Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ancient Musical Intstruments Found in Cave!

In an article recently posted by NPR, I read that scientists recently unearthed musical instruments, flutes to be exact, dating almost 35,000 to 40,000 years ago in caves in southwestern Germany. The flutes are made of hollowed-out mammoth tusk and vulture wing bone. You can hear a simple song played on one of the flutes by clicking here.

I find this idea fantastic, that in the earliest days of our species we sought to create music. As I was reading the article, I began thinking about the cave paintings in Altamira, Spain that date back roughly 14,000 years ago. This would mean that the flutes pre-date the paintings as one of the earliest forms of creative work that our species produced (tools and weapons notwithstanding). I began to reflect on my own experience of the arts and music and how both move me (with great emotional force at times). I can imagine that the sound created by the simple flutes were accompanied, as one of the archeologists proposes, by hand claps and chest thumps as well as possibly some form of audible singing. As I wondered what this earliest music sounded like, I began to think that art, though remarkably engaging, cannot produce the kind of solace that sound can. As I stated earlier, I am deeply moved by works of art in all its many mediums but sound offers me considerable more solace. Sound communicates emotion: a fast tempo with high-pitched notes communicates excitement, possibly happiness or joy while a slow tempo with low notes communicates sadness and elicits reflection. All that being said, what moves you? Are you moved by the visual stimulation that the visual arts, in all of its mediums allow? Are you moved by the sounds and intonations of song and instrumentation?

P.S.-Please forgive if my terminology is off, I am neither a trained visual artist or a musician.

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