Echoes of Ancient Mesopotamia & Canaan |


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“Lament of the Captives of Sennacherib” – track 2 from my new album, “Echoes of Ancient Mesopotamia & Canaan”; available now, from all the usual digital music platforms:

This album is my mostly historically inspired evocation, of the lost music of ancient Mesopotamia & Canaan; but as the final track, this release also features my most recent arrangement of the reconstructed melody of an actual bronze age hymn to Nikkal; the oldest notated fragment of music which can still be interpreted and performed today; performed this time, on a replica of an actual surviving bronze age lyre!

For most of the tracks, I play this fascinating replica of an actual, typical bronze age Canaanite form of asymmetric lyre; custom-made for me by Luthieros. The design of this lyre was based on the same proportions of a Canaanite form of lyre found in Egypt, dating to circa 1,500 BCE and which is preserved in Leiden.

These types of lyres were almost certainly introduced into Egypt during the reign of the Canaanite Hyksos kings, that ruled northern Egypt as the 15th dynasty, c.1630–1523 BCE.

The exotic, sitar-like tone of the bass strings of this lyre, are due to the flat-topped, groove-less bridge. As almost all the lyres still played throughout the African continent today still retain this distinctive buzzing timbre (particularly the Ethiopian begena), since the lyre originally probably came to Africa via ancient trade routes between the ancient Near East and Egypt, it is indeed far more likely, that this buzzing timbre of the lyre was much closer to the original ancient near eastern/middle eastern lyres of antiquity.

For some of the tracks, I also use the more sinister, darker timbre of my tenor register 10-string lyre – ideal for evoking the mystery of the long-forgotten pantheon of ancient Mesopotamian & Canaanite gods!

This track attempts to evoke the sort of poignant lament which must have been played by the Judean captives from Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish in 701 BCE – preserved in a Lachish bas relief from Sennacherib’s Palace at Nineveh, the image shows 3 Judean prisoners from the siege, being forced to play their lyres by an Assyrian guard, as they are being marched into slavery…



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