Box Office: An Insight into What Rocked the Earliest of the Cave Dwellers; Arts & Entertainment How Did Music Sound in the Stone Age? That's the Question Which Composer Simon Thorne Has Been Pondering as He Worked on a New Musical Project. Karen Price Finds out More about It

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 7, 2009 | Go to article overview

Box Office: An Insight into What Rocked the Earliest of the Cave Dwellers; Arts & Entertainment How Did Music Sound in the Stone Age? That's the Question Which Composer Simon Thorne Has Been Pondering as He Worked on a New Musical Project. Karen Price Finds out More about It


Byline: Karen Price

HE may be a leading composer of modern jazz but Simon Thorne is currently more concerned about the types of sounds that Neanderthal man made.

He's now penned a new musical, which features stone instruments, and it will be premiered in Wales tomorrow before touring.

Thorne was commissioned by National Museum Wales to create a "sounds cape" for the Palaeolithic section of its exhibition, Origins of Early Wales.

His piece, Neanderthal, provides a musical backdrop as visitors journey through our ancestral past, looking at artefacts and remains that have been excavated across Wales after being buried for many thousands of years.

But the music has proved so popular that Thorne is now touring with the performance.

The 75-minute piece will be performed live by four musicians, singing and using stone instruments, and accompanied by a video evoking life for Neanderthal man.

It will be previewed at the National Museum Cardiff tomorrow before the world premiere of the full piece is staged in Harlech and then toured to Cardigan, Milford Haven and Swansea.

Neanderthal man existed side by side with early Homo sapiens before becoming extinct some 130,000 years ago. Despite having a reputation for lacking intelligence, recent research suggests the Neanderthals were a lot more resourceful and innovative than we first thought.

As Thorne says: "Given that Neanderthal man's brain was about the same size as ours, and much of our brain is given over to language, then you can assume they probably had language too.

Every culture has language and music, so we can probably assume that they had some kind of music too."

The Cardiff composer is the first to admit that knowing exactly what such music would have sounded like is impossible.

"It's a ridiculous notion to suggest we could ever know the precise role that music played in the lives of the Neanderthals, but imagining it has been a fascinating experience," he says.

"When you look at the cave paintings you have to think that if they can make these kinds of marks, then it would be inconceivable that they couldn't make music that was sophisticated."

Thorne researched the era extensively before beginning to compose. …

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Box Office: An Insight into What Rocked the Earliest of the Cave Dwellers; Arts & Entertainment How Did Music Sound in the Stone Age? That's the Question Which Composer Simon Thorne Has Been Pondering as He Worked on a New Musical Project. Karen Price Finds out More about It
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