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Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva

GUEST,An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 29 Apr 15 - 11:35 AM
Roger the Skiffler 29 Apr 15 - 11:42 AM
Jack Campin 29 Apr 15 - 12:19 PM
GUEST 29 Apr 15 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 30 Apr 15 - 04:40 AM
Jack Campin 30 Apr 15 - 08:33 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 30 Apr 15 - 09:13 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 02 May 15 - 06:56 AM
Jack Campin 02 May 15 - 07:13 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 02 May 15 - 06:29 PM
Jack Campin 02 May 15 - 07:37 PM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 05 May 15 - 09:10 AM
Tradsinger 05 May 15 - 01:56 PM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 06 May 15 - 11:14 AM
Jack Campin 06 May 15 - 11:37 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 06 May 15 - 01:30 PM
Mrrzy 07 May 15 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 07 May 15 - 09:09 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 13 May 15 - 07:15 PM
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Subject: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: GUEST,An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 29 Apr 15 - 11:35 AM

I hope I'm not abusing the hospitality of the Mudcat Café with this message, but am casting about looking for someone knowledgeable about whistle-type instruments and archaeology, and know that several Catters fit either or both of those criteria.

I have opened a new thread here:

http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=100334

on a bone whistle found on the southern shore of Lake Geneva, and would appreciate contributions to the discussion from anyone who can contribute even the flimsiest piece of knowledge or suggestions.

To keep all the discussion in one place, I would be grateful if you could make any comments on the above thread rather than here. Indeed, if a moderator wishes to lock this thread making it read-only, I won't be at all offended.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 29 Apr 15 - 11:42 AM

Leadfingers may have dropped it (sorry, Terry!)

RtS


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Apr 15 - 12:19 PM

Do you still have the grot you cleaned out of it? Can you locate it exactly in the place you found it, so someone could date the soil stratum it was embedded in? The location is much like where the "Dordrecht" recorder was found, and that was only dated by the building rubble that covered it.

(Sorry, I am NEVER going back to Chiff and Fipple, after one of their moderators rewrote one of my messages into mealy-mouthed idiocy and posted it under my name).

The scale you got out of it isn't one of the standard pentatonic ones - it's a gapped pentachord with an overblown tonic. Common in Southern European folk music for at least the last 2000 years, so not a lot of help in dating it.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Apr 15 - 01:02 PM

Thanks, Jack.

I don't have any stratigraphic info on it. The owner showed it to me in a box of bits and pieces that had been excavated, none of any great evident interest.

I'll ask him when I see him again in a few weeks' time. I suspect the excavating was well-intentioned exploration rather than "treasure-hunting", but still pretty amateurish, and that carbon dating - if he can persuade someone to do this - is the most promising route for dating it.

I'm hoping that any circumstantial musical evidence I can gather through the internet discussion might strengthen his case to get this done by Geneva museum.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 30 Apr 15 - 04:40 AM

This quote is from Randall White's "Prehistoric Art – the symbolic journey of humankind" (New York, Harry H. Abrams, 2003, p. 93):

"Gravettian sites in Europe have provided large numbers of multiholed wind instruments, shown by experimentation to have served as flutes. Their sound qualities are quite haunting, and they show an equidistant scale. At one site alone, the cave of Isturitz in France, more than a dozen of these, often decorated with simple incisions, were found. Of course, we shall never know what Gravettian music was like, but we certainly have irrefutable evidence of its existence."

The Gravettian period can be dated to some 22,000 to 28,000 years ago. But flutes have also been found in the preceding period, the Aurignacian, which flourished 28,000 to 40,000 years ago, and illustrations of both Aurignacian and Gravettian flutes can be found on pages 81 & 95 of White's book.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Apr 15 - 08:33 AM

True, but similar flutes have been made to the present day.

If this thing was embedded in the rubble of a mediaeval fortress, that suggests it can't be older than the Middle Ages.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 30 Apr 15 - 09:13 AM

At no times did I suggest that the pipe in question was ancient. I only pointed out that some pipes, dating back a long way in time, have been found. If anything, it only goes to show that, without good archaeological provinance, anything removed from the ground out of context can be all but "worthless" when it come to understanding our history.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 02 May 15 - 06:56 AM

Thanks, Mike.

I'll be seeing the owner in a couple of weeks and ask him if he remembers at what depth the whistle was found. His family have been excavating and rebuilding for 51 years, so I don't expect much to come of this.

My main hope is that someone with musical knowledge can

a) give him arguments to get it professionally carbon-dated; and

b) help me to get it into playable condition by non-invasive restoration.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 May 15 - 07:13 AM

If it's mediaeval bone, it may be too fragile to be playable no matter what (due to leaching by soil acids). Better to measure and x-ray it and make a replica.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 02 May 15 - 06:29 PM

Thanks, Jack.

It may not be that old. It feels quite sturdy.

I just don't know what's needed to make it playable: maybe a plug with the right size and shape of windway, or maybe it's that the window and particularly the blade are too damaged. Or it may be that it requires a particular blowing technique.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 May 15 - 07:37 PM

The top looks like a quena. Those take a while to get the hang of.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 05 May 15 - 09:10 AM

Superficially yes, butin a quena the blade is part of the upper aperture. This whistle has a separate blade in the window below the top-end opening.

I'll see if I can find a flute player to have a go at it.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: Tradsinger
Date: 05 May 15 - 01:56 PM

If it is an archeological artifact, you would be ill advised to let anyone except museum experts do anything to it. Please don't let a flute player "have a go at it". It needs to be examined and dated professionally.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 06 May 15 - 11:14 AM

Rest assured, Tradsinger. I was thinking purely in terms of a flute player applying his/her breathing technique to try to get music out of it.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 May 15 - 11:37 AM

Saliva contains carbon. It won't be easily carbon dateable after anyone's blown through it.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 06 May 15 - 01:30 PM

Significant progress recorded in today's posts on the Chiff and Fipple thread.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: Mrrzy
Date: 07 May 15 - 08:45 AM

Above the line? This is a fascinating discussion on something quite musical. I'm afraid of the other site... can someone post some of the critical stuff here?


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 07 May 15 - 09:09 AM

'I'm afraid of the other site'

Why would you?

Here is the thread in question. Your computer won't explode if you read it.


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Subject: RE: Bone whistle from near Lake Geneva
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 13 May 15 - 07:15 PM

Thank you, Peter.

I just checked in to this thread again one last time to see if there were any updates.

From now on, I'll let it sink into the delta sediment. If anyone has anything to contribute to the discusion, and for whatever reason doesn't want to post on the C&F thread, please send me a PM here to alert me.


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