Trio of musicians playing an aulos, cymbala, and tympanum (mosaic from Pompeii) (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Orchestral Offerings on the Winds to the Gods

Ever since humans have been able to pull a blade of grass between their thumbs and blow into it, or tap two sticks on a third, our species has attempted to recreate the sounds of nature and over time these musical skills developed and orchestral offerings were made on the winds to the gods. The origins of musical instruments are exceptionally difficult to establish because it is unknown when clapping and stamping feet were first replaced with tools.

Ancient Egyptian tomb painting depicting lute players, 18th Dynasty (circa 1350 BC) (Public Domain)

Evolution of Music

Evolutionary scientists believe that a musical culture aided prehistoric humans to survive because on a neurological level, music coordinates emotions and consolidates cohesion. Music helps convey important messages to motivate individuals within groups to support other group members and losing oneself in rhythm within a group is an easy, hangover-free form of intoxication and achieving a trance state. Rhythm is the core element of music and it is as natural to humans to beat rhythms with sticks as it is to dance with rhythmic chanting during rituals.

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Ancient Origins Quotations