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  • Comparison Between Egyptian Music and Spanish Flamenco

    Criteria Egyptian Music Traditional Spanish Flamenco
    Images Egyptian Music Flamenco
    Early development The music and singing in the life of Egypt had considerable attention since the 1st Dynasty, c. 3000 BC Music in the North of the Iberian Peninsula has a clear Celtic influence which dates to pre-Roman times, Southern flamenco music is certainly reminiscent of Eastern influences, Moors and Jews starting form 711 A.D.
    State Sponsorship priests and senior clergy and the state, headed by the Pharaoh all gave music special attention Flamenco sprang from the lower levels of Andalusia society, and thus lacked the prestige of art forms among the middle and higher classes
    Religious Role - Highly developed Music was an integral part of religious worship in Egypt, and had a central role in the religious rituals, hymns and prayers.
    - Hathor was the patron of music.
    Folk music - no religious role
    Musical instruments Large variety
    All the major categories of musical instruments percussion, wind and stringed were represented in pharaonic Egypt.
    1. Percussion instruments:
      1. Hand-held drums
      2. castanets
      3. Bells - first used during the Late Kingdom
      4. The sistrum - important rattle used in religious worship
      5. cymbals - used in temples in the Ptolemaic Period
    2. Wind instruments:
      1. Ugab - a vertical flute among first musical instruments used
      2. Trumpets
      3. Shofar - a ram's or goat's horn
    3. Stringed instruments:
      1. Kinnor a lyre similar to the kithara
      2. Harps - developed from hunting bows in the Old Kingdom
      3. Lutes - plucked rather than bowed
      4. Instruments were frequently inscribed with the name of the owner and decorated with representations of the goddess Hathor of music.
    Few instruments
    - There is disagreement as to whether primitive flamenco was accompanied by any instrument or not
    - Classical flamenco used only guitar and hand clapping as a rhythmic accompaniment
    Musicians Professional musicians occupied a variety of positions and social levels in Egypt:
    - The highest status belonged to temple musicians a position frequently held by women.
    - Musicians connected with the royal household were held in high esteem, as were certain gifted singers and harp players.
    - Somewhat lower on the social scale were musicians who acted as entertainers for parties and festivals, frequently accompanied by dancers
    - There is little evidence for the amateur musicians in pharaonic Egypt.
    Amateur Gypsies and dancers
    Musical characteristics Rhythmic music? - most musical scenes show dancers accompanied by musicians playing instruments
    - Egyptians did not notate their music, so attempts to reconstruct pharaonic music remain speculative.
    - Representational evidence can give a general idea of the sound of Egyptian music:
    1. Music was based on a scale of 5 tones without halftones. This fact can be concluded from the position of holes on flutes
    2. Ritual temple music was largely a matter of the rattling of the sistrum, accompanied by voice, sometimes with harp or percussion.
    3. Party scenes show naked female acrobatic dancers performing the same movement in unison.
    4. Both male and female voices were used in Egyptian music.
    - Originally Vocal music - primitive flamenco consisted of unaccompanied singing (cante)
    - Later, the songs were accompanied by flamenco guitar (toque), rhythmic hand clapping (palmas), rhythmic feet stomping (zapateado) and dance (baile)

    Musical Instruments of Egypt

    ImagesAngular HarpAngular harp
    HarpArched harp
    Use- Prior to the Middle Kingdom, depictions of harpists feature men as the chief musicians. Harps and other instruments were used for praise singing and entertainment at ritual, court, and military events.
    - Harps were favorite instruments during the New Kingdom and were shown in the hands of processional female musicians performing alone or in ensembles with singers, wind instruments, sistrums, and rattles.
    - Playing techniques varied as shown in paintings, including one and two handed playing
    Characteristics- Egyptian harps were made of wood, inlaid with bone and faience.
    - Harps varied greatly in form, size and the number of their strings.
    - They are represented in the ancient paintings with 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, 20, 21,and 22 strings
    - There was two types of harps:
    1. The small shoulder harps shaped as shallow arches. These were used during the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Most of the arched harps have fewer than ten strings
    2. The larger angular harp was invented in Mesopotamia around 1900 BC They replaced the arched harps during the New Kingdom, but their full adoption in Egypt took more than a millennium.
    This implied an early conservatism in Egyptian music, which was an observation confirmed by Plato's assertion that Egyptians "were forbidden to introduce any innovations in music"
    Historical Developments- The ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt are credited for introducing the harp, known to date from about 5,000 years ago.
    - Egyptian arched harps appear in depictions of the Old kingdom strating from the 4th Dynasty onwards, these developed from the hunting bow
    - Romans spread the use of harps in their vast empire, One ancient writer, Athenaeus, reports that an Alexandrian angular harp player music was so popular that citizens in Rome went about whistling his tunes
    - During the middle ages in Europe however a further development took place: adding a third structural member, the pillar, to support the far ends of the arch and sound box. The 'Triangular Frame harp' is depicted in manuscripts and sculpture from about the 8th century
    - In the early 19th century the harp lost popularity with Western music composers, being thought of primarily as a woman's instrument after Marie Antoinette popularised it as an activity for women.
    Useused in temples in the Ptolemaic Period
    Characteristics- Consists of a pair of slightly concave metal plates which produce a vibrant sound of indeterminate pitch
    - The ancient Egyptian cymbals closely resembled modern examples, the British Museum possesses two pairs of Egyptian cymbals which are thirteen centimetres in diameter, found in the coffin of Ankhhape a sacred musician
    Historical Developments- Known in Europe since the Middle Ages, they were introduced into the European orchestra by Nikolaus Adam Strungk in 1680
    - In Egypt Cymbals are used today in Egyptian belly dances
    Flute - Ugad
    TypeWind instrument
    UseFlutes known as ugads, were among the first musical instruments used
    Characteristics- Ancient Egyptians used very long flutes 90 cm in length and about 1.5 cm wide, the performer generally sat on the ground
    - They were made of nile bamboo, though later were imitated in bronze. The bamboo is characterisied by the presence of nodes which tends to narrow the diameter of the air column at each node.
    - The Egyptians blew the instrument through a lateral opening near one end, producing the modulations by means of holes on the sides. Flutes had usually five to seven finger-holes.
    - Double flutes made of two parallel pipes were known since the Old Kingdom. They had two pipes of unequal length, the longer was to play notes that the shorter pipe couldn't hit.
    Historical Developments- The flute was invented in ancient Egypt, and are depicted on a predynastic palettes from Hierakonpolis
    Some ancient Egyptian flutes have survived, preserved in tombs by the arid desert climate.
    - The pan flute was used in Greece from the 7th century BC, and spread to other parts of Europe during the Roman period. It was shorter than the Egyptian counterpart and did not exceed 30 cm in length
    - Flutes almost disappeared from Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, until the Crusades brought Europeans into contact with the Arabs. and are still used in the Balkans and the Basque regions of Spain
    - They never disappeared from te Egyptian culture and have survived to this day under the Arabic name of nay
    UseThe sistrum was a sacred instrument in ancient Egypt, used in dances and religious ceremonies, particularly in the worship of Hathor
    Characteristics- It consisted of a handle and a U-shaped bronze frame, 30 cm in width.
    - When shaken the small rings on its movable crossbars produced a sound that ranged from soft tinkling to loud jangling.
    Historical Developments- The sistrum was revived in 19th century Western orchestral music, appearing in Act 1 of the opera Les Troyens.
    - Sistra are still used in the rites of the Egyptian Coptic churches
    TypeWind instrument
    Use- The trumpet was not a military instrument. The sound it created were related to rebirth motifs, a transition from one stage to another. As such, they were utilized in:
    1. During funerary processions to wake up the deceased. As such, it was attributed to Osiris, the principle of resurrection.
    2. To announce both the new day at dusk and the end of the night at dawn. Trumpets in temple rituals always appeared in pairs. With the typical two horns: one was sounded at dawn, the other at dusk.
    3. To celebrate rebirth, as in the New Year festival
    Characteristics-They were generally 60 to 90 cm long, and made of bronze, with mouthpieces, and with bells at the other end.
    Historical Developments- Horns appeared in Ancient Egypt since the New Kingdom, and wer known as Buq meaning mouth
    The Earliest known examples are the bronze and silver trumpets from Tutankhamen tomb
    - In Roman times, trumpet playing was a guarded craft. The trumpet players were often among the most heavily guarded members of a troop armies, as they were relied upon to relay instructions to other sections of the army.
    - The Buq survived in the Spanish term 'Alboque' for the trumpet
    - Improvements to instrument design and metal making in the Renaissance period led to an increased usefulness of the trumpet as a musical instrument
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