Hydraulics: tool composition, principle of operation, history, use

Hydraulics: tool composition, principle of operation, history, use

Gladiator fights, theatrical performances, military gatherings, solemn processions in ancient Greece and Rome were invariably accompanied by the powerful sounds of hydravlos. For several centuries, a musical instrument has been a sign of status and wealth. Having lost its significance, it gave rise to the birth of beautiful organ music.

Design and function

Music was created by blowing air through a spherical body submerged in water. The liquid came from natural sources, such as waterfalls. The air was pumped by miniature windmills. The water level was constantly changing, the excess air flow entered the pipe and was distributed to individual tubes of diatonic tuning. So it was in Heron’s device. But Ctesibius, an ancient Greek mathematician, was the first to invent an ancient water organ.

Later, the Romans added a valve system to the device. The musicians pressed a special key that opened the shutter of the chamber, changing the height of the stream column. It passed through 7-18 tubes of various sizes, made of metal and leather. The sound was determined by 3-4 registers. Several musicians were supposed to play the hydraulics at once. Usually these were specially trained slaves.

Hydraulics: tool composition, principle of operation, history, use


During antiquity in Greece, the hydraulics very quickly became the main musical instrument that sounded at all major events, and was also used for home music. The water organ was expensive, only noble people could own it. Gradually, the instrument spread throughout the Mediterranean, in imperial Rome its sound was used during the oath when entering a public office.

In the XNUMXth century, hydraulics “came” to Europe. Due to its powerful sound, it was perfect for accompanying choral church singing. In the XNUMXth century, it could be seen in almost all churches. The pagans did not bypass the water organ. They used it at feasts, in orgies, for religious ceremonies. Therefore, over time, the opinion spread about the sinfulness of the music of hydraulics.

But by this time the design had already been improved by the masters, a modern organ appeared. The only surviving copy, restored from images on ancient mosaics, can be seen in one of the museums in Budapest. It is dated 228 BC.

First performance of the reproduction Roman (or Greek) Hydraulis Organ at Bath

Leave a Reply