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Arched Wooden Harp

 
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wysingm
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 3:00 am    Post subject: Arched Wooden Harp Reply with quote

Arched Wooden Harp



From the tomb of Thauenany (Any), in a private cemetery at Qurna (Western Thebes)
New Kingdom, XVIII Dynasty, 1534-1296 B.C.
Housed at the British Museum

Model ladle-shaped harp made of wood, inlaid with bone and faience. The sound box has the head of deity wearing a double crown and striped head-dress at its end. The underside and lower part of the harp's neck are decorated with a floral pattern. The falcon head at the top of the neck is characteristic of this type of harp.

The tranquil and hypnotic sound of the harp was thought to please the gods and so it was often played as a solo instrument; it was also used to accompany a singer, or as part of an elaborate orchestra. Large floor harps were popular during the Old Kingdom (Ruiz 2001: 61). Scholars have sought to discover some form of musical notation system from ancient Egypt, but have been unable to do so.

Africa's distribution of the arched harp


Map from Blench (2002)

British linguist, ethnomusicologist/development anthropologist Roger Blench wrote:

"If we have a possible historical scenario for the spread of the arched harp, then it is worth attaching some plausible dates to it, based on what evidence there is from North Africa and Egypt. The following is a highly tentative historical scenario for the arched harp:

1. Evolution in Egypt/ Near East/ North Africa 5000 BP
2. Spread eastwards shortly afterwards
3. Spread along North African coast by 4000 BP
4. Spread through the Central Sahara 3000 BP onwards
5. Spread down the Nile 3000 BP onwards
6. Nucleus area forms in Mandara mountains 2500 BP onwards
7. Spread to Central Africa 2000 BP onwards
8. Spread to Southern Cameroun/Gabon after 1500 BP
9. Spread to source of Nile region 1000 BP

It seems most likely that the harp was widespread in both North Africa and the Near East some 5000 years ago and that it spread southwards, both down the Nile corridor and directly across the desert from North Africa. One reason for thinking this is that arched harps are regularly illustrated in rock-paintings from the Ennedi in Chad (Bailloud 1997, ill. 109, 155). The Ennedi rock-paintings are not directly dated and must be assigned to phases based on style and content. The earliest illustration of an arched harp is in the pre-cameline period which can be assigned to prior to 2000 BP (Blench 2002). This rock-painting was judged sufficiently iconic to be reproduced on a Chadian postage stamp in 1967."



Reference:

Bailloud, Gerard. Art Rupestre en Ennedi: Looking for Rock Paintings and Engravings in the Ennedi Hills Saint-Maur: Editions SÚpia, 1997.
Blench, Roger. Reconstructing African Music History: Methods and Results, SAFA Conference, 2002
Ruiz, Ana. The Spirit of Ancient Egypt, Algora Publishing, 2001

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:19 am    Post subject: Beautiful Reply with quote

So beautiful and exquisite.... takes my breath away..... wow....very lovely harp....

Hmm but those are tuning keys i see.... Indicating pickiness about pitch, weather or not it matches up with the modern pitches we tune to.... no idea... It is evidently, that they played together in groups though and acompanied eachother.... (Benn doing a little research of my own...) It also seems music is associated with Thoth.... Honestly, i find it nearly clinically impossible, as they also had those teaching atleast vocal music, which indicates a certain.... academics.... It is really hard to imagine they did not have written notation. It just doesn't make sense.... Atleast not so far as the professional and trained musicians go. It is definately possible that the average farmer did not use such notation.... But seriously, playing in groups..... it is a very needed evil. Without it.... You wind up with noise as opposed to music.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 3:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Beautiful Reply with quote

Mandi wrote:
It is really hard to imagine they did not have written notation. It just doesn't make sense.... Atleast not so far as the professional and trained musicians go.

I don't think that written notation is a necessity at all. I've played music on the piano before, and when I was at school I was in the steel drums band ( Embarassed don't ask! Laughing ), but I can't read music, or at least, not quickly enough to keep up with a song. Anything that I've ever wanted to play on a musical instrument, I've always committed the notes to memory (I'm not alone in this, as I know many people that do the same). I would think that any tunes the ancient Egyptians learnt to play were traditional and the notes to play were passed on orally. Therefore, no written notation would be necessary; just a very good memory. Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 4:47 pm    Post subject: hmmm Reply with quote

Cool, glad you had a teacher willing to spend the time and agony.....

my first instrement was a violin put in my hands at age 2 by a guy who played with the boston pops, who lived at the commune By age 6 i could read music somewhat alright..... At 4 i started taking real lessons. And a few years later when i was old enough to take proper care of it the harp was put in my hands. I have done some interesting recording in my 20s manufactured instruments and even did a couple semesters as a music major. I have played harp and cello in group performances etc... I have also taught music had regular gigs for several years.... Music was my whole world from age 2 and onward. I have sung with some of the best both in boston and possibly the world been the protegee of one of the Met's best..... went to music based summer camps as a child.... ummm.....Studied music history, theory, ear trainingvoice several instruments, wrote a 30 page paper on the systems and functions of the body to produce vocal music.... Looked into and worked with various ancient and cultural music......
Seriously i could keep going for months....

It is improbable to me, that any higher functioning music could have been produced on a level considered professional by modern people or ancient egyptians. withouth sheet music. Sheet music is a reference point. It is a pitch indicator. It is a time indicator, and though it may work when you have years or weeks or days with regular practice and a small to medium number of musicians to go over it in the fashion you describe.... It is a big time waste. as it isn't going to happen very fast.... In some cases like that of the modern student in school this can work out ok.... But on a larger scale with very complex music among professionals.... It is an illogical aproach. I can not help but imagining that time is money even in ancient egypt. As such the inability to have a reference point and directions to keep everyone in a large group functioning in a way that does not step on eachother's toes and cause a frightening sound..... And enables them to know what pitches everyone else will be doing, requires a silent communication so that they can build their chords without ruining the flow or causing interuption. As i also mentioned if time is money then 15 musicians with no reference point complex pieces of music involving all of them is ofcourse doable.... if you have a year to work on each and every piece for 4 hours a day.... Thing is, that is not condusive to a good system if one wishes to ultimately support oneself financially from their music. Trust me, i know.... I have watched people struggle that way... Ultimately you just gotta force em to use and become adept at solfege.If a pro can't just immediately perform on commnd with a group, they are at a disadvantage. I can't imagine that would be different. If they are working with other musicians, sometimes you dont get a chance to talk to them before you play.... A professional context is a very different thing than a school performance which includes regular practice sessions. Often there is only 1 or in many cases none, due to the fact everyone is working and needs to support themselves financially and often they have alot of other musical jobs going on at the same time. I have doubts it was particularly different in egyptian society if musicians truly wished to survive by using their music to make money so to speak.

However, farmers, lay people..... non 'professional' musicians.... Musicians more related to today's garage bands i suppose, very likely were much less efficient with their time when it comes to music. As they were illiterate, it would seem wise to agree with your statement about written music when it comes to them.

Another thing that seeems not impossible is that written music of some sort developed over time. It sure as you know what was not written down in western society before people began producing it. I have doubts that in the very early days, written music existed.... Though by the time large groups of professionals began to play..... It would have been an inefficient use of time to not have atleast some directions. It could be too that their written music directions were not as directive as ours if we were to accept that they had them.... It may be simply notes on when to start playing and when to stopplaying and the rest based on one's ear. But i doubt it was that lose as they seem to be picky enough about tone to provide tuning.

My harp, is exceptionally old. It comes from Ireland, it is a family heirloom. The women have been the players according to my mother and her father and apparently according to his mother and his mother's mother at the very least for..... goddess.... a damn long time. Anyway, my harp is interesting because it has no sharps or flats. You have to retune the strings. Half steps were not invented till later.... Again if playing music an indication of a quick retuning of a string for a sharp or flat would need to be indicated. That is if they used them.

There seems to be debate about what has been found in relation to ancient egyptian music... Some pages i read claim there was none others say there may be some we don't know, and atleast one mentioned possible music notation having been found on something.... It would seem the archeo jury is still out. As for the jury of musical time management for the most effective way in which to earn your bread by playing music...That has been in atleast since the ancient greeks.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think that the ancient Egyptians played music in large groups, though. Any time I've seen a a depiction of a group of musicians from ancient Egypt, they're only in groups of about six or seven. Confused I think these groups will have practised their tunes over many times together, so they wouldn't need to be able to read music. I'm not sure that professional musicians were necesserily literate, either, as musicians were often females and/or blind, so I doubt literacy was an issue.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:43 pm    Post subject: hmmm interesting Reply with quote

Even so... 6 or 16..... things get messy and rehearsals take time.... and people have weird reactions when put infront of ppl and told to perform. No matter how much one practices the instant brain lag that happens when you stop and realize oh sh*t... This has to go good or else..... You are balnk and no music and uhhoh.... The other thing about sheet music is that, one can practice alone. It enables others to go about their normal lives making the income they require, whle allowing them to still be 'connected to group mind' or able to practice as if others were there in their free moments. It is so much easier and faster to learn from a piece of paper than to spend time teaching 6 people to listen to themselve to the others what note comes where and when and how it is to be played and who is playing when and who is pausing when..... We are not talking about a single bar..... We are talking about a *song* which implies multiple bars and sometimes long musical expressions. Either way it would stand to reason that their music possibly and likely had interesting repetition.... A similar sort of repetition can be found in songs from Italy in the days of the troubadors, examples might be Tu Lo Sai, and Caro Mio Ben, to say the least. And i would guess in the beginning more repetition was typical. Though i would have to suggest the boredom that would have caused over time would have forced them to grow and to become less repetitive as time went on in which case, likely day 1 they had no notation. But by year 20-50..... Music would have been outlawed and musicians would have been assasinated by insane mobs of people bored to the point of homicidal.

Another interesting thing i have found, is that there is a strong connection between ancient middle eastern music and that of Egypt.

httphttp://www.oeaw.ac.at/kal/mane/://www.oeaw.ac.at/kal/mane/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_notation

http://www.amaranthpublishing.com/hurrian.htm

http://phoenicia.org/music.html

Another small point indicating notation... Is music has been found passed from one culture to another. The exactness involved in it's transfer and use by the next society to receive it.... Is too close apparently to the original to have been passed word of mouth. Ancient Ireland is an example of this as is England and Canada and even the usa especially all together. An example common is.... the folk song i believe collected by Child. *Barbry Allen'. If i am not mistaken it originated in Ireland, it was passed by the folk singers to England and it became, Barbra Ellen, ofcourse, some critical changes took place in that change. The irish have some very odd time signatures such as for example i believe 4:6 time.... Which is just weird.... and difficult to sing or work in if one is not accustomed to it. In our modern society we tend to stay within 4:4 (4 beats to a measure) or 2:4 (2 beats to measure) Or a good old fashioned 3 beats to a measure walts (3:4) And sometimes 'cut time' is applied to 4:4 time signature so instead it is ultimately performed as more or less 2:4 (One maddening thing about music of the western modern variety, often there are multiple ways to say the same thing.) 6:4 outside like ireland to my knowledge is.... quite unusual. I personally think it is something accent based.... Anyway, Barbry Allen became Barbra Ellen and the time signature swiched to 4:4 in England. From there it went to the USA. Where it has been plucked to bits and used as a basis for alot of different music and to a degree this happened in England too. One of the most obscure pieces of music that is heavily based on this piece was written in i believe the civil war. The words were changed, and some minor musical changes were implemented but they were small changes. Anyway, this soldier was dieing and calling for someone to come and take his messages to his loved ones. It is one of the most heart renching pieces i have ever performed. ofcourse things change musically with time. When i got it, i altered it more. I took it out of time altogether. As the point of this new version of the song was just that. A young man ripped out of life out of time with what his life should have been.... dieing of a gunshot wound in the middle of a battle field yeh he died in perfect 4:4.... how bullox.... My point is this, that which passes by word of mouth is subjective. That which has a reference point on paper in the hands of one who knows how to read it and follow properly the directions, can be reproduced more exactly than that passed on like a phrase in some strange multi cultural child's game of what amounts to telephone.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:31 pm    Post subject: Now i am starting to get hissy.... Reply with quote

Nubian music.... Where can i find information on it? Anyone know?
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my opinion, you may be looking at this from too much of a modern point of view (though, I'm no expert on ancient Egyptian music...to be honest, I don't think anyone one is, as not much is really known about the melodies they played). It's highly likely that ancient Egyptian music wasn't nearly as complex as modern music, so half a dozen people playing a tune together wouldn't be too much hard work. I recall reading something a while back that said that music generally accompanied hymns and chants, or was played in the background at parties. Personally, I don't think that anything resembling sheet music will ever be discovered (obviously, I'd love to find out that I'm wrong, as it would be amazing to hear some genuine ancient Egyptian music being played), as every time you see musicians depicted on tomb walls and such, these people are never - that I know, anyway - shown with anything that be considered any sort of instructions for the music they're playing.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 9:42 pm    Post subject: No, you bring up some good points Reply with quote

And i know music as we know it in the western world what the rules are how it works bla bla bla.... But music is actually kinda subjective. The concept of what sounds good to some verses others and stuff.... So it can sound very unique and sometimes more weird than good.

Also you are right. I am speaking as a modern musician and applying modern values and standards. And i should be very careful about that. My grasp of ancient egyptian history and culture is rather errr.,... i would say poor but i think that it would be unfair to me due to the very early phase of my studies on the subject. So perhaps 'infancy' is a better term. My knowledge of ancient Egypt and its Ancient culture is still in it's infancy.

However, that being said, i must point out, that they did have various varieties of 'occupations.' Much as we do today. It is obvious most of these provided atleaswt in part for their subsistance. Otherwise, they would live in hovels and refuse to work while all surviving though barely in a state of squallor, similar to that of Russian communism except without the communism part. They exchanged their abilities, with eachother and thus, everyone had to earn what came to them it would seem to me. So, in that respoect, though no monetary exchange involved, it seems likely to me that the more one can provide and supply to the largest number of customers, logically speaking the better one's intake will be.

I know they did not own their land and payed high taxes , but they also clearly got a certain amount for themselves as well. Seems they traded with eachother. for services as well as for objects they wanted for a whole wealth of reasons. Which, makes them in this way alot like us. But it is true that care is important not to over shadow their culture with our modern way of life and values and perhaps i have made a mistake? As always, i am just a student..... Still learning.... Just putting my 2 cents in in an effort to learn and to better understand.

I have been so involved in this subject because it is one of the few things i can make a contribution. As my understanding of music is rather good. Not that i am the only one who has such an understanding, hardly. But, everyone here offers so much to so many subjects, i was just trying to offer all of you what little i have to offer. And i am very opinionated! hehehehe

You make another good point though that i find really actually very interesting, no images seem to exhist of musicians with anything akin to sheet music seem to appear. In some cultures, some things are considered sacred or powerful. For example, ones real name. And anyone who knows it has power over you. It could perhaps be that music was viewed as a magical act an act of power. An example would be scandinavia and the runes. The shamans used to 'sing' them into 'power' so to speak. I am not saying either one of these things is true of Egypt, i am just saying that sometimes that which one does not find is because of it's importance and the view of the people of that time period pof the culture, and they may have a different vision or atribute things very different to it that we would never even think of. So taking loack of image as hard evidence for non existence in my opinion, (which is uneducated) is to.... hmmm.... *possibly* make a mistake as based on our modern value system as it could be a mistake for me to do the same when it comes to the professional aspect.,

I couldnt agree more. Knowing what the music sounded like would kick more bum than i can imagine. As for what we will find and what we won't.... You could be quite right.... But we have also found many things we thought impossible already. So maybe best to keep an open mind with no doubt and no expectation and just keep hoping and see what time offers.
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PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject: Nubian Music Reply with quote

I am curious if it is more african in nature than middle eastern... But i am having a hard time finding anything about it. I think that it would be really interesting to know, as based on the instruments in Egypt it appears atleast they had a leaning towards the middle east when it came to music (And alot of other things.) I aam starting to wonder if, it really should qualify and be discussed as an early african civilization... As opposed to an early middle eastern civilization located on the wrong continent... Maybe i have just been reading too much of Redford`s Egypt, Canaan, and Israel In Ancient Times... But it also seems though Nubia tries to be as egyptian or more egyptian than ancient Egypt somehow, it seems to remain more connected to the early african societies.... Most of this is meant as questions not statements of facts. My new computer does ╔ when i try to type a questionmark at the moment. I don`t know how to fix it. But if anyone knows where i can find Nubian music information.... Please let me know! Thank you.
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