Mar 22, 2011

Music: Our oldest flutes and a little about banjo music

I have mentioned in the previous post how fashioning materials out of wood must have come before stone and provided some examples. The same could be true for bone. In fact, our oldest archeological finds include a 40,000 year old flute!

A vulture-bone flute discovered in a European cave is likely the world's oldest recognizable musical instrument and pushes back humanity's musical roots
If flutes were being made out of bone 40,000 years ago then certainly the wooden flutes must have arrived on the music scene sooner. After all, wooden flutes have been in continuous use throughout recorded history in several cultures and societies. Consider the common reeds that grow in many riverbeds. They can easily be fashioned into a flute and could not possibly last in our archeological record except by some lucky chance.

Water Reed Native American Flute

I also mentioned in my last post how it could be possible for a person to make a guitar like object with easily perishable items like a wooden box and animal hair. Take the example of a banjo, as Steve Martin explains:

Although any guitar or banjo like object of the deep past would have varied in form and uses from region to region and culture and culture (if indeed any such instrument existed at all) the music itself would vary in style and sound. However, it is possible to imagine that maybe in the deep past little banjo and/or flute groups could have existed. Anyways, the following example is of a group using a string based musical instrument:

What if this hypothetical musical group of the past had singers for ritualistic or just plain social reasons?

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