Death and time consumes all the earthly facets of ourselves. Our bodies are destined for ash or soil, and all the intricacies of our lives destined to be forgotten. So what really carries down our memories? What will continue to thrive once all traces of us are embedded into the dirt? What will be left to endure?
Needless to say, record-keeping, literature, imagery and language all play an important role in teaching future generations about the lives of their forefathers and foremothers. These things can draw out a diagram of facts with which to build a structured hypothesis about how things once were, how some once were. The only downside is, when all you have is facts, the diagram is dull, lifeless, soulless even, lacking the proper color to really illustrate the character of the subject.
Music, however, enriches the framework by painting it telling colors and revealing some secrets of the soul beneath. It covers like a veneer over a formerly simple outline into a rich work of art with such depth as could never be fully understood... only felt. No other form of writing can truly convey feelings and points as powerfully as can be done with the aid of a voice and an instrument. You can put more passion forth with melodic speech than could the most poignantly written poetry of any age. It enables us the ability to empathize with any who listen, to transfer between kindred souls things for which there are no descriptions, only instincts.
Vocalist and composer (and presumably history buff, like myself) Stef Conner, alongside ancient instrument reconstructionist and accomplished lyre player Andy Lowings, has breathed new life into an age-old civilization by introducing us to what could be the most accurate representation of how a Sumerian serenade might sound in the ancient halls and homes of a Babylonian society.
It's haunting, it's beautiful, and you can (and should) stream it right here, right now:
Stef Conner became fascinated with Babylonian literature and poetry some time after receiving a degree in music composition, according to Newsweek. Most of the Babylonian poetry had previously been recorded in cuneiform on clay tablets.
She didn't stop at just understanding the words, however. She wanted to make sure that she was pronouncing everything as accurately as possible, studying "historical analysis of the stresses and intonations of Babylonian and Sumerian for hints as to how it may have sounded, and researched how language is converted into music in similar Semitic languages."
For more information about Conner's recordings (which will soon be available on iTunes), see the full article here or visit her website here.
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