The Epitaph of Seikilos is the oldest surviving complete musical composition from anywhere in the world. Dated variously from around 200 BC to around AD 100, the epitaph speaks to living a life without regret against the finality of time. Seikilos on the Riff takes fragments of the Seikilos melody and reworks them in a propulsive riff-like manner. The work unfolds much like the progression of the four lines of the epitaph. Beginning with youthful energy, the work begins with a dance-like music with motives and fragments interrupting syncopated pulses. A drunken middle slumber reveals more of the original melody, but warped by the exhaustion of the first section. A transition to turmoil introduces a rising chromatic scale figure that expands and contracts through changing meters. The work concludes by returning to the character of the dance-like and carefree music of the beginning.
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands an end.
February 3, 2017; Yi Ji-Young, Honolulu, HI, USA
Janurary 31, 2020; Hyunchae Kim, Seoul, South Korea
February 3, 2017
Yi Ji-Young, Gayageum