Ancient Irish musical traditions thriving in India

Sydney, May 14 (IANS) Iron-age Irish musical traditions, thought to be long dead, are still thriving in Kerala, shows an archaeological study of musical horns in India and Europe.

The findings help show that Europe and India had a lively cultural exchange with musicians from the different cultures sharing independently developed technology and musical styles in the olden days.

The realisation that modern Indian horns are almost identical to many iron-age European artefacts reveals a rich cultural link between the two regions 2,000 years ago, said researcher Billy O Foghlu, from The Australian National University (ANU).

“I was astonished to find what I thought to be dead soundscapes alive and living in Kerala today,” he said.

“The musical traditions of south India, with horns such as the kompu, are a great insight into musical cultures in Europe’s prehistory,” O Foghlu pointed out.

One example of this musical mixing is depicted in a carving of a celebration in Sanchi dating from 300 BC that shows a group of musicians taking part, playing two European carnyces, a horn with an animal’s head.

The musical style of Kerala explains some of the mysteries surrounding the horns that have been unearthed in European iron-age excavations and suggest a very different musical soundscape to current western music, O Foghlu said.

“Some almost identical instruments have been unearthed together, but they are slightly out of tune with each other to western ears,” he noted.

“This was previously assumed to be evidence of shoddy workmanship. But in Indian music this kind of dissonance is deliberate and beautiful,” O Foghlu explained.

The research was published in the Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology.

–IANS

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