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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Chicken Charlie Music of the Bible Revealed (?) (26) RE: Music of the Bible Revealed (?) 26 Mar 08


Dear Uncle Jacque--

I'm with Wesley S. on this one, having lived through a couple "nine day wonders" before. Skepticism is healthy.

An article entitled "World's Oldest Musical Notation Deciphered on Cuneiform Tablet" appeared on pp. 14-25 of the Biblical Archaeology Review in vol. vi, #5, which was Sep/Oct 1980. The article itself is not signed but the text states that it was "reviewed" by Prof. Anne Kilmer.

On p. 25, the writer says that, "Professors Kilmer, Crocker and Brown cooperated in producing a sound recording, called "Sounds from Silence" (Bit Enki Publications, Berkeley), in which Prof. Crocker sings the Hurrian cult song and accompanies himself on the replica of the Silver Lyre. On the same recording you can also hear Prof. Kilmer sing the song, accompanied by another replica lyre that is closer in time and place to the song from Ugarit. Prof. Brown based the reconstruction of this second lyre on a second millennium drawing on a piece of ivory from ancient Megiddo. The 'Megiddo Lyre' is smaller than the bovine lyres, no longer has a bovine-shape sound box, and its sound is in a higher register ... better suited to a woman's voice."

I have no idea whether this recording is still available, or what medium it was made in in 1980, but I will try to find out, and I suppose others on this thread will too.

This song, billed as "A Hurrian Cult Song from Ancient Ugarit," is dated by Kilmer to 1400 BC. Therefore this is not exactly "on point" with regard to how the Hebrews scored their Psalms 500 years later.

The next paragraph, however, is probably worth considering in both of these cases. The writer states, "Although the performance recorded in "Sounds from Silence" is admittedly experimental, the song is interpreted as closely to the text as possible (see music on p. 17). Some listeners feel that the melody and style are too Western' others find it reminiscent of simple early church humns. Some critics believe that the ancient music must have sounded more like today's Near Eastern music than the interpretation presented. Although we have recovered the scales and the basic notes of this Hurrian song, we cannot know what it really sounded like.... All we have is a voiceless artifact of musical notation from the distant past."

I learned about this article originally from a hammer dulcimer player who was all agog over the notion that the hammer dulcimer was, in his untutored opinion, a likely instrument for the song to have been played on--and there was another attempt to work an ancient Assyrian representation of some sort of percussion instrument into a hammer dulcimer. Years later, I met hammer dulcimer player #2, who was much deeper into the academic side of things. I mentioned the Assyrian origin theory of the H.D. and he did a great ROFLOL number. Consensus, I take it, is that there were no hammer dulcimers before the Middle Ages. I think I have references on that too, but that's TWO jumps removed from the original topic.

Those cryptic marks in the Psalms texts have their counterpoint in cryptic marks in the Quran. Maybe Ms. Ventura has figured them out after 3000 years. Maybe not.

I don't know how accessible back copies of the Biblical Archaeology Review are going to prove to be or whether Bit Enki Pubs. is still around. For all I know, they were recording on Edison cylinders in 1980 (Mudcat joke--my Edison machine still works! :) ). If anybody wants full text and cannot find it, I could be persuaded to transcribe the whole thing or snail-mail you a Xerox copy.

Joe will no doubt be along any minute to explain to me how I can up-load the page with the music on it, staves and all.

CC

PS. Was this the least damn bit helpful?? It just occurred to me after all this typing that there are probably multiple threads on all of this stuff already. Oh, well.


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