Arts: Music/Oldest Known Instrument term paper 15021

Arts: Music term papers
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The Oldest Known Musical Instrument

It was recently discovered that an ancient Neanderthal campsite housed an ancient bone (43,000-82,000 years old) which appears to be a flute. The bone, which is a femur of a cave bear, has four holes: Two complete holes and two partial holes, one at each end of the bone.

One of the significant things about the flute is that the instrument s four notes match four notes of the Do, Re, Mi scale. It is the location of the holes that indicate that the bone is a flute. The distance between the second and third hole is around twice as much as the distance between the third and fourth hole. This means we are looking at a whole-tone and a half-tone somewhere within a scale. Such a combination whole-tone and half-tone is the heart and soul of what makes up 7-note diatonic scales (Bob Fink).

Many experiments were done in an attempt to understand if the bone is truly a flute or if it is simply a coincidence that the notes playable on the ancient bone match with those on a modern scale. It was finally concluded that the bone was in fact manmade for the purpose of playing music. It seems very amazing that such an ancient devise would coincide so well with our modern instruments. The existence of the instrument also clearly shows that even up to 80,000 years ago, humans were fascinated with music and also that at least some of them enjoyed playing music.


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