Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love in the New Millennium 12: The Song of Songs

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN LOVE SONG (19 November 2012). Video Source: Youtube.

For Valentine's Day, hear Canadian musician Peter Pringle perform an Ancient Egyptian love song. Pringle specializes in building and playing recreations of historical instruments. He sings in old languages and tries to reimagine the music of our ancestors as closely as possible. He explains how he constructed this Ancient Egyptian harp, here. My earlier post on Pringle is here.

Image Source: Egyptian Guide.

Pringle apologized for any inaccuracies here to his Youtube audience, who were nonetheless appreciative:
"Hi Guys, what you have to realize is that I am not an egyptologist, or an archaeomusicologist. I am an entertainer. That's all. I make no claim to historical or linguistic authenticity on any level. I had a lot of fun building the Egyptian naviform harp and once it was finished I was curious to hear what might have sounded like accompanying a singer in ancient time, so I improvised and recorded a song for which I found a transliteration on the internet (digitalegypt.ucl.ac.uk). There was no key to pronunciation, so I just did the best I could. Sorry."
Image Source: Youtube.

This is the description of the song and instrument:

Here is something that should really set the world on fire! It is a 3000-year-old song, sung in a dead language that no one speaks or understands, accompanied on an instrument called the "djedjet" that hasn't existed in several millennia!

The words for this song are from an ancient Egyptian papyrus scroll, written in a formalized version of the language of the New Kingdom (roughly 1500 B.C.). This was the era of some of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, including Tutankhamun, Queen Hatshepsut and the notorious "heretic king" Akenaten and his wife Queen Nefertiti.

The song itself is written in several parts as a dialog between a young man and the girl he loves. This is the first part of it sung by the young man. Although he refers to the girl as "sister", she is not his actual sister. It was common for people in those days, as it is in some places today, to refer to one another as "brother" and "sister" when they belonged to the same community.

The language of ancient Egypt died out long ago, and no one is certain exactly how it was pronounced because only consonants were written - no vowels. The song itself is surprisingly explicit and erotic. After I made the video, I decided I had better add subtitles with a translation because without that nothing made any sense.

The instrument I am using to accompany myself is a reproduction of a 22 string Egyptian New Kingdom arched ('C' - shaped) harp called a "djedjet". It is made entirely of cedar and animal skin, without nails or screws of any kind. It has a rich, deep tone and I placed a microphone at the bottom of the instrument to pick up the sound. There is nothing except harp and voice in this recording.

Ancient Egyptians wrote out many of the words to their songs but they did not write down the music, so we have no idea what their songs or instrumental music sounded like. I have tuned the harp in this video to what is called a "double harmonic major scale". This does not correspond to any of the "modes" of western musical theory. Did ancient Egyptians use this scale? No one knows, but it is possible. I believe that the ancient harpists tuned their instruments to suit the piece of music they were playing.

Many biblical scholars have suggested that this song was the inspiration for the SONG OF SONGS, or "Song Of Solomon" from the Old Testament of the Bible because the parallels between them are striking. The Song Of Solomon would have been written down long after the period of the Egyptian New Kingdom."

Egyptian Harp, New Kingdom, Mid 2nd millennium BCE. From the Tomb of Ani in Thebes. Image Source: tumblr.

Image Source.
The Song of Solomon, also known as the Song of Songs, or the Canticle of Canticles, is an erotic book of the Bible which celebrates love in the physical world. You can read it here and here, but obviously it was meant less for reading, and more for a kind of elaborate musical foreplay or an interlude, dedicated to soul love and passion.

Image Source: Stoned Campbell Disciple.

Image Source: He Reads Truth.

See all my posts on Love in the New Millennium.

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