What are the oldest musical instruments?
Music has been part of human life since time immemorial. Originally it accompanied rites and religious acts, then it evolved to become a method of entertainment for the people gathered in the squares and, later, in the courts.
Sometimes the only testimony that remains of civilizations that have now disappeared are the verses that narrate the deeds of heroes, great loves, and wars. Memories entrusted to the minstrels, who sang the events always accompanied by their faithful instrument.
Songs and ballads are often present in school books, but the knowledge of the musical instruments of the past is still preserved today only in the knowledge of true enthusiasts. These musical instruments have high economic and cultural value. Having them in your collection would be truly lucky!
Musical instruments in ancient Europe
The first news that reaches us about the use of musical instruments dates back to the times of the Sumerians. In truth, Palaeolithic men already used to transform their feelings into music, using rather rudimentary objects but capable of emitting sounds.
With the Sumerians, the first flutes and harps spread, also widely used by the Greeks. A people with a long folk music tradition, full of original and unique sounds. And two particular instruments come from the ancient Hellenic population, such as the Pan Flute and the Baglamas.
The pan flute
The pan flute is the best-known musical instrument in ancient Greece. It appears in many myths that have as protagonist the god Pan, a satyr half goat and half man, who used the bamboo flute to cheat and flatter travelers. The pan flute occupies an important position in both Germanic and Swiss and Romanian music.
The Baglamas is part of the chordophone family. It is a smaller variant of the more famous bouzouki, an instrument similar to the local mandolin. The Baglamas is also played by plucking the three strings with a plectrum and what comes out is a metallic sound, widely used for accompaniments in the rebetic, popular Greek musical genre.
Even in Northern Europe, music has always played a fundamental role. And the construction of tools is an activity in which master craftsmen ventured. The first sound associated with the Northern regions is that of the Scottish bagpipe. But many centuries earlier there was another most popular instrument of these regions – the Celtic harp.
The Celtic harp
The Celtic harp is a stringed folk instrument that spread in the eighth century in Scotland, and later throughout Great Britain. It has some differences with the classical harp:
- is smaller;
- it has no pedals but keys;
- The strings are played with the fingertips.
- A curiosity: the Celtic harp is also the logo of the famous Irish beer Guinness!
Guan, the symbolic instrument of ancient China
The Orient also boasts a long musical tradition. Among the most sought-after ancient instruments, there is the Guan. It is a particular double-reed wind instrument, with a long cylindrical shape. It is made of bamboo wood, a typical material of the region it comes from.
Its sound recalls that of a hum, much appreciated in Chinese courts and the salons of the late nineteenth century. The Guan is very complex to play and requires a very refined technique, so much so that a Chinese saying states that it takes at least 1,000 days to learn how to play it.
For this reason, few musicians try their hand at the practice. Not only is it difficult to play, but it is also very rare to find it for sale on the market, as are many Chinese antiques.