Classic Axes!!! ... and other rockin' relics

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Classic Axes!!! ... and other rockin' relics

Post#1 » Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:11 pm

OK, you may have noticed that I'm on a bit of an archaeological bender lately. Well, I figured I'd branch out since this section needed to be broken in. Am I, though? Or, is this just blurring the lines a little.

Either way, thought it might be interesting.

Actually, this post is sort of sparked from a conversation I had with a VERY well known entertainer somewhat recently He just released (or is about to release) a children's book. The cringe effect set in when he explained the premise was to show the "evolution" of musical instruments starting with our 'not so smart cousins' of yester-millenia blowing through rams horns and beating sticks against logs.



Smith College Museum of Ancient Inventions

... the PokerBass condensed list: musicial instruments

Sumerian Bull Lyre, Iraq, 3200 BC

by Stacey Rolland, '00

Image ... hsc02b.htm

The lyre was invented by the Sumerians of ancient Iraq around 3200 BCE. Its design was developed from the harp by replacing the single bow shape with two upright arms joined by a crossbar, and the strings, instead of joining the sound box directly, were made to run over a bridge attached to the box.

The bull lyre is one of three excavated from the royal cemetery of Ur. Each lyre had a different animal head protruding from the front of the sound box to denote its pitch: the bull lyre was bass, the heifer lyre was tenor and the stag lyre was alto. All three were made of wood. The bull lyre stood roughly 1.2 meters high. The sound box was defined by a broad border of mosaic in shell, lapis lazuli and red paste, and this border continued onto the rectangular upright arms. The strings were tied to the crossbar and strung down over the bridge to connect at the base of the sound box. Researchers believe the notes constituted the same scale as Queen Shub-Ad's harp and were achieved by the tension of the strings rather than the length.

Sumerian Harp, Iraq, 2500 BC

[ PB note ... so much for my example to refute evolution when the description of this one uses that very word ... sheesh ]

by Beverly Jones, '97

Image ... hsc04b.htm

This is a recreation of Queen Shub-Ad's harp, an artifact unearthed early this century from the Sumerian Royal Cemetery at Ur. It is the oldest known example of the true triangular harp, which evolved directly from the hunting bow.

Aztec Calendar Wheels, Central America, 1000 BC/size]

[PB note ... Yeah, I know it's not an instrument, but, was probably used by Stone Age rockers to keep track of their gigs!!! ]

by Kate McCloskey, '97

Image ... hsc08b.htm

From 1000 BCE, most of Central America used similar types of calendars based on material objects and celestial constellations. The two most common calendars were the 260-day festival calendar and the 365-day solar calendar. The correlation between the two occurs every 52 years when both begin their new years. This is called the "Calendar Round" and the number became important in Central American cultures.

The 260-day calendar, called a tzolkin, consists of two wheels, a larger one of twenty days and a smaller one with the numbers one through thirteen. The number twenty was based on the digits of a "whole man" (i.e., fingers and toes) and the thirteen numbers represented their philosophy of thirteen directions in space. The early Central Americans believed that this ritualistic calendarrepresented an archetypal state of human and cosmic harmony.

Each rotation through the thirteen numbers represents one "week" in this system. The first, sixth, eleventh, and sixteenth weeks were special and very important; they created the four divisions of their year. Each of the twenty days was associated with tangible objects or animals and a deity. This created a sort of permanent fortune-telling machine and guided their destinies.

A list of the objects and deities associated with each day is available at ... hsc08d.htm

Chelys-Lyra, Greece, 400 BC/size]

[ PB note ... to me this one seems less advanced than the previous two that were made thousands of years earlier ... evolution??? ]

by Jolly Killmer, '97

front view

rear view ... hsc12b.htm

Used in classical Athens, the Chelys-Lyra is a lyre consisting of a tortoise-shell sound compartment with skin stretched over the opening. Two bars with a crossbar attached extend from the shell and hold the strings. Compared to other Greek instruments of the time, the Chelys-Lyra was small and light, a versatile instrument which could be played sitting, standing or walking. It was played by both men and women, although it is most often depicted in art being played by a man.

Frame Harp, Greece, 400 AD

by Meredith Walsh, '00

Image ... hsc21b.htm

The frame harp of the fourth and fifth centuries had an arched sound box and a post for support on the open ends and was played resting on the left knee while the player was seated. It was designed having between nine and eleven strings and so that the left hand stroked the farther, longer strings while the right plucked the closer, shorter ones. Decoration varied widely: a harp might be covered with ornate drawings of animals or it might be plain and almost bare. Since the harps were of wood, all that remains of them are drawings on ancient Greek vases. From these we can tell that the kollopes, or tuning pegs, were usually located either on the base of the harp, sometimes with an extra base to prevent interference with the lap while playing, or on the neck.

Thunder-Making Machine, Egypt,Greece, 100 AD

[ PB note ... obviously the art-rock predecessor to the gong ]

by Amanda Fox, '00

Image ... hsc19b.htm

Used in Greek theater to announce the entrances and exits of the gods, the original thunder-making machine was invented by Heron of Alexandria in the first century CE. Pulling the lever opens a trap door which allows numerous brass balls to cascade down a series of shelves and onto a tin sheet. Originally made on a larger scale than the one shown here, Heron's thunder-making machine resonated with deep bass tones when the balls were released.

Bodhran Drum, Ireland, 1500 AD

by Meagan Sarah Stefanow '98

Image ... drum2.html

There is not a great deal of information about the bodhran and its history, probably because the drum hasn't really changed much over time. It resembles a large tambourine without the jingling parts and has a rather deep and somber sound. The word bodhran in Irish for deaf. It is a folk instrument that was originally beaten with one hand, but eventually a cipin, a small beater, was used to play the bodhran.

Poker Bass says:

See the full list of items in the museum at the link below. Other related items include:

Candles ... the early Bic lighter
Decoder ... needed even today to figure out lengthy record contracts
Abacus ... determine how much your scumbag agent's percentage is
Baghdad Battery ... for all those effects pedals ... sclist.htm

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