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the oldest instrument still in use?

Jack Campin 10 Jun 11 - 07:00 PM
pdq 10 Jun 11 - 07:03 PM
northernmunkeh 10 Jun 11 - 07:16 PM
Jack Campin 10 Jun 11 - 07:22 PM
kendall 10 Jun 11 - 07:38 PM
Arkie 10 Jun 11 - 09:31 PM
J-boy 11 Jun 11 - 12:31 AM
J-boy 11 Jun 11 - 12:38 AM
Beer 11 Jun 11 - 12:41 AM
Naemanson 11 Jun 11 - 01:11 AM
Gibb Sahib 11 Jun 11 - 02:20 AM
Gurney 11 Jun 11 - 02:27 AM
Dave the Gnome 11 Jun 11 - 04:16 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jun 11 - 05:28 AM
Willie-O 11 Jun 11 - 11:51 AM
greg stephens 11 Jun 11 - 12:58 PM
Jack Campin 11 Jun 11 - 01:51 PM
Tattie Bogle 11 Jun 11 - 07:04 PM
Jack Campin 11 Jun 11 - 07:21 PM
Effsee 11 Jun 11 - 10:12 PM
Gurney 12 Jun 11 - 02:46 AM
Jack Campin 12 Jun 11 - 04:01 AM
Tootler 12 Jun 11 - 04:54 AM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Jun 11 - 02:34 PM
Stringsinger 12 Jun 11 - 02:46 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Jun 11 - 03:21 PM
The Sandman 12 Jun 11 - 04:47 PM
Tattie Bogle 12 Jun 11 - 05:25 PM
Jack Campin 12 Jun 11 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Jun 11 - 08:40 PM
MARINER 13 Jun 11 - 04:01 AM
Jack Campin 13 Jun 11 - 04:57 AM
GUEST,leeneia 13 Jun 11 - 05:04 AM
GUEST 13 Jun 11 - 05:13 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 Jun 11 - 05:14 AM
Jack Campin 13 Jun 11 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,jim 13 Jun 11 - 07:51 AM
GUEST 13 Jun 11 - 08:52 PM
GUEST,leeneia 13 Jun 11 - 09:22 PM
Jack Campin 13 Jun 11 - 09:26 PM
Little Hawk 13 Jun 11 - 10:31 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jun 11 - 07:08 PM
GUEST,DrWord 24 Jun 11 - 08:47 PM
saulgoldie 24 Jun 11 - 09:59 PM
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Subject: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 07:00 PM

Any advance on this Macedonian ocarina, 6000 years old and still played?

Website of "the only Neolithic flutist on the planet":

http://www.dragandautovski.com.mk/ (look in the Ocarina tab)


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: pdq
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 07:03 PM

"...the oldest instrument still in use?"

Willie Nelson's guitar?


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: northernmunkeh
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 07:16 PM

The voice?


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 07:22 PM

Whose voice has vocal chords 6000 years old? (Dylan's only sounds like it).

I don't mean the oldest type of instrument, I mean the oldest individual instrument.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: kendall
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 07:38 PM

Jacqui won't let me post here.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Arkie
Date: 10 Jun 11 - 09:31 PM

There are a few people here in the Ozarks, including myself, who play a mouth bow or picking bow. Elsewhere it has been called a musical bow. Supposedly there are paintings on the wall of a cave in southern France which date to about 15,000 BC that depict someone playing a mouth bow. I am curious about what might turn up here on the instrument.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: J-boy
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 12:31 AM

You are a dirty old man Kendall. And it's a position I aspire to.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: J-boy
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 12:38 AM

Hell I'll take most any position these days. Work I mean. I'm only talking about jobs. Really.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Beer
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 12:41 AM

I like your answer pdq.
I think you are dead on.
ad.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Naemanson
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 01:11 AM

"Tubingen University scientists in Germany have discovered 35,000 years old flutes which indicates that humans in Europe had established a complex and creative culture. The three flutes were found found in the Hohle Fels cavern in southwest Germany. The flutes were assembled from 12 pieces of griffon vulture bone."

Old Instruments


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 02:20 AM

Perhaps some bells in China?


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Gurney
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 02:27 AM

Or slit-drums in Polynesia?


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 04:16 AM

How about the earth itself? How many people have stamped out a beat on the ground with their feet?

DtG


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 05:28 AM

Similar to GtheG really - apart from the acoustics of various Pre-Historic Tombs (West Kennet) I've sang & played in with various primal harmonic flutes & animal horns.

I think the very oldest I've ever played were two lumps of rock on the beach near Marsden Grotto in South Shields which chimed a perfect minor-third with such perfect resonance it struck primal fear into my heart. Huge they were - and much too heavy to bring home or even cart up the cliff to the car park. Never found them again...

The oldest in my keeping are various stones with holes deep enough to play after the fashion of a syrinx. I like to think I wasn't the first to use them!


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Willie-O
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 11:51 AM

In terms of real, serious instruments, the Canadian classical bassist Joel Quarrington plays a double bass made in 1630.

It has a serious honk to it! Foghorns cower and submit when he plays in the Maritimes.

W-O


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: greg stephens
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 12:58 PM

Don't think it could be anything Polynesian, that area of the globe hasn't been ocupied till recently


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 01:51 PM

Slit gongs are made of wood, which doesn't last for thousands of years in playable condition. (The oldest wooden Polynesian object I know of is the statue of Uenuku, probably taken from central Polynesia to New Zealand around 1350 and maybe a few hundred years older than that). There are slt gongs that predate the Europeans but probably not by very long.

Bronze casting postdates the Macedonian ocarina so no bronze bell can be older.

Stones are a good call. Bob Pegg uses one in his routine, a pebble with a wormhole through it eroded by a smaller and very hard pebble under wave action. You can blow it like a shepherd's whistle. There must be stones like that that were formed before life evolved on dry land to blow them. But we can't tell which they are. And lithophones go back a long way:

http://www.lithophones.com/index.php?id=2

I once heard a broadcast of a performance by a Chinese lutenist using two moon lutes both more than a thousand years old. He had toured the world with them, but wouldn't risk taking them on a plane because of the risk of sudden pressure and temperature changes. They sounded wonderful and it was easy to understand why somebody looked after them for all that time.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 07:04 PM

Vocal CORDS, not chords, please!


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 07:21 PM

Google says:

vocal chord: about 1,100,000 hits
vocal cord: about 3,940,000 hits

OED gives cites for both spellings and says "chord" is the original.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Effsee
Date: 11 Jun 11 - 10:12 PM

I seem to remember from a TV programme a long time ago...could it have been "The Ascent of Man", a large round flat stone in Africa, which had several indentations around it's circumferance, which produced different tones when struck with another stone.
Anyone remeber that?


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Gurney
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 02:46 AM

As I read this thread, the instrument should be manufactured, and to have been in fairly continuous use. Not a found object, or something out of a tomb.
But it is Jack's thread, so his rules.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 04:01 AM

That African rock is pictured on the lithophone page I linked to. Looks like it must be getting smaller and higher pitched over the centuries as bits get chipped off it.

I can't find a reference now, but there was a collection of lithophonic schist plates found in south-west Scotland a while ago that seem to have been intended as a set (five notes, I think). Maybe 3000 or 4000 years old? They might still be playable but I don't think they have been played since being dug up.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Tootler
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 04:54 AM

[pedant alert]

Vocal CORDS, not chords, please!

[/pedant alert]

If you really want to be pedantic, why not insist on "Vocal Folds" which is the technically correct term.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 02:34 PM

Does it really matter which is the very oldest? I find it interesting to discuss which of several instruments are very old.

So I have two candidates.

In the recent documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" someone plays a replica of a flute found in the cave. The art in the cave is dated at 30,000 years.

(That's a fine movie, but the sound track is pretty bad, especially when played loud, as it was for me. In fact, I had to leave.)

My husband once told me of archaeologists who were excavating a cave used by hominids much earlier than homo sapiens. (Before Neanderthals, too.) There were curious hollows in the cave formations, and somebody discovered that if you picked up a bone and struck the hollows with it, that various musical tones were produced.

I believe that cave must be the earliest known musical thing. Too bad I don't know the name of the book.

A few years ago, a 12-year-old guide in a cave we were touring did the same thing. He called it rock music. He was definitely homo sapiens.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 02:46 PM

The mouth bow. Neanderthal man.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 03:21 PM

Knackers.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 04:47 PM

The pink oboe?


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 05:25 PM

Ok Tootler, agree your alternative, but don't agree with JC - your Google hits are down to the frequent mis-spelling of the word, no doubt.

From Gray's Anatomy, which I was forced to study from cover to cover:
Within the larynx (Fig. 1204) on either side are the ventricular and vocal folds (false and true vocal cords) with the ventricle between them.

Yes to the oldest instrument being the voice.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 06:58 PM

As the OED says, "chord" is the original form (because of the etymology).

I just grabbed the first serious book off my shelf that I figured would use the word, Helmholtz's "On the Sensations of Tone" (Dover edition). That has "chord".

Looking at a few random Google hits it looks like "vocal chord" is preferred in musical contexts and "vocal cord" in medical ones.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Jun 11 - 08:40 PM

Pottery drums go way back.

http://china.org.cn/english/culture/37778.htm


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: MARINER
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 04:01 AM

I believe Ronan Browne the piper plays a set made in the `1700s . Is that the oldest instrument actually still in use?.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 04:57 AM

Might be one of the oldest bagpipes, but there are hundreds of stringed instruments, bells, drums and organs that predate that, before we get into the really old stuff made of pottery and stone. I've played with a friend who has a cello from the 1670s.

You occasionally see pre-Columbian ocarinas on EBay. Some of them must be for real. I contemplated bidding on one that was supposed to be from 800AD once.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 05:04 AM

Aha! a new interpretation. Not just what's the oldest type of instruent, but the oldest example.

Your pipes made in the 1700's are impressive, but at least one instrument beats it, apparently. Wikipedia says:

"On October 14, 2010, a 1697 Stradivari violin known as 'The Molitor' was sold online by Tarisio Auctions for a world-record price of $3,600,000 to renowned concert violinist Anne Akiko Meyers."


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 05:13 AM

I believe Ronan Browne the piper plays a set made in the `1700s . Is that the oldest instrument actually still in use?

The Kenna set Ronan has is late 18th century and not the oldest set of pipes in use. One of the earliest Union pipes but not necessarily the oldest, or the only one by the same maker.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 05:14 AM

That was me by the way, sorry about that.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 06:01 AM

Aha! a new interpretation. Not just what's the oldest type of instrument, but the oldest example.

It's not a new interpretation, it's what I had in mind from the start of this thread.

Chinese bells and cymbals go back about 4000 years - are any bronze instruments from the Shang dynasty still played for real music?

The oldest instrument I've got is an English double whistle in walnut from about 1820, which doesn't quite work right - I'm progressively rebuilding the fipple out of layers of superglue.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST,jim
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 07:51 AM

The one-eyed picollo


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 08:52 PM

the bones?


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 09:22 PM

Now there's an interesting conjecture!


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 09:26 PM

According to the this site:

http://indonesia-web.blogspot.com/2009/12/kraton-gamelan.html

the gamelan Kanjeng Kyai Guntur Laut in the palace of Yogyakarta dates back to the Majapahit kingdom, i.e. probably before 1400. The West can't claim a metallophone ensemble quite as old and sophisticated but this gets close:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6167488/Oldest-church-bells-ring-again.html

I find this attributed to the Guinness Book of Records:

The oldest tower bell in Great Britain is one of 50kg (1cwt) at St Botolph, Hardham, Sussex, still in use and dated AD 1100. The oldest inscribed bell is the Gargate bell at Caversfield church, Oxfordshire and is dated c1200-1210. The oldest dated bell in England is one hanging in Lisset church near Bridlington, East Yorkshire bearing the date MCCLIIII (1254)


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 10:31 PM

the oldest instrument still in use: I would have said Willy Nelson's pecker....but according to a recent statement by Willy he has finally outlived it.


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jun 11 - 07:08 PM

Found a video of Dragan Dautowski with his 6000-year-old ocarina:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10BVZ16Ug60


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 24 Jun 11 - 08:47 PM

what Tatie said/

the maternal heartbeat [these are the roots of rhythm and the roots of rhythm remain] is the insistent core of aural experience.
i nominate the drum/
lithic, skin, or a stick on a log the drum is the oldest instrument still in use.

loved the birdbone flute!!!!! how cool is that?
i was, as a strings guy, thoroughly impressed with the state of preservation of the wooden stringed instruments in the Louvre Egyptian collection.

amusing thread.

rrpm on pickin'


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Subject: RE: the oldest instrument still in use?
From: saulgoldie
Date: 24 Jun 11 - 09:59 PM

I always thought it was the digeridoo:

http://didgeridooreview.com/didgeridoo/didgeridoo-quite-possibly-the-oldest-instrument-in-the-world/

But the qualification of the oldest functional one in existance. I don't know of any real old ones that are still used.

Saul


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