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 for and resulting 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 the 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 creation of my ultra-experimental LP, "Ascension of the Lyre"
The concept also has inspired my brand new series of Youtube videos, "21st Century Lyre Music?"
In the Youtube series of videos, it has been my aim to transport the forgotten lyre of antiquity into the 21st century musical experience, using a selection of some of the very same effects which have made the electric guitar so popular...ins such an alternative Universe, I wonder if the late great Jimi Hendrix would have also been inspired to set fire to the lyre...my fiendish musical experiments can all be seen & heard below!
THE LYRE OF ANTIQUITY - WITH FLANGER!
The video features a performance of one of my favourite compositions for solo lyre - Nero's Lyre (a lament for solo lyre in the just intonation of antiquity)...with VERY 21st century Flanger effects, (courtesy of my VOX Valvetonix Guitar Amp!!):
THE LYRE OF ANTIQUITY - WITH AUTO-WAH!
The video features a completely spontaneous improvisation for solo lyre - with "sonically surreal" AUTO WAH effects...
THE LYRE OF ANTIQUITY - WITH DISTORTION!
The video features a performance of "Gloria Belli" (Glory of Battle), track 7 from my album "The Ancient Roman Lyre" - with DISTORTION & FLANGER REVERB! In this particular video, the lyre of antiquity, has been dragged, quite literally, kicking and screaming into the 21st century:
THE LYRE OF ANTIQUITY - WITH PHASER!
The video features a performance of my composition "Hymn to Zeus", track 3 from my album "Apollo's Lyre"...with trippy PHASER effects!
This latest experiment was the one which I think actually added something unique to the tone of the lyre and the reason for this, is, ironically, maybe something to do with how the actual Classical Kithara of ancient Greece may have actually sounded! Indeed, there has been fascinating research, to suggest that the Kithara had a really unique spring & counterweight mechanism incorporated into the instrument, which allowed the arms of the Kithara to have some lateral movement when the strings were struck, thus slightly altering the string tension. The counterweight attached at the ends of the arms then served the function of slowing down the speed of this subtle pitch-bending lateral oscillation of the arms of the Kithara which created a vocal-style vibrato effect! A detailed PDF of the research paper by Pavel Kurfurst on this topic, can be freely downloaded here
The phaser effect with my lyre, is probably as near as I can get, to recreating an evocation of what this fabulous vibrato technique on the Kithara may actually have sounded, some 2500 years ago!
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of oblivion, maybe one day, the wonderful lyre of antiquity will once again become a part of the everyday musical experience of mankind - my musical experiments may be a catalyst to spark the brave new "Lyre Music Revolution" to (hopefully!) come...