Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ancient Musical Instruments

Music is as old as passion and some even say that it is the outward representation of our innermost being. Here we see that even ancient people love music and have developed their own musical styles and instruments; however, they’re music was considered sacred and it was only played for their gods in temples and as an amusement to their kings. We should be so fortunate that we now can enjoy various kinds of music from all over the world transcending different cultures from thousands of years of development.

Sumerian music
The Sumerian songs were mostly dedicated to the Goddess Innana as this was evident in royal burial sites. Music was an integral part of their society and they used it for civic and religious rites and occasions as well as for the royal families and to entertain their rulers. There were even rituals that the Sumerians performed before playing the instruments, like for instance a stringed instrument player would wash their hands before playing it. Meanwhile a group of girl dancers would use clappers to serve as an accompanying rhythm to the lyre. Over the years wind instruments and the drums evolved as they realized percussion instruments and the flute would enhance the symphony better. Many of the Sumerian musical instruments were also adapted by other neighboring cultures in Mesopotamia and among them include reed pipes, lutes, harps, lyres and drums. Their musicians were trained in special musical schools since childhood so that they will become proficient around the age of 20.

Egyptian music
Egyptian music on the other hand is purely dedicated to the gods and in some cases to war (particularly the trumpeters and drummers); the musicians too were exclusive to female members of the community. They would even hold titles that grant them power and authority similar to a governor or a high priest. Most of the musical instruments and songs were dedicated to the Gods like Hathor, Bes, Isis and Sekhmet and the most common instruments they used were the menits, wooden clappers, crotals, cymbals, sistrum and round and rectangular frame drums. The goal of the musicians is to create a spell called the heka and it’s supposed to protect them from evil spirits. The pro-female music community of Egypt also received special training from their music schools and they are called "sem'ayt, most of them are either the wives or daughters of the priest.

Greek music
The Greeks were the ones who pioneered freedom and democracy and so one would expect that their music is as spirited and used for various occasions as ours do today. Just like their celebrated history, Grecian music is also diverse and beautiful. There are two kinds of ancient Greek music and those are the traditional music and Byzantine music with the latter being inclined to a more eastern sound. The musical compositions have traversed from the Byzantine period all the way through the Greek antiquity and an obvious continuous development can be observed in the structure, the melody and the overall rhythm of their songs. The significant aspect of music is equally important both within Greece and in the diaspora as well as the Hellenic culture. The common Greek musical instruments include the Aulos, Barbiton, Chelys, Water organ, Crotalum,  Harp, Kithara, Lyre, Organon, Pan flute, Pandura, Salpinx, Psaltery, Tambourine, Pontian lyra, Trigonon, Cochilia, Crotala, Koudounia, Lavta, Epigonion, Phorminx, Lute, Thaboura, Klarino, Tambouras, Metallophone, Lalitsa and the Mantura.

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