Edited By Szymon Wrobel
Animals Hidden in Notes and Instruments
Music and animals have been in a close relationship in the history of music: starting from musical instruments made of birds’ bones, through animal voices illustrated in medieval songs and presented in later instrumental music up to chirping and trilling written by Olivier Messian in his birdlike pieces and animal sounds recorded and matched with ideas of the 21st century composers. The purpose of this article is to show the change of the context in which animals were introduced in music from the ancient to contemporary period.
music; animals; instruments; score; concerto; composer; history of music.
There is an unbreakable relationship between music and animals. We still have not identified the origins of music, yet the historical reflection on music traces back its origins to the imitation of birds’ songs.1 And though there are more theories concerning the origins of music, it is an unquestionable fact that the oldest preserved musical instruments, i.e. flutes2, were made of birds’ bones; in Ancient Greece the lyre was built of tortoise shell, and the strings of the oldest string instruments were made of lamb’s intestines. The strings, made of intestines or modern ones, are touched by a bow made of the horse’s hair. Animal motives also appeared as ornaments of musical instruments: in Ancient Egypt the sistrum was adorned with a stylized head of a cat, and the scroll surmounting the neck of the violin took the...
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