Lost sounds of the past brought to life (w/ Video, Audio)

August 31, 2009
An audience experiences “the sonic scenario of the past.” Image courtesy Luca Petrella

Salpinx, barbiton, aulos, syrinx. Never heard them? Never heard of them? Neither had anyone else, for centuries. Until now.

These were all musical instruments, familiar to ancient civilizations but long since forgotten.

Ancient instruments can be lost because they are too difficult to build, or too difficult to play, but they can be heard again thanks to the ASTRA (Ancient instruments Sound/Timbre Reconstruction Application) team. These researchers accomplish this feat using computer modeling and grid technology - the shared resources of a distributed network of hundreds of computers.

The video will load shortly

Having successfully reconstructed the sound of an earlier called the “epigonion,” ASTRA is working on a whole host of other lost instruments including the salpinx (a kind of ancient trumpet), the barbiton (an ancient base guitar), the aulos (an ancient oboe) and the syrinx (a pan flute).

More ancient instruments are to be heard soon, after the organization’s official Lost Sounds Orchestra finishes its preparations for a unique performance towards the end of summer.

The video will load shortly
Epiginion playing the Scarlatti Sonata in D Minor

The video will load shortly
Epiginion playing the Scarlatti Sonata in G Major
In many respects, ASTRA’s Lost Sounds Orchestra is like any other orchestra — with real musicians, rehearsals and performances — except its goal is to offer its audience a completely new world of . The sounds of the barbiton and the salpinx are currently being finalized, while a guitar player is familiarizing himself with both the epigonion and the barbiton using his specially adapted electric MIDI guitar, which has been programmed with the lost sounds. The sounds of even more instruments, such as an ancient lower Mediterranean frame drum, should also be completed by the end of summer.

More information: www.lostsoundsorchestra.org/

Source: Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE)

Explore further: A good ear: Rats identify specific sounds in noisy environments

Related Stories

'Chameleon Guitar' blends old-world and high-tech

February 3, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Natural wood, with its unique grain patterns, is what gives traditional acoustic instruments warm and distinctive sounds, while the power of modern electronic processing provides an unlimited degree of control ...

Scientists hear the earth ripping apart

July 21, 2005

Scientists are using nuclear test monitoring microphones to analyze sounds caused by December's massive Indian Ocean earthquake and resulting tsunami.

DISSCO makes 'music' for Argonne, UIUC researchers

June 21, 2005

A mathematician and a musician have teamed up to create a new computer program that both composes music and creates the instrumentation to play it. The software is available for free from SourceForge.net.

Recommended for you

Science: Public interest high, literacy stable

October 28, 2016

While public interest in science continues to grow, the level of U.S. scientific literacy remains largely unchanged, according to a survey by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Experts uncover hidden layers of Jesus' tomb site

October 27, 2016

In the innermost chamber of the site said to be the tomb of Jesus, a restoration team has peeled away a marble layer for the first time in centuries in an effort to reach what it believes is the original rock surface where ...

Important ancient papyrus seized from looters in Israel

October 27, 2016

(Phys.org)—Eitan Klein, a representative of the Israel Antiquities Authority, has announced that an important papyrus document dated to 2,700 years ago has been seized from a group of Palestinian looters who reportedly ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.