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The European Grid Infrastructure breathes life into ancient Greek music

The epigonion was brought back to life using a computing technique called physical modeling. Image courtesy European Grid Infrastructure.

Last week, the European Grid Infrastructure launched the second documentary webisode of its stories from the grid. This new episode is about the epigonion, a guitar from ancient Greece, which hasn’t been heard for centuries - until only recently.

Domenico Vicinanza, a product manager at DANTE, in Cambridge UK, who is also a professional music composer, recreated the sound of the epigonion’s 48 strings.

To recreate the sounds of the epigonion, information from ancient sources was collected. Properties that Vicinanza looked for were what the instrument looked like, what materials it was made of, how the strings were constructed, and how it was played. This knowledge was combined with a technique called physical modeling.

Calculations were made to model how the instrument’s properties would work together to create the sound for the 48 strings. For each string, these calculations were sent to the computing resources from the European Grid Infrastructure. It took Vicinanza just a few hours to create enough information for a sound library of digital files. In a single core computer he would have needed a month.

Musicians anywhere can freely play the epigonion. These sounds can be downloaded off the web and played on a simple keyboard. Vicinanza and his colleagues are now recording the sounds of the epigonion with real musicians on a CD to show that it’s a modern instrument once again.

Find out more about Domenico Vicinanza’s work from the press release on the European Grid Infrastructure website.

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