Early Music One of the most perplexing subjects for the archeologist as well as those interested in replicating early periods is music. Musical notation was not practiced, at least not in any form we understand now, and very few musical instruments survive.

Over the years, people have tried to replicate at least the sounds of early musical instruments by either sounding extant ones, or producing replicas which have been tested for range and sound. The largest number of instruments now available are of the trumpet or horn type. The notes produced by the following instruments are shown in Figure A. Two trumpets, one of bronze and one of silver were found in the tomb of Tutankamen.(Fig. 1). With the addition of a modern mouthpiece, both could be sounded.

Notes produced by experiment from ancient horns

a Roman lituus. Dusseldorf
b Bronze Age Horn. Chute Hall, Ireland
c Bronze Age Horn. Drumbest, Ireland
d Celtic Horn. Ardbrin, Ireland
e, f Bronze Age lurer, Brudevaelte, Denmark
g,h Tutankamen's trumpets in bronze and silver

Replicas of the Roman cornu (Fig. 2) and littus (Fig. 3) have been made and tested. The cornu produced 17 notes, the littus five.

Many instruments survive from Ireland. A large, curved horn (2.4 meters) has been found and can still be sounded (Fig. 4).

Over 100 horns from the Irish Late Bronze Age (900-600 B.C.) survive and a quarter of these can be sounded. They fall into two groups: end-blown horns and side-blown (Fig. 5). The end-blown horns have either one or two pieces with a cylindrical tube which inserts into a conical bell. Of the side-blown horns, none can be made to sound more than one note. The range is from g to d#.

Probably the most famous of all early horns are the lurer of the Northern European Bronze Age (1000 - 700 B.C.) (Fig. 6). They apparently were made in pairs with reverse curves so that they rather resembled the horns of an animal. They were tuned the same. After sounding the instruments it was concluded that they were probably used for ceremonial purposes rather than for entertainment.

Source: Coles, John Archaeology by Experiment. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973

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