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An ancient mouth harp found in the Altai Republic of Russia.

This Musical Instrument Still Works 1,700 Years After a Hun Nomad Crafted it!

The nomadic musician looked fondly upon the latest of the completed instruments – a mouth harp carefully crafted by splintering the rib of a cow, or was it a horse? No matter, the sound it made when...
Elf Fantasy Fair 2010 hurdy gurdy.

The Hurdy Gurdy Was Essential Medieval Entertainment Enjoyed by Merrymakers Across Europe

The hurdy gurdy is a musical instrument, or more precisely, a string instrument, that traces its origin to the Middle Ages of Europe. The hurdy gurdy was initially used to play sacred music, before...
Museum diorama depicting scholars from the Joseon Dynasty (Public Domain), and script from the Hunmin Jeongeum Eonhae

What Happens if Scholars Rule a Kingdom? How Korea’s Kingdom of Joseon Lived Up to its Legendary Namesake

By the 14th century, the foundations of Korea’s Goryeo Dynasty (918 -1392 CE) started to collapse from years of war and de facto occupation from the Mongol Empire. The royal court in Goryeo was at...
Gerard van Honthorst's 1623 painting ‘The Concert.’

Band Posters of the Renaissance: How Medieval Music Fans Showed off Their Taste

Tim Shephard / The Conversation Did you once put a poster of your favorite music artist on your bedroom wall? Are there a few faded gig T-shirts in your bottom drawer? Have you ever bought an LP or...
The Mysterious Lithophones of Vietnam: Descendants of the First Musical Instruments?

The Mysterious Lithophones of Vietnam: Descendants of the First Musical Instruments?

The word ‘lithophone’ is derived from two Greek words, ‘lithos’ and ‘phone’. The first can be translated as ‘stone’, whilst the second means ‘sound’. Therefore, a lithophone may be said to be a ‘...
Saraswati: Hindu Goddess of Aesthetics and Protector of the Universe

Saraswati: Hindu Goddess of Aesthetics and Protector of the Universe

A deity with as many attributes as arms, Saraswati (or Sarasvati) is the Hindu goddess of aesthetics. These include music, the arts, wisdom and learning. She can be compared, in many ways, to the...
1st century BC marble statue of Cybele from Formia, Lazio

Mothers, Madness and Music: A Study of the Parallels of Cybele and Dionysus

Though she was one of the most renowned goddesses in her day, the motherly, wise Cybele has long been over-shadowed in the mythology of ancient Greece by the later pre-Olympian goddesses, Rhea, Gaia...
Sweet Ancient Melodies of the Ney: One of the Oldest Musical Instruments Still in Use

Sweet Ancient Melodies of the Ney: One of the Oldest Musical Instruments Still in Use

For proof that the ney (also spelled nay) is one of the oldest musical instruments still in use, you need look no further than the great Sumerian city of Ur. Archeologists have found the delicate...
Looking to Elders to Discover the Amazing Burial Mounds and Forgotten Woodland Traditions of Canada

Looking to Elders to Discover the Amazing Burial Mounds and Forgotten Woodland Traditions of Canada

While the burial mounds and earthworks of the Adena and Hopewell Cultures are usually associated with the Ohio River Valley, there are lesser-known—but equally as fantastic—manifestations of these...
The Medieval Origins of The Carol: How Christmas Songs Have Survived Through the Centuries

The Medieval Origins of The Carol: How Christmas Songs Have Survived Through the Centuries

Singing and Christmas seem to go naturally together, like plum pudding and custard. Even those who would not normally attend a choir concert or church service throughout the year might happily...
Bask in the Beauty and Melody of the Ancient Mesopotamian Lyres of Ur

Bask in the Beauty and Melody of the Ancient Mesopotamian Lyres of Ur

It is unknown which culture was the first to create music, but a set of beautiful Sumerian instruments from the city of Ur provide us with some insight into the world of ancient music. They are known...
A Feast for the Eyes and Ears: The World’s Most Beautiful and Majestic Library

A Feast for the Eyes and Ears: The World’s Most Beautiful and Majestic Library

The Clementinum is a complex of historical buildings founded by Jesuits in Prague, Czech Republic, and is famous for its stunning Baroque-style library which houses more than 20,000 historically rare...

Song of Seikilos: Oldest Known Musical Composition Lay Hidden on a Flower Stand in Turkish Garden

The Song of Seikilos is the oldest complete surviving music composition in the world engraved in a marble stele that served as a flower stand. The beautiful composition, also known as the ‘Seikilos...
Guido of Arezzo.

Musical Monk: Guido of Arezzo and His Impact on the History of Music

Guido of Arezzo was a monk who lived during the Middle Ages, and may be considered as one of the most influential figures in the history of modern music. During the Middle Ages, the monastery was one...
Carnyx from the recently discovered Tintignac group.

The Carnyx: Ancient Trumpet Leading Celtic Warriors to Battle

The carnyx is an ancient musical instrument that best-known to have been used by the Celts during the Iron Age. Between 300 BC and 200 AD, the carnyx was used in many parts of Europe. In the ancient...
Ancient Irish Musical History Found in Modern India

Ancient Irish Musical History Found in Modern India

An archaeologist studying musical horns from iron-age Ireland has found musical traditions, thought to be long dead, are alive and well in south India. The realization that modern Indian horns are...

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