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Andy Lowings

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 253068


Music of the Lyre

The Gold Lyre & Silver Pipes of Ur



This takes you to the site but you will need in download and install the
Stage6 Divx plugin to see the video in higher quality then Youtube


Notes on the Gold Lyre & Silver Pipes of Ur video
Shot by Mark Harmer

I'd like to thank Andy Lowings for his energy reproducing the lyre and bringing everyone together, Bo Lawergren (Professor Emeritus Hunter College of the City University of New York) for his work reproducing the silver pipes, Simon O' Dwyer for entrusting them to me, Mark Harmer for such beautiful video craftsmanship, and Bill Taylor for working with my last-minute composing and condensation issues so gracefully (we did not have Mesopotamian temperatures in the church).


Bo Lawergren's reproduction of the silver pipes dictated what you hear at , - more or less.

We tuned the lowest 5 lyre strings to the notes of the pipes, the next 2 strings to perfect 5ths with strings 2 & 3, and the top string an octave above the lowest.

I could have used sharper reeds to stretch out the intervals, or flatter reeds to bring them closer together, but this affects the pitch of the top notes more than the bottom ones.
I settled for roughly equal intervals - 180 cents +/- 15, or a fifth divided into five roughly equal steps - as this is common around the Arabic world and West Africa.


This exploits the moving drone technique, which I heard to great effect in Saeid Shanbehzadeh's Iranian neyjofti playing.
It is structured as follows:
0.04 Theme: pipes solo
0.24 Theme: pipes & lyre
0.44 Var.1 (0011 0011 0011)
0.59 Var.2 (same structure)
1.13 Var.3 (Var1 up a step but 1100 edited)
1.22 Var.4 (Var.2 up a step)
1.32 Cadenza - free improv.
1.42 Theme
2.02 Theme, more florid

The piece is not based on anything in particular, I`m learning through experiment what the silver pipes are capable of and I probably owe Mark a debt of gratitude for excising a fluff in Var.3.
I hope to deepen my assimilation of appropriate musical grammars and idioms considerably over the next few years and would gladly receive input on where to go or what to listen to next.

I make no claim that this is like music of 4,000 years ago.
My approach is gradually to penetrate a rich breadth of musical and contextual evidence - a lifetime's voyage.

Barnaby Brown     October 2007