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:
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.