The Epitaph of Seikilos from Elaine DiFalco

ElaineThe Epitaph of Seikilos and its Reverberance in The TANK. 

Estimated as probably being created in the first century, C.E., the Epitaph of Seikilos is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) complete pieces of notated music ever discovered. Etched on a cylindrical tombstone found in southern Turkey, it is a monophonic melody set with a simple message:

     As long as you live, be happy.
     Let nothing trouble you, for life is short
     and time takes its toll.

This piece is a poignant piece to sing in The TANK. When you enter The TANK with a sense of reverence, you can immediately sense all the energy from past reverberances, much like how you feel when you walk on the worn indented stone steps of an ancient cathedral. You can see the evidence of countless footsteps, and you can feel your imperceptible contribution leaving a small trace connecting you to people across the centuries.

But the nature of sound is fleeting, and to enter The TANK you must sense your place in its lineage of visitors with your imagination only. There is no other trace unless it was captured and preserved in a recording. Singing a song composed during a life that was lived nearly 2000 years ago is to revere the song’s timeless message. Singing it in The TANK, dresses its beauty appropriately.

Life – like a natural sound – truly is short. As Seikilos says, “time takes its toll.” All things must end. But The TANK lets us hold on to a sound for a suspended moment in time – to savor it, to reflect on it, to be with it – before it slips back into the nonexistence from where it came. We so wish to hold onto things in our life we cherish that we must let pass, and we often forget to cherish and savor things in our restlessness. The TANK, and the Epitaph of Seikilos remind us to practice both of these profoundly important aspects of life – to slow down long enough to notice what is happening for it will soon disappear and you will have missed a tiny miracle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *