Ancient Spring Rituals Involving Music and Rhythm

Yes, the ancient Spring rituals probably included chanting, drumming, dancing/movement.  Many anthropologists and ethnomusicologists believe that early humans’ attempts at what we now call music, came from their attempts to imitate the sounds of nature.   The wind through the pines and the palms, the waves lapping the shore, the babbling brooks, and the gentle rain.  Then there are the beautiful bird songs, the crickets chirping, and all of the cicadas.

117Recently, I’ve been marvelling once again about the glorious beauty of Spring, and how a few little bulbs can keep coming up year after year after year!  The flowers and trees in Louisville, KY have truly outdone themselves this year and everytime I step outside my home, my breath is taken away by the beauty of the white Bradford pear trees, the golden forsythia, and the gorgeous tulips and daffodils.  I’m assuming that these plants have been popping up for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, but did you know that music, singing, dancing, and rhythm have also been an integral part of Spring festivities?

For thousands of years, people have celebrated the return of Spring.  After hard and cruel winters, in ancient times, many people could not and did not survive.  With the first green leaf, and the first sighting of a robin, it’s not hard to imagine that people were quite ecstatic.  How did they celebrate?  We know from drawings on cave walls that ancient people played drums, flutes, sang and danced!  We can imagine that this was done both individually as well as in small groups and large groups…just like now!   One of the most famous pieces of Western classical music in the 20th century is Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”  The story goes that people were so enraged at the dissonance in the composition that they literally rioted in the concert hall that night!  Of course “The Rite of Spring” is now a staple in the modern concert repertoire.

One of the most ancient symbols of Spring is the egg, probably one of the reasons that the Easter bunny brings beautiful, decorated eggs!  Legend has it that on the day of the Spring equinox, somewhere between March 19-21, is the only day of the year that an egg can stand up on its end!  That is definitely not true.

Again, legend has it that the phoenix earned its famous immortality by refusing to eat from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. Every 500 years, the bird is said to create a nest of herbs and spices, rest on it, and set itself on fire. After the fire dies down, an egg laid by the phoenix is found among the ashes. The egg hatches, and the phoenix emerges, resurrected.  However you choose to celebrate Spring, be sure to enjoy some music as an integral part of it! Spring Legends

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