viernes, 2 de octubre de 2009

Egyptian music

Well, it's time to start with the real topic. I'm going to talk specially about music in the ancient Egypt.

Music was used in some activities, but it's main development was into the temples, where it was used during the rites celebrated for some gods. It was also used as a therapeutic solution as it has been found in some papyrus. In fact, the hieroglyphic picture of the music was the same as happiness and well-being. Like in other countries, it was considered as a communication way with the deaths, and musicians used to reach such an important status that some of them are buried in royal necropolis.
Ancient musicians didn't develop a system to play the music they created, 'cause they used to transmit from master to apprentice, so we don't know how that music really was. Anyway, there are some known aspects which have been known by texts. Besides, instruments shown on museums, wall-pictures of musicians and dancers and singer's oral tradition has given us some extra information.
We can appreciate an evolution of the music by studying the instruments, the pictures and the offerings which have been found in temples. At first they just have percussion instruments (my favorite ones!) so it's obvious that music was rhythmic. By the pictures that have preserved we can know that music was used to invoke gods for the good harvest, or to frighten off the plagues.
In the fourth millennium vertical recorder and harp appeared, being this last one something like Egyptian national instrument.
Ancient Empire
Music was religious, priests' songs during the rites. By the studies of the instruments of which have done lots of representations, it's been concluded that they used to play using pentathonic or heptathonic (the one we use) scales. Instruments:
-Wind instruments:
Straight flute, with vertical reed with four or six holes without mouthpiece and nearly a meter long. Still nowadays it's called nay and uffata in official and pupular musics in Egypt.
Double Chirimy which had two parallel of reed with the same measure, that used to sound at the same time. Nowadays this instrument is called zummarah. It may was used to play the same melody in a duplicate way, or maybe it consisted on some kind of stereophony or a practice of a snare.
Trumpet, of silver or copper which was used in the military parades and in the cult of the death. They were made of metal, similar to Palestine trumpets.

-String Instruments:
Harp of six or eight strings very decorated. It's been found one in the necropolis of Giza from year 2000 b.C. It was played resting it on the floor and its one-pieced tailpiece reminds to the most ancient musical arc. This goes to an wide resounder, shovel-shaped, which used to have pictures o gods' eyes, employed to counteract the tragedies. Its strings where fixed over an tuning bar, which hypothetically would have served to change the tuning of all the strings, like is done nowadays with modern harps' pedals. In iconography, harp appears as an helping instrument to singers, flutes... and sometimes creating a part of an orchestra (it's been found a representation of an orchestra of seven harpists).
Three strings guitar, with a neck which was two times the body.

"Sistroes", percussion instruments with an U shaped wooden frame, a handle and crossed bars which held up some metal made sheets, which varied by the years went on (picture).

- Jufu Anj, singer and flute player of the court.

Next week I´ll go on with the topic, explaining the rest of the evolution. I hope you've liked this week's post. I'm sorry for giving the URL's information in spanish, but there's an option to change the languaje.

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