EA, the Creator

A Mode

The piece "Ea the Creator" was inspired by some beautiful Sufi melodies of musicians who played at a large dance party held in Marin County, California by Saladen Takesh. The slow pace of this expressive music, after an hour of very rhythmic party dancing, is refreshing, and draws one into a mood of relaxation and contemplation. Tired dancers sat down to rest, and a few who had not been dancing rose slowly to their feet as a new feeling came over the room. An older woman stood up and began turning, turning, very slowly, in a clockwise direction. Another man gestured upward with his arm and stepped carefully in a small circle to this hypnotic music.

It was a happy feeling, as gradually others joined them in turning, turning to the beautiful sinuous sounds of the ney (nay) and we felt bound together in a different way, east and westerner, Sufi and non Sufi. All the long costumes and skirts began to spin slowly outward and filled the dance floor, and the room, with a new symmetry. It was a very pleasant experience

"Ea, the Creator" starts with a slow improvisational melody, and becomes more rhythmic, making a departure from the original free improvisation in several ways. Without changing the diatonic A mode scale, this arrangement becomes a vehicle for showing how our own western music still fits quite comfortably within the ancient diatonic modes. It is the eastern traditions with their subtle microtonal variations that in fact have varied more greatly from the ancient tuning texts, than the tonal music of western Europe, from what we can tell using the present evidence.
Even it there are some subtle jazz harmonies suggested, this modern treatment later in the piece does not go outside the realm of ancient tunings because at no time does the piece use more than the original seven tones of the A modal tuning (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and A). Even the familir cycle of fifths used in the bass line is a very diatonic device in western music popular beginning with the Baroque period.
There are those who are disturbed by hearing a style that is too modern in this context. We try to emphasize that the style does not come from 4000 years ago, only the "A" mode tuning which gave rise to this melody. Please forgive the musicians who sometimes get too playful with a tune they especially like. They at least put it back when they are through...


Click for another, slightly larger image

Ea, (Sumerian) or Enki (Akkadian) was the patron god of Eridu before he joined the ranks of Enlil, (Sumerian) or Elil, Akkadian) Inanna (Sumerian) or Ishtar, (Akkadian) and An (Sumerian) or Anu,(Akkadian) as the four main gods of Mesopotamia. Ea's Akkadian name, Enki, means Lord of the Ki, which means he was in charge of everything from the earth's surface on downwards, his portion of the world's order. He controlled the soil and the sweet waters or abzu beneath the earth from which life sprang, in the eyes of the inhabitants of the southern marshlands from where he arose in Eridu.

Some have suggested there was a connection between Ea and the very ancient merman/fish god Oannes, shown at left. See this interesting site: www.geocities.com/dominorus/oannes.html


The Sumerian equivalent of 11:57pm July 3rd
14000BCE sky chart and the Narmer Plate combined here on a. royal cylinder-seal depicting
"The Sun is Risen", complete with Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
It is dated to 2308 BCE and celebrates the Dawn of the Age of Aries.
This same cylander seal shows Ea at the other end (click thumbnail)

Sometimes shown as a river god and god of freshwater fishermen, which his epithet, "owner of the net" implies, Enki/Ea's images often show him holding a vase from which flow four rivulets of water. He is also associated with abundant harvests and growth. (This little image appears on the larger version of the cylander seal above).

The good earth he lavished with teeming vegetation.
He multiplied the herd of the high steppe,
placed them where they are supposed to be.
He multiplied the sheep and the wild rams in the pastures,
made them breed.

"Myths of Enki," Kramer and Meier

Ea's role in various myths is that of a wise ruler, who can intervene and save difficult situations using clever solutions without breaking any rules. In contrast to the occasionally destructive god Enlil, Enki seems to have been known for his genuine concern for the well-being of mankind, always benevolent and just. Among his many talents, he was also a good builder:

The great prince placed a string on the pickax,
guided the brickmold,
made it penetrate mother-earth as if it were precious oil

The one whose footers once laid down do not sag,
whose lasting house once built does not collapse,
whose vault reaches to mid-sky like a rainbow,
Musdamma, great builder of Enlil,
Enki placed in charge of them.

Source:"Myths of Enki, The Crafty God," by Samuel Noah Kramer and Meier, John.

Since the fourth string on the Sumerian lyre is called "fourth-small string (or) Ea Creator," and is the only string which has a name as well as a position number; the fourth string might have had some special musical significance. Why this particular string had such a distinguished name is one of the unanswered questions in the lyre texts.

1. fore string
2. next string
3. third thin string
4. fourth-small string (or)Ea creator string
5. fifth string
6. fourth-behind string
7. third behind string
8. second-behind string
9. behind string
10. (total) 9 string

the lexical text U,3011 col. 1(=Nabnitu Tablet 32)

It seemed appropriate to dedicate a song to this god, and have it begin with the interval 4,1, starting with the Ea Creator string.

1. Berber Wedding Song
2. The Music Class
3. Twilight on the Water
4. Hurrian Moonrise
5. Ninkasi’s Dance
6. Lament for Linus
7. Solitary Theme
8. Long Ago Lullaby
9. Fortune-Telling Song
10. Hurrian Moonset
11. Ea, the Creator
12. The Queen of Sheba
13. Hal Libba Marya


©Bella Roma Music 2002