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Flutopedia Symposium

Hurrian Hymn - The Oldest Written Song - For Native American Flute

French archeologists excavated a clay tablet in the early 1950's which is believe to be "sheet music" for this Hurrian Hymn. It is currently the oldest known written music.

The tablet was excavated from the site of the ancient city Ugarit, the current Ras Shamra, a few miles North of Latakia in Syria. It is dated to about 1400 BC and is written with cuneiform signs in the Hurrian language. It records a hymn to the goddess Nikkal, wife of the moon god. The tablet is broken and water-damaged, and at least four groups of scolars have attempted to interpret the music.

This version is based on the interpretation of Dr. Richard Dumbrill. While Dumbrill's interpretation is highly conjectural, it is widely believed that the notation of the music refers to diatonic intervals and a scale within a particular mode.

Another interpretation was made by Dr. Anne Kilmer. See http://www.webster.sk.ca/greenwich/evidence.htm.

I arranged this version for Native American flute and drum (two drums of different tones). Thanks to John Sarantos and Anne Kimble Howard for reviewing these arrangements.

There are 4 versions available as separate PDF files: Both Nakai 6-hole TAB notation1 and classical notation for a flute whose root note is E. Also, different arrangements are available for a flute with "limited range" and a flute with "extended range". The extended range version is more faithful to the original Dumbrill interpretation, but requires notes well up into the second register. The melody in the limited range version has been altered to fit mostly within the lower Native American flute register, with an attempt to preserve the spirit of the piece.

Sheet Music

- Clint Goss, July 16, 2002.

1Nakai TAB notation use by permission of R. Carlos Nakai.

 
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