, pub-5063766797865882, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Ancient Egyptian Dance and Musical Instruments ~ Ancient Egypt Facts

February 26, 2012

Ancient Egyptian Dance and Musical Instruments

Facts and Secrets about Ancient Egyptian Musical Instruments
Dance was also very popular in ancient Egypt, again in both religious and secular spheres. Rhythmic Accompaniment was provided by clapping, clapping, cymbals, tambourines or chanting. Again, dancing was mainly a group activity, Representations vary from slow, postured movement to lyrical, fluid or gymnastic performances.

Ancient Egyptian Dance
Ancient Egyptian Music in some form was an essential accompaniment to the dance , but it was also a recreational and religious art in its own right. Musical scenes are depicted from the Old Kingdom onwards. Although there were always musicians of both sexes, in the Old Kingdom most of those shown are women. One theme that recurs again and again is that of the blind harper, usually male. The Egyptians seem to have lacked a written, ancient Egyptian musical notation so a blind performer would have been at no disadvantage. To gain some idea of the music played it is necessary to study the instruments, many of which survive. They can be divided into three categories- stringed, wind and percussion-and their range increased during the New Kingdom when new varieties were adopted from the Near East.

Stringed instruments comprised the harp, the lyre and the lute. Two varieties of harp are known. The arched, or bow, harp was used from the sixth Dynasty onwards, but the angular harp appeared at the start of the New Kingdom, imported from Asia. The number of strings on these harps varies from four to ten and the size of the instruments is also variable. The strings were attached to the neck by pegs and to the sound box by a suspension rod, secured by a cord which could be adjusted to vary the tone. The harp was played by both mane and workmen. The lute and the lyre both appeared from the Near East during the New Kingdom. The lute consisted of a long wooden neck attached to a sound box, which was made either of wood or, in the case of small examples, a tortoise shell.
Ancient Egyptian flute
A skin was stretched over the box for sounding and the neck had frets onto which the strings were pressed to make the notes, They were played with a plectrum. The lyre had two forms, asymmetrical and symmetrical, and consisted of two arms attached to a sound box. The two arms were joined by a yoke to which the strings were attached by cords, pieces of cloth or papyrus. Both these instruments were played mostly by women, either in orchestras or solo to accompany singers.

Various wind instruments are known, with and without reeds. The flutes of ancient Egypt were played obliquely. They could be made of reed or metal and came in different sizes. Reeded instruments were the clarinet and the oboe, which were played in pairs, on acting as a drone. The oboe tended to replace the clarinet in the New Kingdom and was mostly plated by women. Trumpets were not used in orchestras, but only for military and religious purposes.

Of percussion instruments,those most commonly used in orchestras or for accompaniment wee the tambourine and drum. Clapperboards, bells and sisttra were mostly reserved o religious uses.

The British Museum's collection contains several scenes showing musical groups. The firs is of Old Kingdom dare and shows a male chamber group consisting of a harpist , a flautist and two singers. The New Kingdom scenes show a greater variety of instruments. One depicts a female ensemble at a banquet. The group consists of a large lute, a clapping singer, a smaller lute, a double oboe and a tambourine or drum, A similar banquet scene from a Theban tomb shows a double oboe and three women clapping out a rhythm to accompany two dancers, The final scene depicts a religious procession and indicates the pleasure to be had at a festival which would also have been a holiday. It represents a procession similar to one described by Herodotus, which took place at Bubastis - an occasion of a great joy and frenzy.

The worshipers went to Bubastis in barges, men and women packed in together: on the way some of the women kept up a continual clatter with castanets while some of the men played flutes. The rest sang and clapped their hands. Whenever they passed a town along the bank they brought the barge close inshore, making their ancient Egyptian music . The crowed in the barges yelled good-nature abuse at the women of the place, began to dance about or hitched up their robes to reveal their behinds, On reaching Bubastis they celebrated the festivals with elaborate sacrifices and drank vast quantities of wine.

Ancient Egyptian Sistrum
As already of the main sources if employment for musicians was performing a banquets. Dinner parties seem to have been on of the favorite pastimes of the Ancient Egyptians middle and upper classes, judging by the frequency with which they are depicted in tomb scenes. At the beginning of a feast the guests would be greeted by their hosts and offered flowered garlands by servants. They were also given scented cones for their hair, as described in the previous chapter. Gusts did not sit round a large dining table as we today but small tables at which they were served with food and wine. The hosts and honored gusts sat in chairs, while others sat on stools or cushions. In some scenes the men and women sit separately, while in others they mingle freely. This nay represents the difference between married couples and single gusts. The food and wine was heaped enticingly on stands and tables , almost like a buffet, although servants brought the food to the gusts.

During the meal musicians played and afterwards dancers, or possibly an acrobat, would perform, As the banquet continued, more and more wine was consumed, accompanied by such sentiments as 'Give me eighteen cups of wine, for I should love to drink to drunkenness my inside is as dry as straw'. The end result of such indulgence is also recorded, men and even women being sick into a bowl held by servants and being comforted by their neighbors as the jollity continues.

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