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By: Uri Gabbay We have a wealth of sources from ancient Mesopotamia: archeological, iconographical, and, most significantly, textual.Hundreds of thousands of cuneiform tablets in collections around the world shed light on the everyday life, economy, law, literature, and religion of ancient Mesopotamia.In addition, there is a wealth of representations on reliefs, inlays, and cylinder seals that depict musicians, alone or in an ensemble, playing various types of musical instruments, including stringed instruments such as lyres and harps, percussion instruments such as drums, cymbals, and rattles, and aerophones such as different types of flutes.Since musical instruments are objects that were manufactured, repaired, transferred, and of course played, they appear not only in texts related to music but in administrative texts, letters, and other genres.One musical instrument whose identity has been established with a reasonable degree of certainty is the Sumerian instrument.In addition to the inscription, there is also a large stone stele that graphically portrays the ceremony held for the same occasion.
The cross-cultural link between musical talent and blindness is well known.On this stele, reconstructed from fragments on the basis of similar steles, are depicted two musical instruments: a giant drum and a pair of cymbals.It is not unlikely that one of these instruments is to be identified with the instruments, weighing roughly seven kilograms in total, to a musician after they were repaired.Thus, we are dealing with a copper instrument that comes in pairs and weighs less than a kilogram.
The cymbals portrayed on the Gudea stele are, most likely, the The sound of music What did ancient Mesopotamian music sound like?
The scales that can be reconstructed parallel those known from the classical tradition, such as the Dorian, Phrygian, and Lydian scales.