The Aulos ( from ancient Greek αὐλός, Aulós, "tube", Pl. auloi ) is a scoring to the winds reed instrument of antiquity. The player of this instrument is called Aulet ( gr αὐλητής ).

The Aulos had usually two cylindrical or slightly conical melody pipes that were not connected to each other and kept playing V-shaped. The tubes were made of bone, reeds or wood, in later times made ​​of metal or ivory. Interlude tube ( Bombyx ) and mouthpiece ( zeugos ) sat two egg - or trapezoidal thickened sections of holmos and hypholmion. Auloi came in many types and sizes; the tubes obtained measure approximately between 30 and 55 cm, antique news show also significantly longer forms.

The oldest surviving instruments each tube has five finger holes, including a thumb hole second from the top; often came to a sixth not gripped hole. In Hellenistic and Roman times the number of holes was greatly increased. By wax or metal rings holes could be opened or closed, resulting in the range could be varied.

Doubled reed instruments already existed in ancient Egypt under the name Memet. In the Etruscans appropriate instruments Subulo were called. In ancient Rome, the type of instrument was called Tibia.


According to legend, the Aulos of Athena was invented to imitate the lament of the Gorgons. But the goddess threw away the instrument, when she noticed that the blowing into disfigured her facial features. The aulos was lifted from the satyr Marsyas. The game it pleased him so much that he challenged the lyre -playing Apollo to a contest. However, the Muses Apollo declared the winner. Then hung up on this Marsyas as a punishment for his mischief on a Spruce ( The Sacred Tree of Cybele ) and pulled him alive the skin.

Playing technique and sound

Show pictures, written sources and archaeological finds that the aulos was a reed instrument, even if the word is often wrongly translated as " flute ". It was played with a single reed ( surcharge tongue ) or double reed ( counter-strike tongue).

The game (probably with circular breathing, as encountered in the traditional instruments of the Mediterranean region and in Asia to date) was supported by an oral bandage (Greek phorbeia, lat capistrum ). The blowing pressure required depends primarily on the reeds used and is generally higher than with single reeds with double reeds.

Auloi have received consistently different on both game tubes finger holes, which excludes a unanimous game.

The sound of the instrument varied with the different constructions. In cylindrical bore of the tube and single-reed it should correspond to the traditional single-reed instruments. In cylindrical acoustic tube and double tube sheet scale and size of the tube sheet are more in the Krummhorn than in this context often called duduk. In a conical bore and double reed sound would shawms -like; Instruments with a conical bore have yet to be found.

In Greek illustrations only doubled instruments are shown. Literary but also the making of music on a single sound tube, the monaulos, occupied.

After the instrument the sound system of the Aulos mode is named, its relevance but is now no longer represented for the ancient aulos.

History and distribution

Oldest certificates

From Ancient Egypt (4th Dynasty, 2639-2504 BC ) comes a statue found in the necropolis of Giza with a double instrument. Since the 5th Dynasty ( 2504-2347 BC), this Memet called reed instrument takes on pictorial representations. Archaeological specimens are from the Middle Kingdom received (about 2010 BC - 1793 BC). From the Late Period ( 664-332 BC) as well as from the Hellenistic-Roman period ( 4th century BC - 4th century AD ) are very well preserved some specimens of reeds. These instruments should have been played exclusively with single reeds. The dual sound tubes were kept in parallel. They are to be regarded as the direct forerunner of today in the Near East and the Mediterranean widespread instruments. (See Sipsi, Midschwiz and launeddas ).

Among the oldest examples also include a Cycladic idol of the island of Keros in the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, showing a Auleten, which plays a preform of the doubled Aulos with relatively short, presumably conical tubes.

In Crete can be found from the Minoan period ( mid- 2nd millennium BC), the well-preserved figure of a double aulos, one game tube carries an upwardly curved horns. The tubes are kept parallel and almost reach the arm length of the player.

A Sardinian bronze statuette ( about 1000 BC ) shows a preform of the obtained there to this day triple launeddas or Benas. The approximately 8 cm high figure shows a player holding three equally long cylindrical tubes play in the mouth that are gripped with arms outstretched at the bottom.

From the Hallstatt period, the representation of a double horn whistle was found in Százhalombatta (Hungary). A figurine from the context of the Eastern Hallstatt Circle ( 6th century BC ) is a person who plays two horn pipes in V- position. The tubes are shown approximately as long as an arm. The lower ends of the tubes are introduced into the game, the hollow bulge of the horns, for example by one third of the length in front of the horn tip of the horn.

Classical antiquity

Since around 700 BC, copies of the Greek Aulos, representations and literary evidence is obtained. Already in Pindar (died mid-5th century BC), the use of thin ore for the instrument is mentioned.

After a description of Theophrastus changed in the middle of the 4th century, the variety of the " unformed " ( aplastos ) for " shaped " ( plasei ) game. The reeds were cut earlier in the year and were therefore more elastic. Possibly. could thus have been connected and the transition to " lippendirigierten " game.

The Etruscan Subulo seems to have the Greek instruments of the classical period largely complied with. Figures show the lower end of the sound tubes with a slightly flared bell. On a fresco in the Tomba Francesca Giustiniani ( anaglotte ) Easy reeds are recognizable, which would otherwise be hidden in the oral cavity. When Tomba dei Leopardi instrument from the upper ends of the tubes are sold game red. This is the first evidence to suggest for a metal ring, which amplifies this tube at the location where the holmos is pressed.

From the Etruscans, the Romans took over the doubled reed instrument, that is Latin tibia. In Hellenistic and Roman times, the instruments were partly manufactured professionally. In addition to wood and tube and brass, the silver, and ivory now be used. The number of holes can be increased to 18. Some of these holes was opened or closed in order to change the range .. holes below the tangible holes are to be regarded as sound holes through lumps of wax or silver twist rings. This could be provided with removable tubular or funnel-shaped towers, which apparently influenced the tone. In addition to the elaborate instruments persisted simple.

In Roman times, "right" and "left " tibiae were distinguished, the right was longer and deeper sound, the left shorter or higher. The right was the leading, left the accompanying pipe. In addition to the interaction of unequal pipes, is also the two "equal ", usually of two right, occupied.

Had the two tubes of the tibia - with different length - same number of finger holes, it was called Serranía or Lydian tibia. The Phrygian tibia had a different number of finger-holes on both tubes. She told one of the tubes (usually the left ) a elymos called bell horn. Also the tube end could be bent upwards and run out into a small funnel. In addition to those mentioned here, there were other types of instruments that are only known by name.

The southernmost distribution area Hellenistic Auloi on the Nile is Meroe, where multiple copies of ivory and metal were found in the city and in the North Cemetery, which are dated to the year 15 BC to 2 BC.