Ryan explained what instruments were used at public performances, what the theaters looked like, and who sat in the audience. He also talked about music during dramatic readings, comedies, pantomimes and street performances. The most important of these musicians were the soloists, the analogue rock stars of Roman times.
Roman concerts were for famous soloists. These men toured the empire demanding huge fees and filling theaters wherever they went. their arrogance was legendary. A singer refused to perform for Emperor Augustus simply because he didn’t feel like it. But the best performers inspired something, pushing the aristocratic ladies to fight for lying plectrums and strings.
Dark performances also took place at religious rituals, sacrifices, gladiatorial events, organized hunts and executions.
Music was actually everywhere in ancient Rome. It was an integral part of religious rituals since each sacrifice had to be accompanied by the trill of the flute played by members of a specialized guild. Hymns honoring the gods were sung at festivals, sometimes by choirs of boys and girls from elite Roman families, sacred processions filled the streets with a roar of bagpipes and drums.