Ancient Civilization
Contributions and Accomplishments - Birth of a City - Sumerian Art -
Religion in Mesopotamia - Music - Writing


SUMERIAN MUSIC


 We have all kinds of evidence that the Sumerians loved music. It seemed to be an important part of religious and civic life in Sumer. Although we can't hear that music, we can reconstruct the instruments and get an idea about the sounds and the rhythms that were heard.

In Sumer the BULL was a symbol of fertility and divine power. This Sumerian lyre (2600 BC) is made of gold and lapis lazuli and has a plaited beard-a plaited beard was sometimes a sign of divinity. This lyre was fashioned into the shape of a bull. The bull's body acts as the soundbox. There have been other lyres found in the shape of bull's horns, with strings stretched between those horns.

Before playing a stringed instrument, the musicians would wash their hands to purify them. Many of the songs were for the Goddess Innana.

Dancing girls used clappers to provide rhythm...and eventually drums and wind instruments made their appearance as well.

 We know that music and dancing were a part of daily celebration and temple rites-music was played for marriages and births in the royal families. Music was also used to back up the recitation of poetry, as in Greece.

In general music was a utilitarian art. It was played at occasions but probably not played simply for enjoyment-as in a concert in our society.

Musicians were trained in schools and formed an important professional class in Mesopotamia.



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