The lost Irish Musical Tradition Found in India

The study shows that Modern Indian horns are almost similar to many iron age European artifacts and unveils the fact that the two regions were culturally linked together 2,000 years ago

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A depiction of horn instrument. A exhibit in Salem district museum, Tamil Nadu, India.
horn instrument , Wikimedia Commons

By Akanksha Sharma

An archaeologist examining horns from the iron-age Ireland has found musical traditions that were thought to be long deceased, is still alive in South India.

The study shows that Modern Indian horns are almost similar to many iron age European artifacts and this unveils the fact that the two regions were culturally linked together 2,000 years ago, said PhD student Billy Ó Foghlú , from The Australian National University (ANU) adding,”Archaeology is usually silent. I was astonished to find what I thought to be dead soundscapes alive and living in Kerala today.”

Mr. Ó Foghlú said,“The musical traditions of south India, with horns such as the kompu, are a great insight into musical cultures in Europe’s prehistory.”

File:Jakthorn, enligt inskriptionen tillverkat av horn från den sista uroxen i Europa - Livrustkammaren - 102555.tif
An European Horn, Wikimedia Commons

He further mentioned, “And, because Indian instruments are usually recycled and not laid down as offerings, the artifacts in Europe are also an important insight into the soundscapes of India’s past.”

Related Article: The Musical bond between India and Pakistan

This discovery has lead to the idea that Europe and India had a vibrant cultural interchange with musicians from different cultures, and sharing independently has developed technology and musical style.

A carving of a celebration in Sanchi dates back to c300 BC clearly shows a group taking part in the event, playing two European carnyces (a horn with animal’s head).

The musical technique of Kerela explains some of the mysteries surrounding the horns that were unearthed in European iron-age excavations and indicate a very different musical style to the modern age western music, said Mr. Ó Foghlú.

“This was previously assumed to be evidence of shoddy workmanship. But in Indian music, this kind of dissonance is deliberate and beautiful. “Horns are used more as a rhythm instrument, not for melody or harmony in a western sense,” he added.

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

Akanksha Sharma is a student of Journalism in New Delhi. She currently works as an intern in Newsgram. Twitter@Akanksha.4117

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