PERSONAL LYRE TUITION ON SKYPE

Further to my recent YouTube series of 'online lyre lessons' for both the chelys (tortoise shell form) range of lyres  and the replica ancient Greek kithara, hand-made in modern Greece by Luthieros, I am now offering personal lyre tuition to anyone, anywhere in the world, via Skype! 



Drawing on my previous experience and infinite patience gained from of over a decade of providing piano lessons to absolute beginners of all ages, I am able to offer lyre tuition to either adults or children, absolute beginners or students already possessing some musical knowledge.

HOW TO ACQUIRE A LYRE!

In this extensive blog, I list all the makers of replica lyres I know of, from around the world! 

These include makers of evocations of the Biblical lyres, the Classical lyres of ancient Greece & Rome, as well as makers of replica Northern European lyres.

I also list make of Middle Eastern lyres, still played today, such as the Egyptian Simmsimiyya & archaic African harps, almost identical to the ancient Egyptian arched harp, such as the Ugandan Adungu...

MAKERS OF THE CLASSICAL LYRES OF ANCIENT GREECE 


LUTHIEROS ANCIENT AND MODERN MUSIC INSTRUMENTS


Based in Thessaloniki, Greece, Luthieros is formed of members of the Koumartzis family, who specialize in recreating beautiful replicas of the ancient Greek Lyra - the lyre of Classical antiquity which had a soundboard of skin stretched over either a tortoise shell or wooden resonator. I have recently entered into an exciting new collaboration with Luthieros, entitled "The Lyre 2.0 Project" - dedicated to reintroducing the beautiful lyre of antiquity back into our much less beautiful, bland modern world.



To view and order from the stunning range of these beautifully hand-crafted lyres, please visit
the Luthieros Etsy Store

One of the main goals I have in both creating this website and in creating my albums for solo lyre, is the in doing so, I may one day hope to create a future legacy, where once again, the lyre will become an essential ingredient of all modern music - this was the vision which inspired my ultra experimental LP, "Ascension of the Lyre".

Therefore, to further my cause, as there is absolutely no other sheet music available out there, to rekindle the long forgotten art of lyre learning, after copious laborious scrawling, I am pleased to announce that I have compiled a free 10 page PDF booklet of some actual written musical notation for lyre! 

The booklet features a selection of simplified arrangements of my original compositions as featured in my lyre albums, including my arrangements of 2 examples of the actual surviving music of ancient Greece.

For in depth tips on all aspects of lyre performance, using either the tunes in this booklet or any other required melodies as a basis 
I offer affordable courses of one-to-one, personal lyre tuition on Skype:


LET THE LYRE LEARNING REVOLUTION BEGIN!





 

Never underestimate the power of Google Search - I have recently found the answers to two intriguing questions regarding the lyres of antiquity...right here, in my lounge, on my laptop!




The first puzzle I managed to resolve, was

THE "432 HERTZ THING"!


 
In the West, modern standard concert pitch for the note A has constantly been changing over the centuries and since 1955, it has currently been set by the International Organization for Standardization at 440 Hz - but if anyone dares to Google search "A at 432 Hz", one is drowned in a whole tsunami of gigabytes of 'information' about how 432 Hz is the frequency of the cosmos, that this is a "spiritual" frequency, that this was the reference pitch used by all ancient civilizations and that the 440 Hz we now use for A, was all a Nazi conspiracy to make mankind become more paranoid !

There is even that 432 Hz is a "healing frequency" which magically matches the resonant frequency of human DNA - 
the real irony of the belief in the "healing frequency" stuff to do with 432 Hz, is that this has gotten confused amongst hard-core New Age believers with yet another New Age unproven assertion about primordial 
"Solfeggio" healing frequencies which are apparently at 528 Hz!

The most bizarre New Age muddled mayhem I have so far come across in my research, is



THE CONCEPT OF MUSIC - A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS

What is music? A usual response would be a pleasant melody...but to the tortured philosopher like myself, one has to dig deeper and ask, when is a collection of notes a "melody", and what is it about music, that actually defines it as "music" as opposed to any other type of sound? This is the nature of philosophical inquiry - digging away at a deeper level to discover what may be the actual raw concept of whatever topic is being subjected to the rigours of philosophical investigation!

The way this refining nature of philosophical analysis has been done since the days of Plato & Socrates, is that of argument and counter-argument, until a core of truth may finally be revealed....



Using these methods, then, I shall ask again, what is music?

Sadly, the wonderful Classical lyre of antiquity fell into disuse and eventually oblivion at the end of the Dark Ages in the West, not replaced by the harp, but by the increasing preference and development of the fretted lute family of instruments, leading eventually to the evolution of the modern guitar and in modern times, the electric guitar, which was to become part of the very fabric of modern popular music we know today...

However, imagine an "Alternative Universe" - where instead, the preference may have been for the timeless lyre and as a consequence, all of the fiendish fretted lute family were the musical instruments which vanished from the musical map of the 21st century! 

Imagining such an "Alternative Universe", the Classical lyre would have continued to have evolved, including the dawn of electric lyres (which would have become as familiar in popular music as the guitar is on our own, much poorer Universe!) What would the lyre have sounded like, then, if it had continued to develop into our present century? This novel idea may have been what also inspired the creator of "Star Trek" to feature Spock's "Vulcan Harp":



It was this concept, which inspired

THE BEGINNINGS OF MY FASCINATION WITH ANCIENT MUSIC


My interest in ancient music all started when I was just 14 - I happened to find an old cassette tape of the late great David Munrow's reconstruction of early medieval music. The transporting quality of the music immediately struck me - it was able to carry my mind back in time in a way so much more direct and immediate than any dusty text book or museum exhibit ever could; music alone, almost like a magic carpet, had the power to take the mind on a fabulous journey of time travel, back to simpler times, when magic was perceived to be part of the very fabric of the Universe, there was still the awe of the pantheon of the gods, and there a greater appreciation of the fragility and brevity of life. On a philosophical level, I wonder if it is it for some of these reasons, that we will always continue to be so fascinated and inspired by the ancient world?

 

 

MY CHILDHOOD FASCINATION WITH THE ANCIENT LYRE - REKINDLED!


Also in my 14th year, I happened to hear an old LP "Together", of the fabulous Classical guitarists, Julian Bream & John Williams - their arrangement of Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess" sent shivers down my spine, and for the first time, it's haunting, evocative harp-like tones and the middle section where the melody magically modulates into the hauntingly poignant ancient Greek Phrygian Mode (misnamed the "Dorian" mode in the Middle Ages) let me imagine what both the lyre of antiquity and the effect on the listener upon hearing the ancient musical modes, must have once sounded like...

Music is the only true magic of the ancients which we have left - only through music, is it possible to spontaneously conjure up, literally from from nothing, the most sublime sounds, which like a magic carpet, can transport the listener, to mystical, ancient landscapes, so long ago forgotten...





Throughout my journey of musical exploration, I have discovered that the timeless lyre almost has a "Soul" of it's own - once it is possible to learn to tap into it, the most magical music will flow, with no prior effort, laborious notation and compositional deliberation! In this blog, I want to reveal some of the ways I have found of composing new music for an ancient lyre...

One of my greatest musical discoveries over the last 4 years, was re-discovering the beauty and unique musical expression of each of the original ancient Greek Modes...

 

THE ANCIENT ORIGINAL GREEK MODES


The names of musical modes in use today, (e.g. Dorian, Mixolydian etc.) although having the same names as the original Greek musical modes, were actually 

LEARN HOW TO PLAY ANCIENT LYRES!

 

 


Several years ago, due to the lack of any publication, anywhere, on how to play the lyre, I posted a few series of somewhat unique "online lyre lesson" videos on my Youtube Channel! Please view these playlists below:

 


ANCIENT LYRE PLAYING TECHNIQUES

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From all of my extensive research and practical experimentation, I have discovered that the range of possible playing techniques for the lyre is only limited by one's musical imagination! To begin this analysis of some of these techniques, here is a video demonstrating and listing virtually all of them:


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INTRODUCTION


In attempting to demonstrate a variety of ancient tunings for my 10 string lyre to the layman with an interest in ancient music, I have decided to 

 HOW DID THE ANCIENT GREEKS TUNE A SEVEN-STRING LYRE?


The ancient Greek Kithara & Lyra generally had 7 strings - for the ancient Greeks, music represented the harmony of the Universe & so for them, the number 7 was spiritually significant - it could represent for them, the Seven Celestial Spheres...



INTRODUCTION


What follows is a list of tunings which I have researched & used in all my albums of ancient lyre music. These tunings include ancient Middle Eastern scales derived from my experience as a Klezmer musician, and which according to the work of the late Suzanne Haik Vantoura, also appear in the original 3000 year old music of the Bible! The tunings also include the original ancient Greek modes, as described in the writings of Plato & Aristotle, some 2400 years ago...

Having recently had the pleasure of seeing the famous Mosaics at Paphos in Cyprus,(dating from the between the 2nd - 4th centuries CE) I was fascinated to see in the mosaics, a rare lyre-playing technique which until then, I thought was unique to ancient Mesopotamia!

In illustrations of lyre players from ancient Mesopotamia, (Details of a relief from SW Palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh, ca. 701 BC), instead of a plectrum to pluck the strings, the lyre players use a

 

I am pleased to announce a new project, in collaboration with the Irish poet, Peter O'Neill. Created by Ciaran Leahy, this  new animation features my composition, "Orpheus's Lyre: Lament For Solo Lyre in the Just Intonation of Antiquity":

 


The animation, a joint collaboration project between Ciaran Leahy and the Dublin poet Peter O'Neill, is based on

I recently had the pleasure of being contacted by the Swedish Latin scholar, Martina Illing-Östlund, who wanted to use a track from my album "An Ancient Lyre" as the background music to her video, featuring a recitation of the timeless ancient Roman poem by Virgil, "Publii Vergilii Maronis Ecloga Decima"...

 


She decided to use one of my more rhythmic tracks on this album (my arrangement for solo lyre of the traditional Egyptian folk song "My Heart Was Burnt By Love") to fit better, the rhythm of the Hexameter of the original Latin text:

 

I was pleased to recently collaborate in a delightful new children's amateur dramatics video! The ancient Greek legend of Sisyphus featured in an extremely well-produced amateur video in which I gave permission to use clips from my album "The Ancient Greek Lyre". Sisyphus was condemned to push a rock up hill for all eternity, then see it roll back down again...

Having discovered the extreme antiquity of fretted lutes with skin-membrane soundboards in my research, which first appeared in ancient Mesopotamia, from c.3000 BCE & later in the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt, from c.1500 BCE, it occurred to me just how ancient the basic principle behind the modern banjo actually is!

Firstly, I will discuss the fascinating similarity between the ancient Egyptian fretted lute (c.1500 BCE) & the modern banjo...

 

 

 

 

CLETIC 


I would like to explore a little-known, fascinating Irish folk legend, that the Celtic Harp is, in fact, a direct ancestor of the Lyre of the Ancient Hebrews, which was apparently introduced to Ireland 2600 years ago by Israelites who fled there in exile, after the Fall the of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 BCE...

On 19th May 2012, I had the immense honour of being invited to play my lyre  at the world famous Roman Baths at Bath Spa, UK! My performance was part of a truly fabulous event at the Roman Baths organized by Bath Spa University students, which was called "Roman Sensations"

The event, held between 8.15pm - 11pm, evocatively lit by the flickering flames of torches, was part of the "Museums at Night"  initiative...

 

 

In May 2012, I was delighted to be invited to collaborate with Maryanne & Michael Tedstone of Manike Music  who are signed composers with Felt Music. I provided the lyre parts in the production of their epic Roman-themed album "SPQR" - which as well as being released on iTunes, this unique album will be licensed by Felt Music for use in television & film...

 

In February 2012, I had the pleasure of recording some seriously spontaneous improvisations with the talented folk harpist, Rebecca Penkett...


Rebecca Penkett

ANCIENT LYRES, SYNTHESIZERS & MODERN ART


I have had the pleasure of collaborating with the amazing US-based contemporary artist, Wolfgang Schweizer - we have started an exciting new joint project, featuring a new series of Wolfgang's paintings, inspired by my Lyre Music!

Wolfgang modifies the Lyre music with haunting synthesized effects, before painting incredible art, directly inspired by the music - it is now possible to literally "see" what my music sounds like! Below is a video featuring excerpts from our album, "Music and Paintings"

HOW TO CONSTRUCT YOUR OWN REPLICA LYRE OF THE ANCIENT HEBREWS!

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Here are the dimensions of my first lyre, which can be used by anyone wishing to also attempt to build their own instrument:

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