The 2014 Hollywood epic Noah may have raised interest in the biblical story of the Flood. The narrative of a cataclysmic flood is also found in other ancient sources, including the Epic of Gilgamesh, a poem that is sometimes considered the world’s first great work of literature. The Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates from around 2100 B.C., was based on even earlier Sumerian poetry. Music historians believe the ancient Babylonians, heirs to the literature of ancient Mesopotamia, may have put such epics to music.
Enter Stef Connor, whose “hauntingly beautiful” vocals now bring these ancient lyrics to life. A British musician and composer, Connor has released a sung version of parts of the Flood story, the first ever album (insofar as anyone knows) to be sung in the Sumerian or Babylonian languages. She is accompanied by instruments especially built and played by Andy Lowings, who steers the Golden Lyre of Ur Project. A taste of Connor’s music can be heard online. Although she doesn’t claim her songs are exactly how ancient Babylonian would have sounded, her passion is “bringing ancient languages alive through music.”
In creating their version of the Flood narrative from the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, Connor and her fellow artists rely on intuition and imagination to fashion musical arrangements. On the album, Lowings plays the lyre, a musical instrument with strings that resembles a harp, as well as three other instruments he (re)created based on extensive research.
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- What Did Ancient Babylonian Songs Sound Like? Something Like This
This article introduces the musical project spearheaded by Stef Connor that attempts to bring to modern ears the ancient melodies of Mesopotamia.
(Source: Newsweek, December 14, 2014)
- Stef Connor
Visit the artist’s official website to learn about Stef Connor’s vision, training, methods, and past projects; the “little taster video” is a must-see.
(Source: stefconnor.com; accessed January 6, 2015)
- The Flood
You can listen here to four tracks from The Flood, by The Lyre Ensemble, with Stef Conner on vocals, Andy Lowings on lyre; produced by Mark Harmer.
(Source: soundcloud.com; accessed January 6, 2015)
- The Epic of Gilgamish
Read one of the earliest near-complete academic translations of the Epic of Gilgamish, by R. Campbell Thompson in 1928; includes all of the main episodes.
(Source: sacred-texts.com; accessed January 14, 2015)
- Epic of Gilgamesh
This encyclopedia article recounts the literary story of the epic as well as its history and interpretation and relations to other ancient literature.
(Source: Wikipedia.com; accessed January 14, 2015)