From the recording Ancient Landscapes
"Lyre of the Levites" is my arrangement of a traditional Jewish Klezmer Melody (called "Unzer Toyrele"), performed on a replica of the 3000 year old ancient Biblical Lyre, once played by the Levites in the Temple of Jerusalem to accompany the singing of the Levitical Choir. This piece originally featured as track 1 from my album "Lyre of the Levites"...
KING DAVID'S LYRE
The truly ancient Jewish Kinnor, was the very first lyre to be mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, where it is now commonly mistranslated as "harp" - Jubal was the son of Lamech and Adah, a brother of Jabal, a descendant of Cain, and according to the Bible, "he was the ancestor of all who played the lyre and pipe" (Genesis 4:21).
References to this beautiful Biblical lyre of antiquity can also be found throughout the entire text of the Hebrew Bible, for example:
Psalm 33:2, 43:4, 49:4, 57:8, 71:22, 81:2, 92:3, 98:5, 98:5, 108:2, 147:7, 149:3, 150:3, 137:2
In Biblical times, the Kinnor was usually made of cypress wood, or in very precious instruments, of sandalwood (I Kings 10: 12; described as "almug"). According to the ancient writings of the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, who actually witnessed the Kinnor being played by the Levites in the Temple of Jerusalem, the Kinnor had ten strings, made of sheep gut.
The Biblical Kinnor Lyre was the actual "Harp of David", once played by King David himself, 3000 years ago, as he danced before the very Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6:5), and for over 1000 years, the mystical resonance of the Kinnor could be heard wafting down from the Temple Mount, as my very own, very ancient Levite ancestors played their Kinnors in the Courtyard of the Temple of Jerusalem, to accompany the almost legendary singing of the Levitical Choir (II Chronicles 5:12).
The Kinnor on which I am playing, is of the Second Temple Era design; from the actual time of Jesus! The design of my replica instrument is based illustrations of the Kinnor depicted on ancient Jewish coins minted at the time of the Simon Bar Kochba Revolt against the Roman occupation in Israel (a photograph of such a coin can be seen the cover of the album).
The design of the Jewish Temple Lyre in the time of Jesus is remarkably similar to the ancient Greek Kithara; the large wooden lyre played by the professional musicians of ancient Greece. This could possibly demonstrate the Hellenistic influence on Jewish culture at this time? Indeed, it is know that Herod often imported Greek musicians for the various festivals in Jerusalem.