Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The First Flute

The NY Times reports on the oldest known musical instrument, a flute estimated to be 35,000 years old. Me, I bet that percussion instruments were in use earlier, because it's just so easy to bang two things together, but this is very neat indeed.


Paul H. Muller said...

"Friedrich Seeberger, a German specialist in ancient music, reproduced the ivory flute in wood. Experimenting with the replica, he found that the ancient flute produced a range of notes comparable in many ways to modern flutes. “The tones are quite harmonic,” he said."

Another victory for tonality...

Lisa Hirsch said...


Did you listen to the sound sample? They need a better flute or piccolo player!

Elaine Fine said...

I like the idea of the instrument being made from the bone of a mute swan.

There is also a lot of engineering required to make a little flute like this one. To most people a drum is a kind of a given for prehistoric people because it requires very little in the way of technology. A hollow log can be a drum, but a flute needs to have holes bored in the right places, and needs to have a stable way of producing sound.

Lisa Hirsch said...

True, and you have to wonder how the holes were bored, because that flute predates metal tools. Presumably with stone tools of some kind.