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918
AULOS

the stage at which it became known as the Tyrrhenian aulos (Pollux iv. 70) or the hydraulos, according to the method of compressing the wind supply (see Organ: Early History; and Syrinx). The aulos in its earliest form, the reed pipe, during the best classical period had a cylindrical bore (κοιλία) like that of the modern clarinet, and therefore had the acoustic properties of the stopped pipe, whether the air column was set in vibration by means of a single or of a double reed, for the mouthpiece does not affect the harmonic series.[1] To the acoustic properties of open or stopped pipes are due those essential differences which underlie the classification of modern wind instruments. A stopped pipe produces its fundamental tone one octave lower than the tone of an open pipe of corresponding length, and overblows the harmonics of the twelfth, and of the third above the second octave of the fundamental tone, i.e. the odd numbers of the series; whereas the open pipe gives the whole series of harmonics, the octave, the twelfth, the double octave, and the third above it, &c.

To produce the diatonic scale throughout the octaves of its compass, the stopped pipe requires eleven lateral holes in the side of the pipe, at appropriate distances from each other, and from the end of the pipe, whereas the open pipe requires but six. The acoustic properties of the open pipe can only be secured in combination with a reed mouthpiece by making the bore conical. The late Romans (and therefore we may perhaps assume the Greeks also, since the Romans acknowledge their indebtedness to the Greeks in matters relating to musical instruments, and more especially to the cithara and aulos) understood the acoustic principle utilized to-day in making wind instruments, that a hole of small diameter nearer the mouthpiece may be substituted for one of greater diameter in the theoretically correct position. This is demonstrated by the 4th-century grammarian Macrobius, who says (Comm. in Somn. Scip. ii. 4, 5): “Nec secus probamus in tibiis, de quarum foraminibus vicinis inflantis ori sonus acutus emittitur, de longinquis autem et termino proximis gravior; item acutior per patentiora foramina, gravior per angusta” (see Bassoon). Aristotle gives directions for boring holes in the aulos, which would apply only to a pipe of cylindrical bore (Probl. xix. 23). At first the aulos had but three or four holes; to Diodorus of Thebes is due the credit of having increased this number (Pollux iv. 80). Pronomus, the musician, and teacher of Alcibiades (5th century B.C.), further improved the aulos by making it possible to play on one pair of instruments the three musical scales in use at his time, the Dorian, the Phrygian, and the Lydian, whereas previously a separate pair of pipes had been used for each scale (Pausanias ix. 12. 5; Athenaeus xiv. 31). These three modes would require a compass of a tenth in order to produce the fundamental octave in each.

There are two ways in which this increased compass might have been obtained: (1) by increasing the number of holes and covering up those not required, (2) by means of contrivances for lowering the pitch of individual notes as required. We have evidence that both means were known to the Greeks and Romans. The simplest device for closing holes not in use was a band of metal left free to slide round the pipe, and having a hole bored through it corresponding in diameter with the hole in the pipe. Each hole was provided with a band, which was in some cases prevented from slipping down the pipe by narrow fixed rings of metal. The line on fig. 1 between r and s is thought to have been one of these rings.

Some pipes had two holes pierced through the bands and the bone, in such a manner that only one could be exposed at a time. This is clearly shown in the diagram (fig. 1) of fragments of an aulos from the museum at Candia, for which the writer is greatly indebted to Professor John L. Myres, by whom measured drawings were made from the instrument in 1893. These highly interesting remains, judging from the closed end (5), seem to belong to a side-blown reed-pipe similar to the Maenad pipes in the Castellani collection at the British Museum, illustrated below; they are constructed like modern flutes, but played by means of a reed inserted into the lateral embouchure.

In the Candia pipe, it seems likely that Nos. 1 and 2 represented the bell end, slightly expanded, No. 3 joining the broken end of No. 2 at l; there being a possible fit at the other end at s with a in No. 4 (the drawings must in this case be imagined as reversed for parts 3 and 4), and No. 5 joining on to No. 4 at k.

According to Professor Myres there are fragments of a pair of pipes in the Cyprus Museum of precisely the same construction as the one in Candia. In the drawing, the shape and relative position of the holes on the circumference is approximate only, but their position lengthways is measured.


Britannica Aulos Candia.jpg

(From a drawing by Prof. John L. Myres.)

Fig. 1. — Diagram of the Fragments of an Aulos (Candia Mus.).

a, Triple wrapping of bronze as well as slide.
b, Slide with hole.
c, Slides with two holes not uncovered together.
d, Slides with two holes not uncovered together, one hole at back.
e, Slide.
f, Slide missing.
g, Slide missing, scars of slide holes.
h, Slide.
i and j, Slide.
k, Socket.
l, Male half of joint.
m, n o, Slides, the top hole being in the slide only.
p and q, Slides, with two holes;

the small hole shown is in the

pipe, there being a corresponding hole in the slide at the back.
r, Bronze covering (and slide?).
s, Male joint.
t, The wavy line shows the extreme length of fragment.
u, 13 mm. inside diameter, 14 mm. outside diameter.
w, Engraved lines and conical form of bronze covering.
x, Wavy line shows extreme length of fragment.
y, Stopped end of pipe with engraved lines.

The line between r and s is either a turned ring or part of bronze cover. The double lines to the right of t are engraved lines.


Bands of silver were found on the ivory pipes from Pompeii[2] (fig. 2), as well as on two pipes belonging to the Castellani collection (fig. 4) and on one from Halicarnassus, in the British Museum. In order to enable the performer to use these bands conveniently, a contrivance such as a little ring, a horn or a hook termed keras (κέρας) was attached to the band.[3]

Thirteen of the bands on the Pompeian pipes still have sockets which probably originally contained kerata. Pollux (iv. 80) mentions that Diodorus of Thebes, in order to increase the range of the aulos, made lateral channels for the air (πλάγιαι ὁδοί). These consisted of tubes inserted into the holes in the bands for the purpose of lengthening the column of air, and lowering individual notes at will, the sound being then produced at the extremity of the tube, instead of at the surface of the pipe. It is possible that some of the double holes in the slides of the Candia pipe were intended for the reception of these tubes. These lateral tubes form the archetype of the modern crook or piston.[4] The mouthpiece of the aulos was called zeugos

  1. See Friedrich Zamminer, Die Musik und musikalischen Instrumente in ihrer Beziehung zu den Gesetzen der Akustik (Giessen, 1855), p. 305.
  2. These pipes were discovered during the excavations in 1867, and are now in the museum at Naples. Excellent reproductions and descriptions of them are given in “The Aulos or Tibia,” by Albert A. Howard, Harvard Studies, vol. iv. (Boston, 1893), pl. ii. and pp. 48-55.
  3. For illustrations of auloi provided with these contrivances, see illustration (fig. 2) of an aulos from Pompeii; a relief in Vatican, No. 535; Helbig’s Wandgemãlde, Nos. 56, 69, 730, 765, &c.
  4. For illustrations of ὁδοί showing the holes at the ends of the tubes, see Description des marbres antiques du Musée Campana, by H. d’Escamps, pl. 25; Wilhelm Froehner’s Catalogue of the Louvre, No. 378; Glyptothek Museum at Munich, No. 188; Albert A. Howard, “The Aulos or Tibia,” Harvard Studies, iv. (Boston, 1893), pl. 1, No. 1.