Metropolitan Instrument Essay, Research Paper
The musical instruments collection of the metropolitan museum holds approximately five thousand examples from six continents and the pacific islands dating from about 300B.C. to the present. In this exhibit we can find all categories of instrument present in our history. Indeed, classified by continents and different region of the world, the categories of instrument presented are: wind instruments (brass, wood), string instruments, percussions, and other typical ancient instruments. We can make a point on the fact that even 2000 years later these categories of instruments still being used by contemporaneous musical players. One of the most ancient categories could be the wind section with an typical aborigene’s instrument called the didgeridoo . Found on the Australian continent B.C., this wind instrument was made with an empty branch of eucalyptus. This instrument still being used nowadays.
Music has played an important role in the human civilization, indeed music was present in all ancient societies (B.C. and A.C.) , then in all parts of the world. The most ancient instruments were found on the following continents; Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America.
On the Australian continent, the didgeridoo (mentioned before) was played B.C by local aborigenes in ritual and ceremonial purposes. This woodwind instrument is the oldest one of the Australian continent.
In Asia, the diversity of ancient instruments found is more important than in Australia. All sections are represented. Percussions section is represented by a lots cymbals, and tambours such as the khol , used to accompany kirtan the sacred Vaisana devotional music of Bengal and East India. In ancient South and Central Asia civilizations there was also a lot of wind instruments, the Dung chen , a wood and brass long trumpet (early 17 century) was one of the major religious instruments. Made first in China this instrument was also sent as a gift to impress officials of bordering nations. The rag dung is also a long trumpet found in Tibet in the 17 century; it was used for morning and evening calls from the monastery roof. The string instrument section is also well represented with instruments such as the vina and the sitar (traditional eggshells bodies) found in India. Many Indian instruments were made as musical and decorative objects used for display, given as gifts or played by children (Tambura, Little Persian Sitar ).
On the African continent, ivory (elephant tusks) and wood were the raw material of all the major instruments. The wind instrument is also represented on this part of the world. Elephant tusks were used to make different kind of trumpet and horn. Horn and trumpet were mainly used for hunting purpose. The percussion section was really important in African societies. Made in different kind of wood (lengu and dougoura) we can find the doun-doun used in ceremonies to create the main tempo for the djemb players. The percussion were also used to establish the dialogue between tribes. The string section is represented by different kind of guitars and harps. The most common guitar found on this continent is the kora (calabash resonator) used in dance ceremonial.
I voluntarily decide to focus on those tree continents to understand the importance and role of music in these ancient societies because of the originality of instruments found and the sounds created. In those tree continents we can find some common purpose from the music played. Indeed, music was in majority used for religious and ceremonial purposes. In the Buddhism religion music was really present through bells, trumpet and cymbals. In china (Confucianism from Confucius), the Datonjiao (Chinese trumpet) was used for wedding procession or funerals. The religious aspect is also present in India with the representation of the god Shiva in musical instruments. In Africa, music was also used for ceremonies, magical rituals and sacrifices to the local God .
In addition to the religious aspect of the music, we can easily find some social purposes in the ancient civilizations of those tree continents. African percussions were used to communicate between tribes. Music was identified as a way to establish contact between ethnies. In the middle empire (17 century) instruments was sent as gifts to keep contact with others nations and civilization or on the contrary used by soldiers to signal the end of a fire (kind of political aspect of the music) . In Africa, big tambours were also used impress enemies during ethnic wars.
The musical aspect of the music was mainly found in Europe with the early creation of musical representation ; first through plays and little bit later through private concerts and operas. The musical instruments were mainly the violin, piccolo, flute, piano, tambourine
All those different aspects of the music show the importance and the diversity of its role during ancient civilizations.