The Romans did not have any musical genius to speak of, and they would take all their art, including music, from the Greeks. The Greeks were very intelligent and great lovers of art, especially their own. The Romans on the other hand were brutes in comparison, virtually bred to fight, with no interest in art unless it represented dominance and destruction. Roman music then, must have been Greek music obviously, but stripped of its beauty and expression.
To the Greek, Art of any kind was something great and almost holy. To the Roman, Art of any kind was just for relaxation. Roman music is thus simply Greek music in a decadent and corrupted condition, a thing of no artistic value. The only influence upon music by the Romans was in the development of wind instruments. A race of savage fighting men, the Romans regarded military music a lot more seriously than any other type of the art; essentially practical men, they could readily appreciate its usefulness ; and, in this respect, they remind one of the elderly warrior who expressed that music was all very well on parade, but should not be allowed to interfere with conversation.
In the Roman armies trumpets of various kinds were used, some of them being of immense proportions. All the military musical instruments were of brass, and comprised the tuba, a straight trumpet something like a modern post-horn in shape; the cornu, or horn, bent nearly in the form of a circle; the lituus, or clarion, slightly bent at the end; and the buccina, shaped like the horn, but much bigger, the tube was up to twelve feet long. Of these, the tuba was used by the infantry, the lituus by the cavalry.
The most interesting feature in connection with Roman musical life is its wide distribution across the world. This has ever since remained a prominent characteristic of musical art. Into Rome drained all the wealth, knowledge, and luxury of the known world. Greek philosophers and artists, Egyptian priests, men of all races from across the Alps, Jewish converts to Christianity, fleeing from persecution in their own country, all gravitated towards Rome. It was among these warring influences that the early Christian Church, preserver and regenerator of music, was quietly growing in power and influence; and, with the coming of Christianity, music no longer belonged to one country but to the whole world.
Michael Shaw is an organ and keyboard teacher and sells sheet music and tutor books at his websites http://www.keyboardsheetmusic.co.uk and http://www.mikesmusicroom.co.uk