The Sounds of the Stone Age; Composer Simon Thorne Has Written a Musical for the Stone Age. He Tells KAREN PRICE about the Unusual Project
Byline: KAREN PRICE
SIMON THORNE is known for reinventing the musical wheel as a jazz composer but his latest project is taking things back to the Stone Age.
As part of a collaboration with the National Museum Wales, Thorne has written a musical for stone instruments that premieres in Cardiff tomorrow before embarking on a tour.
Cardiff composer Thorne was commissioned by National Museum to create a "soundscape" for the Paleolithic section of its exhibition, Origins of Early Wales.
His piece, Neanderthal, provides a musical backdrop as visitors journey through our ancestral past, looking at arte facts 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 although Thorne is the first to admit that knowing exactly what Neanderthal 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, it would be inconceivable that they couldn't make music that was sophisticated."
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, which gave Thorne extra food for thought.
"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," says the composer.
"Every culture has language and music, so we can probably assume that they had some kind of music too."
Thorne researched extensively before beginning to compose. Two books - Professor Steven Mithen's The Singing Neanderthals and David Lewis Williams' The Mind In The Cave - provided much inspiration and historical context. …