Music of the Distant Past

One thing that I had in mind in starting this blog was for it to be a place where I could note those particularly rare and unexpected musical finds. The world of music is really so much more diverse and interesting than most realize as they travel everyday through their well-trodden top 40 radio stations.

To be fair, the world is changing thanks to things like satellite radio, iPods and “genre-less” radio stations.

But, still, there’s a lot out there that I’m convinced I’m nearly the only person to have found it some days.

A prime example of something like this is Music of the Ancient Sumerians, Egyptians and Greeks by Ensemble De Organographia. This wonderful CD is an attempt to reconstruct music from the Ancient Near East by Ensemble De Organographia an Early Music group based in Oregon (how interesting and wonderful that there’s so much good music work in my neck of the woods) that’s also part of the Early Music Guild of Oregon. This CD features a recording of Sumerian, Hurrian, Egyptian, and Greek music. Of particular note is track 20 Musical Instructions for “Lipit-Ishtar, King of Justice” (c. 1950 BC), the oldest piece of notated music in the world.

Reconstructions are always dicey but this is really a first rate job. And the music doesn’t require the listener to stretch his or her ear too much: it’s not nearly as foreign as you’d expect after nearly four thousand years.