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Scene 01 – Invocation

You can listen here to the original song “Invocation”, which is the opening of Scene 1 of Iliad The Musical.

Lyrics

You can also follow along with the libretto for lyrics and context.

Context

The show begins with the invocation of the muse.

The curtains open, revealing the Achaeans in council. Calchas holds the staff that commands the council’s attention. Hitting the staff on the ground on the first of every six beats, Calchas invokes the godess of memory.

In Ancient Greece, a staff was pounded on the ground to mark the start of each verse (that’s why, even today, we draw a “staff” between measures).

According to legend, Homer sang the Iliad in a cobbler’s shop to people getting their shoes fixed. He played a seven-string lyre in the enharmonic genus tuned to the dorian scale.

He sang non-rhyming verses called “heroic verses” or Homeric verses. They’re kind of like dactyllic hexameters, except a few additional rules also apply (for example, the second-to-last foot must be a dactyll and the last foot must be either a spondee or trochee — that way, every verse ends with the same “shave-and-a-haircut” rhythm).

The song grows into a full orchestra of Ancient Greek instruments, but begins with an attempt to recreate exactly how Homer actually sounded in the cobbler’s shop 2,800 years ago.

Harmonics

“Invocation” is composed in the Ancient Greek enharmonic genus, tuned to the ancient hypodorian scale.

Instrumentation

“Invocation” is arranged for Ancient Greek instruments:

  • Aulos I
  • Aulos II
  • Monaulos I
  • Monaulos II
  • Proslambenomenos Aulos
  • Cithara I
  • Cithara II
  • Hydraulis
  • Crotales
  • Timpani
  • Hand claps
  • Foot stomps