Prehistoric music (previously primitive music) is a term in the history of music for all music produced in preliterate cultures (prehistory), beginning somewhere in very late geological history. Prehistoric music is followed by ancient music in different parts of the world, but still exists in isolated areas. However, it is more common to refer to the "prehistoric" music which still survives as folk, indigenous or traditional music. Prehistoric music is studied alongside other periods within music archaeology.
Findings from Paleolithic archaeology sites suggest that prehistoric people used carving and piercing tools to create instruments. Archeologists have found Paleolithic flutes carved from bones in which lateral holes have been pierced. The Divje Babe flute, carved from a cave bear femur, is thought to be at least 40,000 years old. Instruments such as the seven-holed flute and various types of stringed instruments, such as the Ravanahatha, have been recovered from the Indus Valley Civilization archaeological sites. BCE.India has one of the oldest musical traditions in the world—references to Indian classical music (marga) are found in the Vedas, ancient scriptures of the Hindu tradition. The earliest and largest collection of prehistoric musical instruments was found in China and dates back to between 7000 and 6600
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The use of the term 'music' is problematic within prehistory. It may be that, as in the traditional music of much of sub-Saharan Africa, the concept of 'music', as we understand it, was somewhat different. Many languages traditionally have terms for music that include dance, religion or cult. The context in which prehistoric music took place has also become a subject of much study, as the sound made by music in prehistory would have been somewhat different depending on the acoustics present. Some cultures have certain instances of their music intending to imitate natural sounds. In some instances, this feature is related to shamanistic beliefs or practice.It may also serve entertainment (game) or practical functions (for example, luring animals in hunt).
It is likely that the first musical instrument was the human voice itself, which can make a vast array of sounds, from singing, humming and whistling through to clicking, coughing and yawning. (See Darwin’s Origin of Species on music and speech.) The oldest known Neanderthal hyoid bone with the modern human form has been dated to be 60,000 years old, [ citation needed ] but the true chronology may date back much further.predating the oldest known Paleolithic bone flute by some 20,000 years,
Music can be theoretically traced to prior to the Paleolithic age. The anthropological and archaeological designation suggests that music first arose (among humans) when stone tools first began to be used by hominids. The noises produced by work such as pounding seed and roots into meal are a likely source of rhythm created by early humans. The first rhythm instruments or percussion instruments most likely involved the clapping of hands, stones hit together, or other things that are useful to create rhythm. Examples of paleolithic objects which are considered unambiguously musical are bone flutes or pipes; paleolithic finds which are currently open to interpretation include pierced phalanges (usually interpreted as "phalangeal whistles"), bullroarers, and rasps. These musical instruments date back as far as the paleolithic, although there is some ambiguityover archaeological finds which can be variously interpreted as either musical or non-musical instruments/tools.
Another possible origin of music is motherese, the vocal-gestural communication between mothers and infants. This form of communication involves melodic, rhythmic and movement patterns as well as the communication of intention and meaning, and in this sense is similar to music.
Miller suggests musical displays play a role in "demonstrating fitness to mate". Based on the ideas of honest signal and the handicap principle, Miller suggested that music and dancing, as energetically costly activities, were to demonstrate the physical and psychological fitness of the singing and dancing individual to the prospective mates.Communal singing by both sexes occurs among cooperatively breeding songbirds of Australia and Africa such as magpies, and white-browed sparrow-weaver.
The field of archaeoacoustics uses acoustic techniques to explore prehistoric sounds, soundscapes and instruments, and has included the study of ringing rocks and lithophones, of the acoustics of ritual sites such as chamber tombs and stone circles, and the exploration of prehistoric instruments using acoustic testing. Such work has included acoustic field tests to capture and analyse the impulse response of archaeological sites; acoustic tests of lithophones or 'rock gongs'; and reconstructions of soundscapes as experimental archaeology.
An academic research network, the Acoustics and Music of British Prehistory Research Network, has explored this field.
In prehistoric Egypt, music and chanting were commonly used in magic and rituals. The ancient Egyptians credited the goddess Bat with the invention of music. The cult of Bat was eventually syncretised into that of Hathor because both were depicted as cows. Hathor's music was believed to have been used by Osiris as part of his effort to civilise the world. The lion-goddess Bastet was also considered a goddess of music. Rhythms during this time were unvaried and music served to create rhythm. Small shells were used as whistles. pp26–30). During the predynastic period of Egyptian history, funerary chants continued to play an important role in Egyptian religion and were accompanied by clappers or a flute. Despite the lack of physical evidence in some cases, Egyptologists theorise that the development of certain instruments known of the Old Kingdom period, such as the end-blown flute, took place during this time. (pp33–34)(
In 1986, several gudi (literally "bone flutes") were found in Jiahu in Henan Province, China. They date to about 7000 BCE. They have between 6 and 9 holes each and were made from the hollow bones of a bird, the red-crowned crane. At the time of the discovery, one was found to be still playable. The bone flute plays both the five- or seven-note scale of Xia Zhi and six-note scale of Qing Shang of the ancient Chinese musical system.[ citation needed ]
India has one of the oldest musical traditions in the world—references to Indian classical music (marga) are found in the Vedas, ancient scriptures of the Hindu tradition.Instruments such as the seven-holed flute and various types of stringed instruments, such as the Ravanahatha, have been recovered from the Indus Valley Civilization archaeological sites.
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music includes the music of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. Music has formed an integral part of the social, cultural and ceremonial observances of these people, down through the millennia of their individual and collective histories to the present day, and has existed for 40,000 years.The traditional forms include many aspects of performance and musical instrumentation which are unique to particular regions or Indigenous Australian groups; there are equally elements of musical tradition which are common or widespread through much of the Australian continent, and even beyond. The culture of the Torres Strait Islanders is related to that of adjacent parts of New Guinea and so their music is also related. Music is a vital part of Indigenous Australians' cultural maintenance.
A didgeridoo is a type of musical instrument that, according to western musicological classification, falls into the category of aerophone. It is one of the oldest instruments to date. It consists of a long tube, without finger holes, through which the player blows. It is sometimes fitted with a mouthpiece of beeswax. Didgeridoos are traditionally made of eucalyptus, but contemporary materials such as PVC piping are used. In traditional situations it is played only by men, usually as an accompaniment to ceremonial or recreational singing, or, much more rarely, as a solo instrument. Skilled players use the technique of circular breathing to achieve a continuous sound, and also employ techniques for inducing multiple harmonic resonances. Although traditionally the instrument was not widespread around the country – it was only used by Aboriginal groups in the most northerly areas .
A clapstick is a type of musical instrument that, according to western musicological classification, falls into the category of percussion. Unlike drumsticks, which are generally used to strike a drum, clapsticks are intended for striking one stick on another, and people as well. They are of oval shape with paintings of snakes, lizards, birds and more.
Used as a hand-held free reed instrument.
A bullroarer consists of a weighted airfoil (a rectangular thin slat of wood about 15 cm (6 in) to 60 cm (24 in) long and about 1.25 cm (0.5 in) to 5 cm (2 in) wide) attached to a long cord. Typically, the wood slat is trimmed down to a sharp edge around the edges, and serrations along the length of the wooden slat may or may not be used, depending on the cultural traditions of the region in question.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Bullroarer .|
The cord is given a slight initial twist, and the roarer is then swung in a large circle in a horizontal plane, or in a smaller circle in a vertical plane. The aerodynamics of the roarer will keep it spinning about its axis even after the initial twist has unwound. The cord winds fully first in one direction and then the other, alternating.
It makes a characteristic roaring vibrato sound with notable sound modulations occurring from the rotation of the roarer along its longitudinal axis, and the choice of whether a shorter or longer length of cord is used to spin the bullroarer. By modifying the expansiveness of its circuit and the speed given it, and by changing the plane in which the bullroarer is whirled from horizontal to vertical or vice versa, the modulation of the sound produced can be controlled, making the coding of information possible.
The low-frequency component of the sound travels extremely long distances, clearly audible over many miles on a quiet night.
Various cultures have used bullroarers as musical, ritual, and religious instruments and long-range communication devices for at least 19,000 years.[ citation needed ]
Bullroarers have been used in initiation ceremonies and in burials to ward off evil spirits, bad tidings, and especially women and children. Bullroarers are considered secret men's business by all or almost all Aboriginal tribal groups, and hence forbidden for women, children, non-initiated men, or outsiders to even hear. Fison and Howitt documented this in "Kamilaroi and Kurnai" (page 198). Anyone caught breaching the imposed secrecy was to be punished by death.
They are used in men's initiation ceremonies, and the sound they produce is considered in some indigenous cultures to represent the sound of the Rainbow Serpent [ citation needed ]. In the cultures of southeastern Australia, the sound of the bullroarer is the voice of Daramulan, and a successful bullroarer can only be made if it has been cut from a tree containing his spirit.
Use of Bullroarers have also been documented in Ancient Greece, Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, Mali, New Zealand, and the Americas, see Bullroarer . Banks Island Eskimos were still using Bullroarers in the 1960's, an old woman Susie scaring off a hungry polar bear.
In 2008, archaeologists discovered a bone flute in the Hohle Fels cave near Ulm, Germany.The five-holed flute has a V-shaped mouthpiece and is made from a vulture wing bone. The researchers involved in the discovery officially published their findings in the journal Nature in June 2009. It is one of several similar instruments found in the area, which date to at least 35,000 years ago, making this one of the oldest confirmed finds of any musical instruments in history. The Hohle Fels flute was found next to the Venus of Hohle Fels and a short distance from the oldest known human carving. On announcing the discovery, scientists suggested that the "finds demonstrate the presence of a well-established musical tradition at the time when modern humans colonized Europe". Scientists have also suggested that the discovery of the flute may help to explain why early humans survived, while Neanderthals became extinct.
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On the island of Keros (Κέρος), two marble statues from the late Neolithic culture called Early Cycladic culture (2900–2000 BCE) were discovered together in a single grave in the 19th century. They depict a standing double flute player and a sitting musician playing a triangular-shaped lyre or harp. The harpist is approximately 23 cm (9 in) high and dates to around 2700–2500 BCE. He expresses concentration and intense feelings and tilts his head up to the light. The meaning of these and many other figures is not known; perhaps they were used to ward off evil spirits or had religious significance or served as toys or depicted figures from mythology.
The oldest known wooden pipes were discovered in Wicklow, Ireland, in the winter of 2003, carbon-dated at around 2167±30 BCE. A wood-lined pit contained a group of six flutes made from yew wood, between 30 and 50 cm (12 and 20 in) long, tapered at one end, but without any finger holes. They may once have been strapped together.
The oldest flute ever discovered may be the so-called Divje Babe flute, found in the Cerkno Hills, Slovenia in 1995, though this is disputed.The item in question is a fragment of the femur of a juvenile cave bear, and has been dated to about 43,000 years ago. However, whether it is truly a musical instrument or simply a carnivore-chewed bone is a matter of ongoing debate. In 2012 some flutes, that were discovered years earlier in the Geißenklösterle cave, received a new high-resolution carbon-dating examination yielding an age of 42,000 to 43,000 years.
For thousands of years, Canada has been inhabited by Indigenous Peoples [Aboriginal peoples in Canada] from a variety of different cultures and of several major linguistic groupings. Each of the Indigenous communities had (and have) their own unique musical traditions. Chanting – singing is widely popular, with many of its performers also using a variety of musical instruments.They used the materials at hand to make their instruments for thousands of years before Europeans immigrated to the new world. They made gourds and animal horns into rattles which were elaborately carved and beautifully painted. In woodland areas, they made horns of birchbark along with drumsticks of carved antlers and wood. Drums were generally made of carved wood and animal hides. These musical instruments provide the background for songs and dances.
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The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel–Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, flutist or, less commonly, fluter or flutenist.
The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used to make tools with an edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period lasted for roughly 3.4 million years, and ended between 8700 BCE and 2000 BCE, with the advent of metalworking. Though some simple metalworking of malleable metals, particularly the use of gold and copper for purposes of ornamentation, was known in the Stone Age, it is the melting and smelting of copper that marks the end of the Stone Age. In western Asia this occurred by about 3000 BCE, when bronze became widespread. The term Bronze Age is used to describe the cultures that used it.
Music is found in every known culture and religion, past and present, varying widely between times and places. Since all people of the world, including the most isolated tribal groups, have a form of music, it may be concluded that music is likely to have been present in the ancestral population prior to the dispersal of humans around the world. Consequently, the first music may have been invented in Africa and then evolved to become a fundamental constituent of human life.
An aerophone is a musical instrument that produces sound primarily by causing a body of air to vibrate, without the use of strings or membranes, and without the vibration of the instrument itself adding considerably to the sound.
The bullroarer, rhombus, or turndun, is an ancient ritual musical instrument and a device historically used for communicating over great distances. It dates to the Paleolithic period, being found in Ukraine dating from 18,000 BC. Anthropologist Michael Boyd, a bullroarer expert, documents a number found in Europe, Asia, the Indian sub-continent, Africa, the Americas, and Australia.
The Aurignacian is an archaeological tradition of the Upper Palaeolithic associated with European early modern humans (EEMH) lasting from 43,000 to 26,000 years ago. The Upper Paleolithic developed in Europe some time after the Levant, where the Emiran period and the Ahmarian period form the first periods of the Upper Paleolithic, corresponding to the first stages of the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa. They then migrated to Europe and created the first European culture of modern humans, the Aurignacian.
The Upper Paleolithic is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. Very broadly, it dates to between 50,000 and 12,000 years ago, according to some theories coinciding with the appearance of behavioral modernity in early modern humans, until the advent of the Neolithic Revolution and agriculture.
Ancient music refers to the musical systems that were developed in past, literate cultures, including Mesopotamia, India, Persia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome, which replaced prehistoric music. Designated by the characterization of the basic notes and scales, ancient music was transmitted through oral or written systems.
In archaeology, a bone tool is a tool created from bone. A bone tool can conceivably be created from almost any bone, and in a variety of methods.
The Divje Babe Flute is a cave bear femur pierced by spaced holes that was found in 1995 at the Divje Babe archeological park located near Cerkno in northwestern Slovenia. It has been suggested that it was made by Neanderthals as a form of musical instrument, its hole spacing and alignment leading to its being labeled a "Neanderthal flute." Slovenian archeologist Mitja Brodar, however, argues that it was made by Cro-Magnons as an element of Central European Aurignacian culture. Despite alternative hypotheses suggesting it was formed by animals, the artifact remains on prominent public display in the National Museum of Slovenia in Ljubljana as a Neanderthal flute. As such, it is possibly the world's oldest known musical instrument.
A large minority of people in North Asia, particularly in Siberia, follow the religio-cultural practices of shamanism. Some researchers regard Siberia as the heartland of shamanism.
Paleolithic Europe, the Lower or Old Stone Age in Europe, encompasses the era from the arrival of the first archaic humans, about 1.4 million years ago until the beginning of the Mesolithic around 10,000 years ago. This period thus covers over 99% of the total human presence on the European continent. The early arrival and disappearance of Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis, the appearance, complete evolution and eventual demise of Homo neanderthalensis and the immigration and successful settlement of Homo sapiens all have taken place during the European Paleolithic.
Divje Babe is a Karst cave and archaeological park overlooking the Idrijca River in Slovenia. It is noted for its Paleolithic remains, including the worked bone of cave bear known as the Divje Babe Flute, which has been interpreted as a Neanderthal musical instrument.
The Venus of Hohle Fels is an Upper Paleolithic Venus figurine made of mammoth ivory that was unearthed in 2008 in Hohle Fels, a cave near Schelklingen, Germany. It is dated to between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago, belonging to the early Aurignacian, at the very beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, which is associated with the earliest presence of Cro-Magnon in Europe.
The Hohle Fels is a cave in the Swabian Jura of Germany that has yielded a number of important archaeological finds dating from the Upper Paleolithic. Artifacts found in the cave represent some of the earliest examples of prehistoric art and musical instruments ever discovered. The cave is just outside the town of Schelklingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg, near Ulm. In 2017 the site became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura".
The oldest undisputed examples of figurative art are known from Europe and from Sulawesi, Indonesia, dated about 35,000 years old . Together with religion and other cultural universals of contemporary human societies, the emergence of figurative art is a necessary attribute of full behavioral modernity.
Geissenklösterle is an archaeological site of significance for the central European Upper Paleolithic, located near the town of Blaubeuren in the Swabian Jura in Baden-Württemberg, southern Germany. First explored in 1963, the cave contains traces of early prehistoric art from between 43,000 and 30,000 years ago. In 2017 the site became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura.
During regular archaeological excavations several flutes, that date to the European Upper Paleolithic have been discovered in caves in the Swabian Alb region of Germany. Dated and tested independently by two laboratories, in England and Germany, the artifacts are authentic products of the Homo sapiens Aurignacian archaeological culture, made in between 43,000 and 35,000 years ago. The flutes, made of bone and ivory, represent the earliest known musical instruments and provide unmistakable evidence of prehistoric music. The flutes were found in the Caves with the oldest Ice Age art, where also the oldest known examples of figurative art were discovered. Music and sculpture as artistic expression have developed simultaneously among the first humans in Europe, as the region is considered a key area in which various cultural innovations have developed. Experts say, besides serving recreation and religious purposes, ritual music might have helped to maintain larger social networks, a competitive advantage over the Neanderthals.
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates to the beginnings of human culture. Early musical instruments may have been used for ritual, such as a horn to signal success on the hunt, or a drum in a religious ceremony. Cultures eventually developed composition and performance of melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications and technologies.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to prehistoric technology.
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