History Embalmed

Egyptian Music

The Ancient Egyptians used a variety of musical instruments and this page describes the music and the instruments which were played during the period of the New Kingdom, when new musical ideas arrived from the East. Egyptian music was divided into three groups:

  • String musical instruments
  • Wind musical instruments
  • Percussion musical instruments

Egyptian Music and Musicians
The Ancient Egyptians loved music and talented musicians were in great demand. Music provided a focal point at banquets and religious ceremonies.

The musicians of the Old Kingdom were traditionally men but, as the ages passed, this trend had completely reversed by the advent of the New Kingdom and the majority of musicians were women.

There was no written music, notes were not documented and music was learnt by ear and memorised. Music was seen as an art form and the children of wealthy Ancient Egyptians were taught to play musical instruments for their own pleasure.
 

Egyptian Music - Stringed Instruments
The following stringed instruments were used for creating the music of the Ancient Egyptians:

  • Lyre - An ancient plucked string instrument in the shape of a box, similar to a harp, but smaller
  • The Oud - a pear-shaped, stringed instrument
  • The Kithara was a seven stringed lyre played by professional musicians
  • Harp - the size of harps varied enormously, up to 6 feet tall
  • The Zummara (Double Clarinet) consisting of two parallel cane or bamboo pipes, with five or six holes each
  • Lute - a plucked string instrument which was ancestor to the Oud
  • The Ney - an end-blown flute
  • Kinnor a 10 - 12 string lyre

Egyptian Music - Wind Instruments
The following wind instruments were used for creating the music of the Ancient Egyptians:

  • Oboe
  • Hasosra - a trumpet (usually used at ceremonies)
  • Flute including a Ugab which was a vertical flute
  • Clarinet
  • Shofar which was a horn of a ram or goat

Egyptian Music - Percussion Instruments
The following percussion instruments were used for creating the music of the Ancient Egyptians:

  • Tambourine
  • Cymbals
  • Rattles including the sistrum which was a sacred rattle use in religious ceremonies
  • Castanets
  • Bells
  • Hand-held drums

Hathor, the Egyptian God of Music
The Egyptian Goddess of Music, and Love, was called Hathor often depicted with the head or horns of a cow. Many Ancient Egyptian instruments were carved with her symbol.

Egyptian Music
Each section of this Egyptian website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of Egypt. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of Egypt, the Ancient Egyptians and of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, King Tut.

Ancient Egyptians

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