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Modal Music and origines

vhollund

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3,519
When I was doing some work for an exposition about the first shepherds in the alps some years ago , I researched i little to find out what music they where playing 2000 years ago....

...i found that there are musicians who have dedicated themselves to reproduce greco/roman music dating as old as 2000 b c (!) from "sheet music" painted on stone or imprinted in clay.
Using the instruments of that time

When listening to it , i did however get the feeling that the music would have been meant to be sometimes much less "academic" , faster and wilder,
and that like in various (celtic) folk music, it would have been ruled by the steps of the dance.

A lot of the european (celtic) folk music i know of have roots in the 16-17th century and resembles the music composed then. Ofcourse we can not know for how long that tradition had been kept true /alive before, probably for centuries
The similar use of drones or a static interval was already present in the old greco-roman music. (w double flute)
And many of the instruments still exist today in various traditional folk music all over Europe. (There has been huge migrations)
...I think it is fair to say that folk music has a habit of staying true to traditions, even when creating new music "on the side"

But.... If you listen to trad Bulgarian folk-music today ...I found it had a lot of similitudes / traits that resemble the Greco-Roman music , just being much wilder and better executed by the Bulgarians. (And I'm pretty convinced they weren't worse musicians back then...+2000 years ago)
I ended up using the Bulgarian /romanian flute music since the shepherds came from there originally.

The resemblance made me feel it was ok to presume it could have sounded like that 2000 years ago.

That's for the Greco-Roman tradition

I know of another very detailed and old modal tradition that can be found in Turkey and Northern Africa,
A friend of mine play oud which, in it's roughest/oldest form, is a stick with a coconut or turtle or calabash on it with goat skin on it , strings of goat skin.

The forefather to the Guitar , which became the 4 stringed Oud, that I think was introduced in Europe during the Maurian invasion of spain / west byzantine , and the fall of Constantinoble to the Turcs/ossmans (1453). Anyway somewhere in there... ;)

The tradition of how to play the modes on the Oud, and use the pick (tortue often) is VERY elaborate and concise including the internal state as well as the tenure of the wrist.

Just felt like sharing some of the "discoveries" about "Modal music"; and our inheritance that I've found interesting... with all that "Mode" vs "Scale" vs "Modal" going on here :)
 
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JonR

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14,849
When I was doing some work for an exposition about the first shepherds in the alps some years ago , I researched i little to find out what music they where playing 2000 years ago....

...i found that there are musicians who have dedicated themselves to reproduce greco/roman music dating as old as 2000 b c (!) from "sheet music" painted on stone or imprinted in clay.
I'd be very interested to see images of that "notation". Links?
 

JonR

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I know of another very detailed and old modal tradition that can be found in Turkey and Northern Africa,
A friend of mine play oud which in t's rougest form is a stick with a coconut or turtle or calabash on it with skin on it , strings of goat skin.

The forefather to the Guitar , which became the 4 stringed Oud, that I think was introduced in Europe during the Maurian invasion of spain / west byzantine , and the fall of Constantinoble to the Turcs (1453). Anyway somewhere in there... ;)
Yes. The oud = "l'oud" = "lute".
AFAIK, there were other guitar-like instruments in Europe predating the lute, but the Spanish guitar tradition clearly has strong links with the Moors and Islamic North Africa.
The tradition of how to play the modes on the Oud, and use the pick (tortue often) is VERY elaborate and concise including the internal state as well as the tenure of the wrist.

Just felt like sharing some of the "discoveries" about "Modal music"; and our inheritance that I've found interesting... with all that "Mode" vs "Scale" vs "Modal" going on here :)
Yes, most ethnic music from North Africa through the Middle East, Iran and India is modal in nature. Indian raga is possibly the most sophisticated type of modal (drone-based) music, with far more scales in use than we have in the west.
 

JonR

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I don't think i found it on the internet , but you can google it yourself and probably find something ;)
Wiki has this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_notation
I'm guessing the image of the clay tablet is what you were referring to. I'll have to take on trust the assertion that such notation "was capable of representing pitch and note-duration, and to a limited extent, harmony" ("citaton needed", as wiki points out - according to other sources, if there was any harmony in that music, it wouldn't have been anything like what we call harmony).
I presume there are scholars of Greek who can deduce all that information from those minimal symbols (above the lettering)...
 

vhollund

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3,519
It has been done , but they also had papyrus rolls
...
The Oud (العود ) predates the Lute

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oud

The oldest pictorial record of an Oud dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia (modern Nasiriyah city), over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon and currently housed at the British Museum.[8]
...
I was working from the sources of a (huge) public library with a huge discotheque (no not what you would immediately think it is);)
But i found this just now :
http://www.youtube.com/user/generalpatton3?feature=watch

I'm sure there are others on YT
 
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JonR

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It has been done , but they also had papyrus rolls
Uh-huh:
http://classics.uc.edu/music/yale/index.html
Optimistic audio examples too - "necessarily approximate": no doubt!
I can see that the symbols indicate pitches, and perhaps direction of melody, but I'm dubious about duration.
I also notice the admission that some of the pitch symbols are in "doubt".

Still, I'm impressed that - "Musicologists (with unanimity unusual among scholars) agree that the conventional notation is too high by about a minor third."
I'm baffled as to how they could possibly know the intended register, and what pitch reference was used in those days. Are there surviving instruments (pipes) whose tuning is known (in relation to the papyrus symbols)?
In any case, the conventional notation is not shown, so it's a kind of pointless comment.
(I'm not disputing the research, btw. And it's interesting to have at least a vague idea of what ancient Greek vocal music might have sounded like.)
The Oud predates the Lute
Yes I know. I was pointing out that the word lute comes from "l'oud", which obviously suggests the oud itself predates the lute, as well as being the model for the design of the lute - sorry that wasn't clear.
 
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vhollund

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I think is safe to say that the "Spanish guitar" is the result of an evolution from the oud , which became the lute with frets , and added first 1 , then two strings more became the guitar.
It is tuned in 4ths like a guitar , where f ex a mandolin is tuned in fifths like a Violin.
And I've seen Lutes with 5 strings and frets , as well as 6 stringed Guitars with Lute body, here in France. Not that they where that old , but i took it as a sign that even the tradition of the transition models might have been kept alive.

The Oud is well over 5000 years old

In Mauritania they still play the blues on an Oud (stick) /stick with turtle and goat skin:phones
 

JonR

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I was working from the sources of a (huge) public library with a huge discotheque (no not what you would immediately think it is);)
But i found this just now :
http://www.youtube.com/user/generalpatton3?feature=watch

I'm sure there are others on YT
Right - interesting, but I want more details of how that was arrived at. I take it the image is of an original Roman instrument (a type of ocarina by the look of it), but I'd like images of the notation used and what the level of interpretation is.

It's certainly good to know that the well-known European tradition of Christian church notation is not the only one... ;)
 

cameron

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Still, I'm impressed that - "Musicologists (with unanimity unusual among scholars) agree that the conventional notation is too high by about a minor third."
I'm baffled as to how they could possibly know the intended register, and what pitch reference was used in those days. Are there surviving instruments (pipes) whose tuning is known (in relation to the papyrus symbols)?
Perhaps they have examples of ancient flutes or something like that, from the length and diameter of which they deduce how it was pitched?

But who knows . . .
 

JonR

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I think is safe to say that the "Spanish guitar" is the result of an evolution from the oud , which became the lute with frets , and added first 1 , then two strings more became the guitar.
Agreed.
The other "guitar-like" instruments were later, mostly Renaissance apparently:

1. Gittern. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gittern (like the oud, a Moorish instrument originally)

1. Cittern. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cittern

2. Vihuela http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vihuela

3. Various Portuguese guitars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_guitar
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viola_braguesa
The Cavaquinho (essentially a ukelele) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavaquinho - is an interesting one, with suggested links back to the Ancient Greek tetrachord (bypassing the lute).

4. English guitar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_guitar

Many of them look like guitars, but the string arrangement of the modern guitar is much closer to lute (and therefore oud) than any of these.

The word "guitar" (like gittern, cittern and zither) derives from the Greek "cithara" or "kithara", which was really a type of harp. So there's all kinds of tangled etymology to go with the evolution of the instrument itself.
Eg the "Portuguese guitar" is more like a large mandolin. What we call a "guitar", the Portuguese call a "viola". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viola_caipira
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viola_braguesa
 

JonR

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Perhaps they have examples of ancient flutes or something like that, from the length and diameter of which they deduce how it was pitched?

But who knows . . .
Well, there are surviving flutes and ocarinas which make actual pitched sounds. But AFAIK, we don't know what the Greeks and Romans called those particular notes - unless perhaps they had symbols carved on them, or there are surviving manuals... (something else I'd need to look up ;))
 

JonR

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Bulgarian folk melodies are cool, but the real payoffs are their awesome
music videos!
I feel the reverse. The state female choir makes a truly awesome, other-worldly sound, but they look like a bunch of grannies wearing tablecloths.
Take a listen to these harmonies:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z1wCyLKKus
- that's among my top 5 pieces of recorded music, ever. But I don't really want to watch them singing it. (And knowing what the lyrics mean detracts from its awesomeness too.)
 

vhollund

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I can only say it exists.

Images

But like i said , i found myself, the renditions too mid-eval and that the Romanian and Bulgarian music sounded more likely of what i think would have been the spririt of the execution



Translation :

"I'm Weary of my groaning"


I mean come on ! :JAM, don't they sound just a liiittle bit too pretty frigid ?
 
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vhollund

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3,519
Perhaps they have examples of ancient flutes or something like that, from the length and diameter of which they deduce how it was pitched?

But who knows . . .
Yes, they have.
Actually it's pretty amazing, the oldes flutes they have are 40.000 years old , made from Mamooth tooth and play pentatonic. (!)


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...an-cavemen-playing-music-40-000-years-BC.html


AND they've found several 8000 year old bird bone flutes , with 7 note scales (!)

http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/boneflutes.htm
 
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cue311

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I feel the reverse. The state female choir makes a truly awesome, other-worldly sound, but they look like a bunch of grannies wearing tablecloths.
Take a listen to these harmonies:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z1wCyLKKus
- that's among my top 5 pieces of recorded music, ever. But I don't really want to watch them singing it. (And knowing what the lyrics mean detracts from its awesomeness too.)
I was just kidding. My wife is from BG and I actually have a CD from these ladies somewhere in my car. :p
 




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