November 11, 2014

Contest of the Muses

Bees with Snowdrop pollen
Bees were called the birds of the Muses.
Honey was mixed with milk or water or grains of wheat as offerings to the Muses.

The Muses had several musical contests but only one was against another group of Muses. The two sets of Muses in this story were the 9 Olympian Muses and the 7 or 9 Muses of Pieria.

The Olympian Muses are the nine daughters of the Titan Mnemosyne, the Goddess of memory, names and language, and Zeus. They are the most widely known Muses today, but it took them quite some time to become the dominant version in Greek myth. The Romans assigned specific poetry, music and images to them but were not always consistent about it. They were all pictured with a lyre at one time or another.

1) Kalliope/Calliope, “of the beautiful voice,” is the Muse of epic or heroic songs. She leads the other Muses and plays the trumpet. She travels with leaders to inspire justice and thought. She settled the argument between Persephone and Aphrodite over Adonis.
Kalliope/Calliope is sometimes pictured with a scroll and stylus (pen) or holding a laurel crown and the Homeric scrolls. In Renaissance times, she played the harp or lute.
2) Kleio/Cleo, “the giver of fame,” became the Muse of history poems. She spread the use of the alphabet and plays the trumpet. She is my pick for a Muse of brass instruments.
Kleio/Cleo is sometimes pictured with a chest of scrolls/books or a water clock.
3) Thaleia, “the festive or blooming,” can be found at the theater watching a comedy when she isn’t off with her other sisters, the Graces. She teaches geometry, architecture and agriculture. She invented the plectrum, used to strum the lyre.
Thaleia is sometimes pictured with a comedy mask, shepherd’s staff and ivy wreath. In Renaissance times, she played the rebec (early violin) or viol (stringed and bowed instrument that isn’t a violin).
4) Melpomene, “the singer,” prefers tragedies and elegies. She creates chants and plays the hunting horn.
Melpomene is sometimes pictured with a tragedy mask, sword, a wreath of ivy or cypress and wearing actors’ boots. In Renaissance times, she played the bass viol.
5) Euterpe, “the giver of joy,” is the Muse of instrumental music. She plays the aulos, a double-reed instrument. She loves wind instruments, lyric poetry and education.
Euterpe is sometimes pictured with the aulos or surrounded by many instruments. In Renaissance times, she played the flute or other woodwind instruments.
6) Terpsichore, who “enjoys dancing,” plays the lyre and dances. She loves large choruses in plays and education. She is occasionally the Muse of stringed instruments.
Terpsichore is sometimes pictured dancing, wearing a laurel wreath or holding a lyre. In Renaissance times, she played the cittern or large lute.
Bleu Mantle Rose
7) Erato as the “awakener of desire” claimed erotic poetry, wedding music and dances that entice or require pairs. A prophetic priestess of Pan shares her name.
Erato is sometimes pictured wearing a rose wreath or holding a lyre or jingle ring. In Renaissance times, she played the cittern.
8) Polyhymnia/Polymnia, “many hymns,” is best known for her sacred hymns and mimic arts. But through a link with Demeter, she is also the divine prostitute, the one who grants love to all. She makes the rules of grammar and teaches geometry and agriculture.
Polyhymnia/Polymnia was sometimes pictured wearing a veil or cloak. In Renaissance times, she played the organ or clavichord.
9) Ourania, the “heavenly one,” makes predictions by watching the stars and invented astronomy. Aphrodite took Ourania’s name as one of her titles: Aphrodite Ourania “the Heavenly Aphrodite,” the merciful one who dances to the music of the spheres.
Ourania is sometimes pictured with a compass and star globe. In Renaissance times, she kept time on a drum or gong.

At first, every village or kingdom had its own local Muses. Since Pieria is thought to be the place the more organized cult of the Muses began, the seven Muses of Pieria may have been a quite early group. (Confusingly, they are sometimes called the Muses of Lesbos, but Pieria is much more common.) Finding more information about them however, is not easy. Even the meanings of their names have to be pieced together from other myths. Their mother is a nymph named Antiope or Euippe. The name Euippe is closely related to Hera Hippia and Athena Hippia, the horse Goddesses. Their father Pierus is named for the land of Pieria itself. The seven Muses are named Rhodia, Asopo, Neilo, Achelois, Tritone, Heptapora and Tipoplo and their number matches the seven mitochondrial Eves, the genetic mothers of the human race.

Rose Buds1) Rhodia is rose or rose garland or perhaps hibiscus or some other red to pink flower. Two sunny nymphs, Rhodos and Rhode, have very similar names. Some believed Rhodos was the same as Athena Hippia, and Rhode’s mother was sometimes the ocean nymph Polyphe, “of much thought.”
2) Asopo, “never silent,” is a river name. It may also mean “clever in all ways.”
3) Neilo may mean river and/or relate to the river Nile.
4) Achelois, “washes away pain,” is the name of a moon Goddess who was given offerings at the oracle of Dodona.
5) Tritone is three. Tritones are the sea creatures who look like the sea God Triton, the conch shell player. By coincidence, tritone is the name of the most famous interval in modern music theory, the augmented 4th or diminished 5th, the mid-point of the octave.
6) Heptapora is another river name, possibly one with seven springs, streams or paths.
7) Tipoplo, very tentatively, may be a bird call.

In later myths, Pierus is a mortal king who had nine daughters, instead of seven. He claimed his daughters sang as well as the more famous Muses, or he named them after the nine daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus. Whether he did this out of pride or by order of an oracle depends on which story you read. Regardless, his daughters were worshiped as the true Muses of Pieria. Before long, they challenged, or were challenged by, the nine Olympian Muses to a singing contest, which was judged by the nymphs or nature itself. The music of the contest caused the Helicon mountain to rise up into the sky until, finally, Poseidon sent Pegasus to stomp on the mountain. Springs leapt up where the winged-horse’s hooves touched the ground and the Muses were worshiped at these springs. The singing daughters of Pierus, meanwhile, were declared the losers and changed into birds, either magpies or nine different birds: the grebe, the wryneck, the ortolan (or hawk/kestrel), the jay, the green finch, the gold finch, the duck, the woodpecker, and the dracontis pigeon.

Redheaded Woodpecker
About those birds…
The translations of the nine birds are a little uncertain. For the birders out there and for those who just like this kind of puzzle, here are the Greek bird names.
1) Colymbas/Kolymbus means shrub and may be the grebe.
Bubble Bath Rose2) Iynx is the wryneck and also means spell or charm.

3) Cenchris is a kind of serpent and may be the hawk, kestrel or ortolan bunting.
4) Cissa/Kissa is the jay. Also a genus of magpies.
5) Chloris means green, may be the green finch and is used for many green birds. It is also the name of the flower Goddess who created the first rose.
6) Acalanthis/Akalanthis may be the gold finch, linnet or warbler.
7) Nessa means descending from above and may be the duck.
8) Pipo is the woodpecker.
9) Draconitis/Drakonitis is some uncertain type of bird.

Of course, anyone who enters a contest with the Gods is transformed. Some stories say it’s a reward; others that it’s a punishment. But there is no doubt that coming face to face with a God and showing exactly what you can do, exactly who you are, will change you deeply and leave you marked by having met Them. In this case, changing singers into birds, who spend their lives singing...well I leave you to decide precisely what that means.

For more on the other groups of Muses (yes, there are more), see my other Muse post, The Muses Return.

Ovid's Metamorphoses
Hesiod's Theogony
Women of Classical Mythology by Robert E. Bell
The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony by Roberto Calasso
The Gods of the Greeks by Kerenyi

October 31, 2014

Sirens the Muses of the Underworld

Hephaestus once built a temple for Apollo in Delphi, where three Muses once lived. On the temple's golden ceiling were the Keledones, the “soothing Goddesses.” They were three living, singing statues of women or wryneck birds or a mix of both. They had the same skill with song as the Sirens, whose name may mean "to entwine."

Entwining Voices
The Sirens tangled people up with their words and music. They had the wings of birds. Or the legs of birds. Or the bodies of birds. But they always have lovely faces and entrancing voices. They dart about on the edges of reality like fragments of old stories that have escaped their meanings. They were born from the earth. They are sea nymphs. They charm the wind. They are surrounded by flowers. They turn white as bone. They died when Orpheus helped the Argonauts pass them safely. They died when Odysseus took Circe’s advice to pass them tied to a mast. They sing like the Muses who wear their feathers. Hera introduced them to the Muses. They nest in Hera’s hands. They follow Artemis’s lead. Aphrodite gave them wings. Demeter took their wings. Demeter gave them wings. They serve Persephone. Their music causes obsession. Their music erases fear.
The Sirens and the Muses are too similar to avoid each other. Both are singing bird women linked to water with changeable names, numbers, instruments and homes. They exist more as ideas or groups than as individuals, but reach out to humans one to one. They put secrets and unbreakable charms into song and they all gathered flowers with Persephone. Three different Muses are called the Sirens’ mother: Terpsichore the dancing Muse, Melpomene the tragic Muse and Kalliope the epic Muse. The name of another Muse, Achelois, becomes the group title of the Sirens, the Acheloides, when they are daughters of the river God Achelous. One Siren and one Muse even have the same name, Thelxinoe “the enchantress” or “heart’s delight.”

Earth, Water and Air
The Sirens have roots in the sky, the sea and the earth. In older genealogies, they are children of a river and the earth or another river and a sky woman. The story goes that Heracles and Achelous, a shape-shifting river God, once fought each other for days. They were fighting over who would marry Deianeira or for possession of the cornucopia, the horn of plenty that Amaltheia used to feed baby Zeus. Hercules tore off one of Achelous’s horns and the blood of the fish-tailed God fell onto the earth, Gaia. The Sirens sprang up from the blood-soaked ground, mirroring the birth of Aphrodite and the Furies. But others say their father is the Acheron river and their mother is Sterope, a name also used by one of the Pleiades and a daughter of the sun.
Later, they became daughters of the sea God Phorcus/Phorcys, “the hidden dangers of the deep.” They sit on islands named for flowers with rocky shores and rapid waters that rush musically, singing and calling. Sailors say if anyone hears them and survives, the Sirens will turn to stone or die, raising the question of how the sailors knew the Sirens existed in the first place. Others say when the Sirens lost their contest with the Muses, they fell into the sea and became islands of white rock covered in wild flowers.
The Sirens have two more sets of parents. In the sky are Zeus and
Hera, the God of thunder and the Queen of heaven whose mane of hair stretches across the storm clouds. Closer to the ground are Dionysus and Coronis. Dionysus is a hidden earthly version of Zeus. Coronis is a nymph who may disguise Hera when mentioning the old Goddess by name would reveal far too many buried secrets. Hera once coaxed the Sirens into a song contest with the Muses. When the Sirens lost, they turned white, once again mirroring the Furies. The Muses took the Sirens’ wing feathers to weave into crowns; for inspiration perhaps. Yet after all this, Hera still appears holding the Sirens in her hands, honoring her inspiring little song birds.

Names, Names, Names
Single Sirens are unnamed aulos or lyre players. Their solos echo calls to initiation mysteries.
As pairs, the Sirens create harmonies with the aulos and the lyre. Their shifting names refer to glory or splendor and enchantment; Aglaopheme of the “splendid voice,” Aglaophonos the “glorious sounding,” Thelxiope who is “persuasive,” Thelxiepeia of the “enchanting words” and Thelchtereia the “soothing watcher or enchantress.”
Siren trios play aulos and lyre and sing in a mixed consort of traditions. They are the daughters of the Muse Melpomene and the horned river God Achelous, but there are two different versions of these three. One set of triplets have names that Aphrodite would approve: Peisinoe the “seductive”, Aglaope the “glorious voice” and Thelxinoe the “enchanting voice.” The other three sisters have names that Artemis might claim: Ligeia the “bright voice,” Leucosia the “white Goddess/substance,” and Parthenope the “virginal/maiden voice.”  It cannot be a coincidence that Aphrodite gave the Sirens wings when they said they wanted to be virgins, like Artemis, forever. Parthenope in particular seems to cross the boundary between these two differing Goddesses. At her tomb, torch races were held in her honor every year, a tradition of Artemis and Hecate. And she was a bird Goddess in her own right, sharing Aphrodite’s doves and swans.
The Sirens also gather in flocks, promising to tell all the stories in the world, if you will just stop your life for a moment or two. Some borrow the earlier names and others add yet more names to the list. Peisthoe the “seductive”, Pisinoe who “affects the mind,” Teles who is “perfection,” Raidne who “improves" or "sprinkles water,” Himerope whose “voice creates desire” and Molpe and her “song and dance” all spin round each other like feathers in a breeze.
And Plato tells us that there are eight Sirens, named for the scale tones, who each sing one note in perfect harmony with the spheres of the sky. The star loving Centaurs forgot to eat and starved when they heard these Sirens turning the secrets of the universe into music.

Soothing Sirens
Persephone, the Muses and the Sirens grew up together, sharing clapping games and counting rhymes. When Persephone was carried off by Hades, the Sirens asked Demeter for wings so they could search the world for their friend. But when the Sirens wouldn’t or couldn’t tell Demeter where her daughter had gone, she bound them to the earth Persephone had
vanished into. Yet after all this, the Sirens settled into places of honor in front of Persephone’s throne. They used their music to ease the fear and pain of death and guide underworld travelers through the maze of their own souls. Persephone even sent the Sirens flying back out into the world, their wings fuller than ever, carrying her blessings. And whispers began that their true mother was Chthonia, “the depths of the earth,” bringing us back round to the story of the Sirens springing out of Gaia, the earth itself.

The Sirens are the Muses who inspire Muses. The ones who make the music of the earth, sky and sea. They are the overwhelming, uncontrollable side of inspiration that awes and terrifies us. They blur boundaries, create common ground, speak unsettling truths and guide us to hidden realities. They created the steps of the scale and accidentals. They are the sweetest possible antidote to loss, sorrow and fear of the unknown.
Nest and Red Buds
see The Muse Contest and The Muses Return for more on the Muses.

Ovid's Metamorphoses
Hesiod's Theogony
Women of Classical Mythology by Robert E. Bell
The Gods of the Greeks by Kerenyi

August 1, 2014

Of the Muses I Sing

 As with all Greek mythology, the details of the Muses’ story are a little changeable.  They seem to have started out as nymphs associated with springs and fountains that bring inspiration. Since the different regions in Greece each had their own inspiring springs, the Muses had different names and numbers in the various myths.
At times, the Muses almost exist without any family and are named for the music they make. There are three Muses named for three different types of instruments (strings, winds and percussion usually). Other times, they are named for vocal, instrumental and dance music. And I once read that one Muse was born from the movement of water, one from the movement of air and one was embodied in the human voice.

Muses were often worshipped at fountains
Tame(ish) Fountain
When the Muses' parents are Ouranos (the Sky) and Gaia (the Earth) there are usually 1 (Mnemosyne), 3 (Melete, Mneme and Aoede) or 4 (Arche, Thelxinoe, Aoede and Melete) of them.  
Mnemosyne is sometimes called the first Muse and this is the only name that appears as a solitary Muse figure. She is considered the Goddess of memory and language partly because the first thing she did was to name everything in existence so they could be sung about.
Other times, there are three Muse sisters; Melete “practicing/meditation”, Mneme “remembering” and Aoede “singing.” Under these names, they are living versions of how poets and musicians work. This set is also described as the Titan Muses, the older generation. Mnemosyne was at times considered a fourth Muse of this group.
Another group of four Muses descended from either Gaia or a Nymph named Plusia and Ouranos or Zeus use the names Arche (beginning), Thelxinoe (the heart delighting), Aoede (song), and Melete (more practicing).

When their parents are Zeus and Mnemosyne (Goddess of memory, time and prophecy) there are usually 9 sisters. They were all born at once, were addicted to song and had dancing-grounds on mountains and near fountains and wells. Artemis led them in singing hymns and circle dances. At first, Apollo played the aulos, a double-reed instrument, with the Muses but switched to the lyre after Hermes invented it. They were also companions of Dionysus, the other God of music. The Muses traveled wrapped in clouds and their voices could only be heard at night. They lived with the Graces and are the patrons of poets and musicians.

Other traditions make the three Muses the daughters of Apollo. These three are sometimes named after the lowest, middle and highest strings on the lyre or are called Kephiso "of the river Kephiso", Apollonis "daughter of Apollo" and Borysthenis "strength."
And there are Muses whose names we have lost completely. Polymatheia "much learning/knowledge" is the only surviving name from a set of 3 Muses worshiped at Sicyon.
The House of the Muses Today
Home of the Muses
The number of Muses steadily increases (the 7 Muse daughters of Pierus are Neilo, Tritone, Asopo, Heptapora, Achelois, Tipoplo, and Rhodia; for more on them see The Muse Contest) until nine is the most accepted number. Eventually, a tradition developed of assigning specific forms of poetry, and the music that went with it, to individual Muses. The precise list of who was linked with which art form changes depending on which writer you are reading but here is a general list of associations.

-Kleio “the giver of fame” took charge of history poems. She played horns and trumpets. Two other Muses in this group play brass instruments.
-Euterpe “the giver of joy” played the aulos, directed all instrumental music and was in charge of lyric poetry. Euterpe is called a flute player so often, it is nearly impossible to convince people otherwise and really, I like having a Muse connected to my particular instrument. But the aulos has no relation to the flute. It was a double-reed instrument with no true modern equivalent. I consider her the Muse of woodwind instruments.
-Thaleia “the festive or blooming” led the music of comedy and comic plays.
-Melpomene “the singer” had charge of music for tragedies and elegies and played horn.
-Terpsichore “enjoys dancing” danced and played the lyre. In some lists, she is in charge of choral songs.
-Erato “awakener of desire” inspired erotic poetry, danced and wedding music. In some lists, she is in charge of mimic imitation.
-Polymnia or Polyhymnia “many hymns” sang story-telling songs. Others say she is in charge of religious hymns and/or mimic arts.
-Ourania “heavenly one” studied astronomy and played a drum or a gong to keep time.
-Kalliope “beautiful voice” was awarded epic or heroic songs and played trumpet.

In the myths, the Muses are most often referred to as the musical accompaniment at celebrations and funerals attended by the Gods. Poets generally praised them at the opening and closing of any song, partly in hopes of performing well. There are stories of false Muses (sometimes nine daughters of a king) challenging the Muses either in a song contest or by setting up their own cult. Like most Greek Gods, the Muses do not take the challenge well. When the true Muses sang, the sky, stars, sea and rivers all stood still and a fountain sprang up on Mount Helicon. They then turned the challengers into birds, either magpies or nine different songbirds. Since the Muses themselves were able to turn into birds, this leaves the question of who the true Muses were open for debate. Sometimes one of the Muses is claimed as the mother of the Sirens, another group of singing bird women. The Sirens are also said to have challenged the Muses. The Muses then stripped their feathers from their wings and wore them as crowns. Nearly every singer, musician or poet in mythology is said to be a child of one of the Muses or at least raised and taught by them. And a shocking number of them are punished by the Muses for various offenses. Blinding is one of their favorite punishments, but considering the tradition of blind poets and musicians, one has to wonder...
Forest Creek
Wild Spring
The Muses are worshiped at fountains, springs and wells. They teach the arts of healing and prophecy. They know how to lie and reveal the truth. They sing in consort, dance in rounds and whisper into our dreams. They are Goddesses of art, science and knowledge and they remember everything that has ever happened. They inspire creativity of all kinds and they bring forgetfulness of sorrows and cares. The Orphics worshiped the Muses especially and said there were two springs in the underworld that the dead could drink from, the spring of Mnemosyne “memory” and the spring of Lethe “forgetfulness”.

Smile on my little song, Ladies of delight. Bring me foresight, sweet melodies, freedom from sorrows and a good memory.

For more info about the Muses, see my other Muse posts.

July 19, 2014

Daily Musings

A while back, I decided to work on memorizing more music. I've always kind of slacked in that department and I've also always wished I didn't. So I've started keeping a musical journal where I record things I'm trying to play by memory along with some of the daily improvisations I create. Not sure where this will take me but I intend to share bits and pieces as I go.

Improv based on O'Carolan's "Farewell to Music"

"Carolan's Dream"

I'm mixing up the "simpler" folk tunes (some of which aren't that simple!) with Telemann and Troubadour music. The idea is that there will be some songs I learn more easily (which will hopefully encourage me) while I'm struggling with the longer pieces. In time, I hope to share a wider variety of tunes.

April 21, 2014

Dark Sky Music

Moon Rise
Rising Moon
Dark Sky Week is April 20-26
Playing flute around the middle of the night is a habit for me. One reason is I’m a night owl and this is a convenient time to get some practicing done. But the music that wells up at this time is often different than during the daylight. Pieces have life in them even when I am still learning their twists and turns. Improvisations speak more deeply and enchant me for longer. Even the technique exercises become freer and more fluid at this time of night. This is when I can imagine that only the owls and the trees can hear me. This is when self-consciousness fades away into nothing and anything is possible. On especially nice nights, I sometimes go outside and play on the patio where only starlight reflects off the flute.
Of course, I can be heard just as clearly at this time as during the sunny hours. Many, if not all, of my neighbors have commented on the “mysterious” flute player in the woods out here. Some have even told me that they love sitting out on their porches and waiting to hear the flute music roll down the hill. If anything, the darkness creates a more noticeable spotlight for the music than the brightest stage-light. But only for the sound. Most of my neighbors never guess who the musician is. Even those who know I play flute usually don’t realize it’s me until someone tells them. Why, I’m not quite sure. Unless that element of nighttime mystery crept into the music and hid my identity. This may be why I like playing in the dark. My own sense of self is less noticeable and the music can simply be another nightly creature in the woods. Raccoons and possums have wandered by as the notes tumbled round the patio. The crickets and tree-frogs keep time with the exploring rhythms. The trees dance with both the wind and the motivic melodies. Stage-lights create the illusion of being surrounded by darkness but this is the real thing. There is nothing to hide from and no reason to try.
Turn off the lights, even the spotlight, and see where the music goes.

Moon in Clouds

April 5, 2014

April Improvisations, May Compositions?

April is here at long last but the trees are still barely budded. I've been waiting and waiting for the spring storms to roll their way across the roof and inspire new notes with each thunderclap. But instead I find myself hearing gentle rains pattering lightly on the ground. Light little taps of a watery baton. The new tunes aren't flashing into my mind this season but they are slowly building up. Each note slithers its way onto the staff like seeds sliding into the ground.
My garden doesn't grow in rows since I'm much too impatient to make the plants behave. Instead the sprouts scatter over wide areas and pop up in places I'm sure I didn't plant them. But the patterns they make are all the more lovely for that. I've taken to writing several versions of a new melody idea for similar reasons. There isn't just one pattern for the notes to follow when I play and for the life of me, I can't decide on one to commit to the still paper version. But when three different versions twist round each other on the page, I am happy and content. I don't have to set these songs in stone; they can leap about into new and unexpected designs. The improvisation and the composition can exist side by side after all.
I was late ordering seeds this spring which has worked out well for once. The cold kept returning, making me grateful there wasn't much in the garden to get nipped by the frost. I feel the same about how long I took before learning to compose. I didn't study the subject in school; I didn't take the classes that my composing friends complained about so bitterly. The rules and restrictions in those classes would have driven me mad. I understand the point of using structure to develop a creative skill (and use the idea in many ways) but the rules about which intervals could be used and the patterns of melodies that were allowed were not the structure I needed. I needed to follow the notes down into the dark depths of the musical forest, where even the deer trails disappear and learn to find my way about by listening to the notes alone. I needed to have the freedom explore the different ways the harmonies worked from year to year, within their wild home. It took a great deal of time and in many ways I am still lost in the woods but I feel at home there and I have found new and unexpected skills within my musical creations. Little sprigs of ideas appear like mushroom caps and early wild flowers after a rain. And when I let them grow at their own pace, without hurrying them, they often surprise me with their beauty.
I do grow salad greens inside as well and this year was no exception. The broccoli raab I planted back in January has been a great and unending delight all this long winter. The window box of green florets sits beside my music stand in my practice room where I can look out the window as I work on scales and memorizing. My breath makes the leaves toss and turn at times and I can imagine the plants are dancing to the music. I've watched the winter season through that window with each practice session and gloried in the tiny changes I was seeing. And hearing.
It may have taken a long time but there is no doubt. It is the budding season, the time of new growth and new ideas. The bird-calls fill the days and the coyote-howls fill the nights. Soon, I will take myself outside to practice, to give the note-seeds room to grow and to delight in the spring.

January 1, 2014

Athena and Hermes Musical Invention

Athena and Hermes. Aulos and lyre. Pipes and strings. And the much neglected trumpet and shepherd's pipe. These are Gods of innovation, new uses and thoughts. These are also the Gods who gave away their creations without hesitation. To pay for a theft or because of a glance in the mirror, they tossed their instruments aside for others to play. They could always make more.

Hermes’s story is always good for a laugh so let’s begin there. Three days after he was born, Hermes had already gotten bored with behaving himself. So off he went to his brother’s pastures and stole Apollo’s cows. He cooked them up and settled down to some inventing. He caught and killed a tortoise and used it’s shell and the guts of the sun God’s cows to build the first lyre in the world (well, so he said.) When Apollo finally found the little thief, the chords that poured out of the lyre stopped him in his tracks. Singing with the Muses and playing reed pipes suddenly seemed like ancient history compared to the thought of playing this new instrument. And Hermes, clever little trickster that he is, offered not only to give Apollo the lyre but to teach him how to play it. In exchange for the cows that he had already stolen.
After Apollo left to write up he’s newly created rules of harmony, Hermes skipped off and gathered reeds to build a syrinx (though some say he stole that instrument from Pan and who’s to say which one of these two is more trustworthy) and continued to fill his after dinner hours with new music.
Once, Zeus asked Hermes for help getting past Argos, the hundred eyed monster who never slept. Hermes took his syrinx and played lullabies to Argos until all of his eyes finally closed. Some say that Apollo traded his golden staff and lessons in prophecy for Hermes’ shepherd's pipe.

Athena’s music by contrast seems to be tied to sorrow and pain. She had given Perseus the tools he needed to kill Medusa of course but when Medusa died, her sisters wept. And keened. And sang. Athena, the war Goddess, promptly dropped her spear and began shaping a pair of reeds into a double-reed instrument, the aulos. Athena could use this hollow tube to transform all the sorrow and grief of the world into laments and dirges that broke and healed the hearts that heard them.
And then, as suddenly as she started, Athena stopped playing. Some say she didn’t like how she looked in the mirror, others that Hermes made fun of how her cheeks puffed out. But maybe she knew others would need some way to release their deepest, musical voice and that is why she dropped her reed pipes to the ground. But even after she stopped playing, the Goddess’s breath still lived in the aulos. They hummed in the forest until a satyr named Marsyas found them and brought their melodies back to the world.
She guarded and supported the musicians of Olympus, the Muses. She caught and tamed Pegasus, the winged horse child of Medusa, and gave him to the Muses for their pleasure and delight.
She was called Athena Salpinx (war trumpet) in Argos and she is credited with inventing all forms of art that require time and study.

These two Gods are the inventors of their pantheon. Each new object they create draws gasps of amazement and becomes sacred in an eye blink. But these two beings barely seem to notice how precious their inventions are. They hand their creations off to others without a second thought, knowing that the most valuable gift they are giving us is the ability to imagine new ways to use the objects they leave scattered around us.