Music is a unique form of art with a Greek origin that denotes “art of the Muses”. Since the dawn of human civilisation music has been performed through numerous means. It is not known what led to its creation, but the role of nature may have played a role. While the oldest written song was composed approximately 4000 years ago, the existence of ancient musical instruments can be traced back to more ancient times. Some of the greatest inventors in history are those maestros who created the path breaking musical instruments!
Listed below are 7 ancient era inventions that left a profound impact on the global music scene:
1. The Prehistoric Flute
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The most ancient human made musical instrument is a set of prehistoric flute discovered in southern Germany. Found in a cave the flutes were made using bird bone and mammoth ivory. These are reportedly 40000 years old. The flutes are open ended and feature finger holes. This is something that can make even famous music composers sit up and roll up their eyes in amazement. It is amazing that so long back when the primal need of humans was to hunt and survive; someone found the time to design a musical instrument!
1. The Octave Scale and Notation
It is true that several ancient civilizations developed musical scales of their own. However, Pythagoras the legendary Greek thinker was the pioneer in developing mathematically-based, near-perfect scale that included tones and “hemitones”- precursors of the octave scale. It is among those notable Greek inventions that leave everyone, including historians baffled and awestruck. While Pythagoras may not have invented all of it, the historians believe his contribution is the largest in this regard.
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Typically, bells are associated with schools and churches. However, they have also been used since ancient times as percussion instruments. The bells at Athens Agia Triada Monastery can be cited as an example of how certain musical instruments have been used as a part of religious rituals.
3. Double Bass
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The double bass is actually known by many other names like contrabass, bass violin. The earliest instance of double-bass instrument was made in 1516. The inventor was Domenico Dragonetti and it was used in the orchestra. It is the biggest as well as the lowest-pitched bowed string musical instrument used in a symphony orchestra.
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A precursor to the piano, harpsichord was quite popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods in Western Europe. The harpsichord had a keyboard with attached levers. These levers were pressed to produce sounds. With the rise in the popularity of the piano, it faded out of favor.
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It may not be a very well-known musical instrument, but the trombone belongs to the Brass family. Trombones rely on a telescoping slide mechanism for altering the pitch. The name has origin in Italian tromba, denoting trumpet. It is also called sackbut. The instrument was invented back in the 15th century.
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Trumpet is among popular musical instruments that have been used since the ancient ages. It has managed to survive the test of time very well. The ancient tribes have used what can be called predecessors of modern era trumpet for thousands of years. However, the ancient trumpets were used more in warfare and hunting activities than for musical performances. The earliest examples can be traced to 1500 BC or so. Initially, materials like conch shells and animal horns were used and later metals were used to make trumpets. From the 15th century, its use in musical events shot up.
Some More Noteworthy Inventions Related to Music
There are some other musical innovations that deserve a mention here. These are:
Roman Inventions: When it comes to ancient musical inventions, mention must be made of some marvelous Roman inventions. The Roman tuba is one such example. It was extensively used in the Roman military. It was used a lot in the parades and funerals, but the leaders used it to convey instructions to the soldiers.
French Inventions: The French also had their contributions to the music scene. In the 17th century, French musicians Michel Danican Philidor and Jean Hotteterre invented the Oboe. It was a dual reeded instrument made of wood. The oboe was used as a main melody instrument, but later it was succeeded by the clarinet, which is still popular. The Oboe was developed on a double-reed instrument called the shawm, which has eastern Mediterranean roots.
Italian Inventions: Ocarina, a ceramic made musical wind instrument- modeled on ancient era wind instruments. It was in 1853 that Giuseppe Donati, an Italian inventor came up with it. There are some variations of the instrument, but the majority is made with 10 holes. Clay and ceramic are used in most cases, but you can also find other materials like plastic, wood, glass or bone.
Guest Author Bio:
Vandana is the Co-founder and Editor of Historyly, a teacher by profession. She has a passion for reading and writing about different historical periods. Historyly was started with the view to make ancient history meaningful and interesting to the everyday reader.