When viewing the wall paintings and sculptures of the Egyptians, we are presented with another glimpse into early musical history. In Egyptian history, we find music at a similar level of development to that of the Assyrians, technically, that is, but also having a grander spirit.
The Egyptians regarded music as of sacred origin; they employed it largely instrumental music, for the most part in the services of their religion, and, together with astronomy, regarded it in a vaguely philosophic way, fluctuating in their conceptions, between the mystical and the scientific. Judging by the size of the instruments depicted on the monuments of ancient Egypt, their music must have been of a deep and sombre cast than that of the Assyrians.
Many of the Egyptian harps were twice as large as the largest of those of the Assyrians. An flute type of instrument, about four feet long. This is in the illustrations of the obelisks, temples, and tombs of Egypt.
Its fascinating to think that they designed their instruments and musical composition according to there influences at the time. But maybe it's no different to how we in the 21st century design and create new musical instruments. It seems that all musical instruments are still evolving and will continue to do so.
Of the spirit animating the musical art of the Egyptians, we can only guess; but there must have been some'thing fine in the music existing in the days when the priest Taphesumnes wrote this hymn to the setting sun :-
'Gracious be to me, Thou God of the rising sun, Thou God of the evening sun ; Lord of both worlds ; Thou God, who alone in truth dost dwell, Thou who hast created all, Revealing Thyself in the eye of the sun. At eventide I praise Thee, Peacefully dying to begin new life, 'Midst hymns of praise sinking into the sea, Where jubilant Thy bark awaits Thee.'
In today's modern music, hymns like the above are seldom used if ever, and for many years have only been heard in a church or religious setting. But we must conclude that in the early times of the Egyptians, the above hymn would have been part of their top twenty songs, and if indeed it was then we have to accept that in some way, that maybe invisible for the time being, the above hymn and hymns like it, have had a direct or indirect influence on the modern music of today.
Mike Shaw is an organist and keyboard player and owns music websites http://www.mikesmusicroom.co.uk and http://www.keyboardsheetmusic.co.uk