There are a limited number of texts about music in the ancient near east from the first and second millennia B. C. As discussed in "Sounds from Silence," two texts are about tuning the lyre. One names the strings of the lyre. One gives a list of love songs in a certain tuning or mode. A fifth text served as the basis for Prof. Anne Kilmer's 1975 composition, "A Hurrian Cult Song from Ancient Ugarit, (ca. 1400 B.C.)" performed on the "Sounds from Silence" recording.

In 1996 some pieces of music were composed by Smith for the purpose of demonstrating all the diatonic tunings for the Kilmer lectures.Two were adapted and arranged from traditional sources, The Berber Wedding song, and Hal Libba Marya, an Assyrian Hymn. We have no other performance pieces from the second millennium B.C. besides the Hurrian Hymn.

This fact is often not satisfying for an interested public eager to connect with the ancient past in the near east in as many ways as possible.

Therefore, we have tried to provide at least some mention of sources of inspiration for the melodies on "Seven Modes for an Ancient Lyre," and to give some solid information about subjects that are related to ancient near eastern history and culture. In some cases we also describe scenarios and a few musical considerations that Smith had in mind when putting together these compositions.

The information provided includes stories about the Sumerian gods and myths, some early writing materials and alphabets, some battles of an Assyrian King, discussions relating to our understanding of lyre notation, an example of early western music notation, some bible stories, divination practices, and some ancient musical traditions that still exist today.

Images for this site were collected from various sources. Many of the thumbnail pictures can be clicked on for larger views. Several of the images are borrowed with permission from other web sites, whose URL's are given for viewers who wish to learn more about the subjects touched on here.

We sincerely hope that site visitors will enjoy reading about these subjects, particularly in conjunction with the information and music on "Sounds from Silence," and the CD "Seven Modes for an Ancient Lyre." Comments and suggestions are appreciated, and corrections with valid sources are welcome.

JCS 09/29/03

Janet Smith may be contacted at jcsmith8@pacbell.net or at the address on the store page.

©Bella Roma Music 2002