Music in Ancient Israel/Palestine: Archaeological, Written, and Comparative Sources

Music in Ancient Israel/Palestine: Archaeological, Written, and Comparative Sources

Music in Ancient Israel/Palestine: Archaeological, Written, and Comparative Sources

Music in Ancient Israel/Palestine: Archaeological, Written, and Comparative Sources

Synopsis

"This book contains the first study of the musical culture of ancient Israel/Palestine based primarily on the archaeological record. Noted musicologist Joachim Braun explores the music of the Holy Land region of the Middle East, tracing its form and development from its beginning in the Stone Age to the fourth century A.D." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Neither sound nor musical notation remains of the music of ancient Israel/Palestine. Apart from the sparse written records, the only information we have is that provided by the stone, bone, or metal unearthed by archaeologists.

Yet even musical periods documented much more richly than those of the ancient world can leave us in uncertainty. How were Beethoven’s works actually performed? How were the harmony and melody of Corelli’s basso continuo realized? What was the correct interpretation of neumatic symbols? What about the Jewish taʿamei hamikra? With even less information at our disposal, what can we possibly say about the music of the ancient world? This music, the music of ancient Israel/Palestine, is still passed on orally and from father to son. Beginning in this small strip on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, it has over the course of two-and-a-half millennia spread over the entire globe and assimilated literally hundreds of musical styles.

The present study attempts to assemble a portrait of this past musical world from many small tesserae. Because the music itself has probably disappeared forever, the goal obviously cannot be total restoration; we can, however, gain insight into the character of that music, into its “setting in life” and symbolism. Even at best, though, such a mosaic can offer no more than a fragmented, vague imitation of this past world of sound. Given the nature of our sources, we must simply accept that parts of the mosaic will have faded with time; others will have been destroyed entirely. Similarly . . .

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