I teach Classics at Jesus College Oxford, and research the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. I also perform as a cellist, formerly my profession, and did so in my TEDx talk. My current work is on the sound of ancient Greek music, a topic that spans my interests in Classics, music, poetry, psychology — and innovation.
I write a clog i.e. an intermittent blog; posts are listed on the left.
Hearing ancient Greek music
My current project is the investigation and reconstruction of ancient Greek music, as described in Song of the Sirens. I describe the research in a tantalising 4-minute taster film made for BBC TV, and more expansively in a recent interview with Greek Television (Jan 2017).
21 Jan: Interview with veteran report Labis Tsirigotakis on Greek Channel ERT 1 for around 10 mins (on his programme ‘In the shadow of Big Ben’) available on this link.
13 Dec: The first performance of a chorus from Euripides’ Orestes in the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, with three singers representing the chorus accompanied by aulos played by Barnaby Brown. Dr John Birchall writes:
Hearing the first musically convincing performance of Ancient Greek music is an indescribable privilege. You have the good fortune to have produced results of real significance.
23 Jul: Oxford has awarded me a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship 2016-17 to reconstruct and film a chorus of Euripidean music preserved on papyrus (left).
16 Jul: A unique research-driven performance of ancient Greek music in the magnificent Nereid Gallery in the British Museum. Performers from the UK and Europe played reconstructed double-pipes (auloi), flutes, and kitharas, captivating a 300-strong audience with sounds that date back thousands of years.
4 July: Keynote Lecture at King’s College London Conference: Sounds of the Hellenic World.
5 April: Radio programme on the history of vegetarianism: Pythagoras and the basis of musical intervals, with a sung line of an Orphic Hymn at 22 mins 10.
Sep 2015: My TED lesson ‘The Ancient Origins of the Olympic Games’ has been viewed over 500,000 times. (My TED ‘Eureka’ has been going since March 2015 – see below – and been accessed far more).
Jul 2015 In memoriam Martin West
May 2015 BBC4 Sappho: I speak at 26.30 mins about the music of Sappho’s songs.
A podcast of my talk on innovation at the Oxford Business School event (4 March) ‘Engaging with the Humanities’.
July 2014 BBC Online: 10 mysteries from ancient Greece.
Daily Mail Online article (29 Oct 2013): ‘100% accurate’ is, of course, quoted out of context.
Oct 2013 I translate into Latin a motto on a rock band T-shirt.
July 2013 My article Plato and Play in American Journal of Play, spurred by a misattribution to Plato by Sarah Palin of the idea that ‘you can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation’.
Jan 2013 Review of my book in Bryn Mawr Classical Review: ‘dazzling…fascinating…not to be missed’.
I’ve completed a book about creativity and innovation called Eureka, to be published by Princeton University Press.