Recording Studio: How old is instrumental music?

The advent of the Recording Studio is really a blip in time compared to the rich history of music. It is not common knowledge how old music – instrumental music – really is. What we learnt at school is probably outdated at best, but mostly really wrong. We use to think that instruments came up not long before Sumeria. But flutes from bones have already been well known and used in the Stone Age.

Recording Studio: The beginning of music?

The oldest flute that we have today is from Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, and is approximately 35,000 years old. It was produced from a swan’s bone, at a time when drills were completely unknown. It has a nearly perfect pentatonic scale (like chinese recording studio music today). This is probably no coincidence. Other very old instruments have the same scale which tells us that people already had a clear sound system idea 35,000 years ago. You only need a correct scale system like this if musicians want to play together. Shepherds for example didn’t need this because they played solo. Therefore typical shepherd’s instruments will have a completely different system (like Arabic scales) with which you can’t play together.

Recording Studio: The Earliest Musicians

This old artefact with the perfect scale is no proof yet but you better get used to the idea that musical instruments were played in the stone age and probably in enembles.  As with the flute most instruments we know today are refinements of very old ancestors. We can see some of them on monuments and paintings that are hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old. These pictures and sometimes broken artefacts tell us very little about the music that was made with them, just whether people have danced.

Recording Studio: The Evolution of Instruments

Today we assume that the ancestors of the modern woodwind instruments were developed in the middle east and have reached Europe via Turkey. Double reed instruments like the Aulos (a double oboe) in the Etruscan picture were already known in old Egypt and Greece.You see them on mural paintings in burial chambers and on wine jugs. These instruments developed gradually into today’s modern instruments – the modern oboe and the bassoon as well as the instrument commonly used in Turkish popular dance music. A similar development can be shown for the flute, the trumpet, the trombone and all recording studio string instruments.