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.
Supported by a British Academy Fellowship, in 2013-15 I investigated ancient Greek music, as described in Song of the Sirens. The project will continue for years to come as new evidence comes to light, and instruments and melodies are reconstructed. I describe the project in a tantalising 4-minute taster film, and more expansively in an interview with Greek Television (Jan 2017).
21 Jan: Interview with veteran report Labis Tsirigotakis on Greek Channel ERT 1 about my project to reconstruct ancient Greek music, for around 15 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 took place in the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, with three singers representing the chorus accompanied by aulos played by Barnaby Brown. 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; a few bars of the original are preserved on papyrus (left).
16 Jul: A unique research-driven performance of ancient Greek music was presented in the magnificent setting of the Nereid Gallery in the British Museum. Performers drawn from across the UK and Europe played reconstructions of ancient double-pipes (auloi), flutes, and kitharas, captivating a 300-strong audience with sounds and musical texts derived from ancient sources, some of which 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: I speak about Pythagoras and the basis of musical intervals, and sing a 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.