A small lesson on ancient music healing methods in Sumeria

When did the culture of Sumeria thrive?  According to my sources, that would be 4th millennium B.C.

According to Wikipedia, instruments of Ancient Mesopotamia include harps, lyres, lutes, reed pipes, and drums. Many of these were shared with neighbouring cultures. Contemporary East African lyres and West African lutes preserve many features of Mesopotamian instruments (van der Merwe 1989, p. 10).

The vocal tone or timbre was probably similar to the pungently nasal sound of the narrow-bore reed pipes, and most likely shared the contemporary “typically” Asian vocal quality and techniques, including little dynamic changes and more graces, shakes, mordents, glides and microtonal inflections. Singers probably expressed intense and withdrawn emotion, as if listening to themselves, as shown by the practice of cupping a hand to the ear (as is still current in modern Assyrian music and many Arab and folk musics) (van der Merwe 1989, p. 11).

Two badly damaged silver pipes have been excavated from a grave at Ur and dated to c. 2500 BCE. The pipes were crafted with what appear to be finger holes, and it is believed that they formed a pair of tubes – “double-pipes” – that had reeds inserted. A number of reconstructions have been proposed, the most recent being a pair of thin tubes with three finger holes in one tube and four finger holes in the other.[1

So how were these instruments used for healing purposes?  Probably the Sumerians were well-aware of the connection between emotions and health as well as the ability of music to induce emotion of all kinds.

In ancient Rome, Minerva (Etruscan: Menrva) was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and defense. She was the virgin goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, and magic.

Music has always been a huge part of civilization and many ethnomusicologists believe that the first music was an attempt to imitate nature:  the waves lapping the shore, the wind through the trees, chirping crickets and birdsongs.  Music is one of the greatest gifts God has given us and can calm the savage breast (yes, that’s the correct phrase) as well as stir us to be brave and do great things.  It can bring sadness and tears or inspire great joy and happiness.  We are just beginning to understand how all of this happens.  In the meantime, just enjoy all the beautiful music our world provides!

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