Annals 4.47.2
  80. Publius Vergilius Maro, Eclogues III 3, 25–29, 31, 49, 51, 58 & 108; Eclogues V 1, 13 & 15; Eclogues VII 4, 18 & 69; Eclogues VIII 21, 25, 31, 36, 42, 46, 51, 57 & 61. Theokritus, I 3 & 24, V 1, 21, 30 & 67; V 80; VI 5; VII 41; VIII 61 et al.
  81. Ammianus Marcellinus, 31.7.11
  82. Iordanis, The Origin and Deeds of the Goths 5.43; see also above: invocation of the gods by the Gothic priesthood including lyre play (Iordanis, The Origin and Deeds of the Goths 10.65).
  83. Iordanis, The Origin and Deeds of the Goths 41.214
  84. As it was still shown by Gerold Walser, Caesar und die Germanen — Studien zur politischen Tendenz römischer Feldzugberichte, Wiesbaden 1956
  85. Detlef Rasmussen, "Das Autonomwerden des geographisch-ethnographischen Elements in den Exkursen" (1963), in: Detlef Rasmussen: Caesar, Darmstadt 1967, pp. 279–338
  86. Gaius Iulius Caesar, Commentaries on the Gallic war 7.47–48 and especially 7.52.3
  87. Gaius Iulius Caesar, Commentaries on the Gallic war 7.81.3 & 8.20.2
  88. Marcus Velleius Paterculus, Roman History 2.67.4