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From the YouTube Music Video Archives, Special ZORRO Edition: Hurrian Hymn n°6, performed by Michael Levy

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

While somewhat concerned that I’m putting that Kierkegaard quotation to the test, I’m also especially anxious to please ZORRO (though for whom perhaps only displeasure is pleasing). To that end, I’ve dug up one of the most ancient pieces of music recovered so far—a Hurrian Hymn from 1400 B.C. As Michael Levy writes,

This unique video, features my first of 2 arrangements for solo lyre, of the 3400 year old “Hurrian Hymn no.6”, which was discovered in Ugarit in Syria in the early 1950s, and was preserved for 3400 years on a clay tablet, written in the Cuniform text of the ancient Hurrian language – The Hurrian Hymn (catalogued as Text H6) was discovered in Ugarit, Syria, in the early 1950s, and was preserved for 3400 years on a clay tablet, written in the Cuniform text of the ancient Hurrian language – except from a few earlier Sumarian fragmentary instructional musical texts from c.1950 BCE (Musical Instructions for Lipit-Ishtar, King of Justice) the Hurrian Hymn it is the oldest written song yet known, in History!

Although about 29 musical texts were discovered at Ugarit, only this text, (text H6), was in a sufficient state of preservation to allow for modern academic musical reconstruction.

In short, the Cuneiform text clearly indicated specific names for lyre strings, and their respective musical intervals — a sort of “Guitar tablature”, for lyre!

Although discovered in modern day Syria, the Hurrians were not Syrian — they came from modern day Anatolia. The Hurrian Hymn actually dates to the very end of the Hurrian civilisation (c.1400BCE) . The Hurrian civilization dates back to at least 3000 BCE. It is an incredible thought, that just maybe, the musical texts found at Ugarit, preserved precious sacred Hurrian music which may have already been thousands of years old, prior to their inscription for posterity, on the clay tablets found at Ugarit!

My arrangement here, is based on the that the original transcription of the melody, as interpreted by Prof. Richard Dumbrill. Here is a link to his book, “The Archeomusicology of the Near East”: http://bit.ly/d3aovp

It is played here, on a replica of the ancient Kinnor Lyre from neighbouring Israel; an instrument almost tonally identical to the wooden asymmetric-shaped lyres played throughout the Middle East at this amazingly distant time…when the Pharaoh’s still ruled ancient Egypt.

A photograph of the actual clay tablet on which the Hurrian Hymn was inscribed, can be seen here:

http://www.phoenicia.org/music.html

The melody is one of several academic interpretations, derived from the ambiguous Cuneiform text of the Hurrian language in which it was written. Although many of the meanings of the Hurrian language are now lost in the mists of time, it can be established that the fragmentary Hurrian Hymn which has been found on these precious clay tablets are dedicated to Nikkal; the wife of the moon god.

There are several such interpretations of this melody, but to me, the fabulous interpretation just somehow sounds the most authentic.

Comments

  1. Is my paranoia getting completely out of hand, or are you mongoloids really talking about me?

    It appears that your web-log has lately become a vector by which I am to be plagued with pagan You-Tube music videos. This latest frenzied and (literally) lunatic outbreak has assaulted my ears, brutalized my nerves, and treated my pyloric valve like a door in a tenement occupied by a particularly quarrelsome coterie of lowlifes — which is to say, slammed forcefully and repeatedly. I imagine that the resulting colorectal backwash has corroded my stomach beyond repair. You should probably begin making arrangements to fund my gastrectomy.

    Also, the feral cacophony your Hurrian Hymnodist tortured out of his lyre has poisoned my mind against the whole family of stringed instruments. I, a musical prodigy at the dawn of a brilliant career, whose full artistic flowering and peak earnings still lay in the future, now suffer from a crippling aversion to my once-beloved lute. I may never play again.

    If you are lucky, my corps of attorneys might determine that you have caused me to sustain damages in an amount of less than eight figures. The loss to the culture at large is, of course, incalculable. Accordingly, my legal luminaries have begun researching whether, aside from your liability to me, you might be guilty of a crime against humanity. I imagine the punishments must be quite draconian.

    Nevertheless, I am willing, at the moment, to shower my mercy indiscriminately upon the just and the unjust (to which latter category, you assuredly belong) — willing, for now, to turn the other cheek, let bygones be bygones, settle the case, and decline to press charges. I seek no advantage for myself, but to let you go unpunished would be false charity. Education, not retribution, is my aim. Your penalty must be severe enough to deter recidivism, yet lenient enough to reduce you to a state of less-than-utter penury. A lump sum of five dollars should be acceptable. Alternately, three monthly installments of two dollars each ought to suffice.

    Cash only, please.

    ZORRO

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