Our Earliest Instruments

Posted on January 26, 2017 in Musical Instruments

We take musical instruments for granted. We have never known a world without a drum, a horn or the sound of a mother humming to her baby. The human voice was the very first musical instrument, but was soon – in relative terms, followed by devices which more closely resemble the instruments of today.

Music is in everything if we stop and listen. For example, my cousin owns a 24 hour tow truck St Catharines ON and he has told me all about the different sounds the towing fleet makes when the various sized trucks are rumbling down the highway to help their next client. Another example that comes to mind, is of an old friend who owned a printing shop. As an amateur musician, he often found himself composing songs with a back rhythm of the churning beat of the printing press. The melodic beat set a tempo that developed into more than one of his musical compositions. Testimonies that music can be found anywhere.

Our ancestors had excellent hearing. Their very survival depended on their honed senses and hearing was an important asset to staying alive. They learned the sounds of nature – animals, weather, the grasses and trees, fellow tribesmen and their enemies. They used all their senses to live as well as in celebration through ceremony.

From as far back as 165,000 years, archeologists have discovered percussion instruments. Those odd shaped, hide covered pieces of rock and hollowed wood are believed to be used for making sound. No other function can be logically assigned. Pounding with sticks or other rocks gave a thud that as time passed became more and more refined.

Pipe instruments were next to show up as more creative development seeped into the minds of our earliest musicians. Flutes more precisely. Small carved bone and antlers with holes to emit air have been discovered in Slovenia that have been carbon dated to over 65,000 years ago. Other flutes found in Germany were carved out of Mammoth tusks. They are believed to have been played over 43,000 years ago.

So, the beginning of our musical journey started with beating drums and playing flutes. It’s not hard to conjure up an image of a group of primitive, animal-skin clad humans dancing and rebel rousing around a fire to the guttural beginnings of these first boy bands.

Once a year I invite friends over to our little ranch to dance around a bonfire. Several drums, guitars, a washboard or two, tambourines, fiddles, sometimes a ukulele, and always a banjo commune with lots of voices to make a night to remember – and repeat. It’s a happening that has its roots in the hearts and souls of humankind from way back when music could not stop itself from being played.

Music is irrepressible. It’s in all of us whether we choose to listen or not. It surrounds us in the sounds of nature to the sounds of the furnace turning on in the winter. It plays different notes to different ears, but there is always something for everyone.

The instruments we use don’t have to be sophisticated or expensive – it’s more the player that makes the sound. However, when there is an exceptional piece of equipment and an exceptional performer it is nothing short of ecstasy when the two combine to produce the melodies of the ages.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and tell me what you know about our earliest instruments.

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