Synaulia is a project consisting of Italian paleorganologist Walter Maioli (born in Milan, 1950) with his daughter Luce Maioli and Nathalie van Ravenstein. The name comes from the Greek synaulia, which in ancient Rome referred to a group of instruments consisting mainly of wind instruments.
For over 30 years Maioli has been researching and practically testing (via the group Synaulia) the origins of music, sound and musical instruments. He has travelled extensively in southern Europe, northern Africa and and the middle east to study the traditional music of these areas. The project has involved building the ancient instruments to be played and then learning to play them.
The group was founded and at first sponsored by a local museum in Leiden, Netherlands in 1995 by Maioli and choreographer and anthropologist van Ravenstein. In the beginning the Synaulia’s main task was mainly educational: the reconstruction of ancient musical instruments for the Dutch archaeological centre, Archeon. Later the scope was widened to include a more profound study into Italy’s music and dance focusing primarily on ancient Rome.
The first Synaulia release was "The Music from Ancient Rome", a two volume set, volume 1 released in 1996 being devoted to wind instruments and volume 2 released in 1999 being devoted to stringed instruments. Synaulia's music has been performed in many museums and ancient sites around the world. "The Music from Ancient Rome" has been performed in the appropriate settings of the Mausoleum of August and the thermal baths at Diocleziano.
The fruits of Synaulia’s intensive study were used as material for films, serials and documentaries about ancient Rome. (among them "The Gladiator" by Ridley Scott which used the tracks "Pavor" and "Etruria" , and the BBC-HBO television series "Rome"), the use of the instruments for scholastic purposes, as well as in the publication of numerous articles on the subject.
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