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The OLDEST surviving written melody so far discovered in HISTORY – performed on a replica lyre from the BRONZE AGE!

The oldest notated music which can be reconstructed, was the Bronze Age “Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal” – catalogued by archaeologists as ‘Hurrian Hymn Text H6’. For full details on this, my most recent arrangement of the 3,400 year old melody, the detailed track notes can be read here:

This track is from my 2020 album, “Echoes of Ancient Mesopotamia & Canaan” – also available from all the usual digital music platforms, here is the link to the album on Spotify:

In short, unlike my earlier arrangements of Dr Richard Dumbrill’s magnificent interpretation of the melody from the original Cuneiform text, besides featuring an actual replica Bronze Age lyre, keeping in accordance with Dumbrilll’s later recomendations, I also attempt to ‘Maqamise’ the outline of the 3,400 year old melody notated in Cuneiform – the specific ‘Maqam’ (mode) I use, bestows a far more evocative, ancient Middle Eastern ‘feel’ to the Hymn to Nikkal – which gives both more meaning & emphasis to the original surviving portion of text of the song; an invocation the Ugaritic goddess Nikkal (goddess of the orchards and wife of the moon god, Yarikh), to bestow her fertility upon barren women:

“Once I have endeared Nikkal, she will love me in her heart,
the offer I bring may wholly cover my sin,
bringing sesame oil may work on my behalf in awe may I …
The sterile may they make fertile.
Grain may they bring forth.
She, the wife, will bear children to the father.
May she who has not yet borne children, bear them.”

Maqam is the principal melodic concept in Middle Eastern musical thought and practice whose attributes are a scale consisting of a collection of tones, characteristic motifs to which an improviser or composer consistently returns, and a distinct character perceived by the informed listener.

Special thanks to Luthieros, for the custom-made, replica Canaanite form, asymmetrical lyre featured in this track; a replica of the 3,500 year ‘Leiden Lyre’ discovered almost 200 years ago in Thebes:

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