Early Music of the Sumerian Civilization

Early Music of the Sumerian Civilization



Did Music even Exist in Mesopotamia?

Sumer is one of the earliest civilizations out there. This civilization was an early Bronze Age center of government, commerce, common culture, and specialized labour. The Sumerian civilization had two rivers, the Euphrates, and Tigris rivers. This led to a chain of development when there was more water which helped grow more food which gave the area a higher ability to keep more people. This formed cities, which eventually led to government. This stability led to new productive inventions which helped the masses diversify their work onto other measures. This helped bring music as a career. As a culture of people build in the masses, music became more necessary. Music was an art in Sumer along with literature.

Since this civilization was built in the early Bronze Ages, inventions and innovations were at all time highs, and new innovations were established. Since music was becoming more prevalent in the society, instruments were being made with that bronze. In the Stone Age, instruments like flutes were made out of bones. In the Bronze Age however, different types of inducements were being made like bells, harps, and more wind, wood, and percussion instruments.


Music & Culture of the Sumerian Civilization

Forms of art such as music did exist in the Sumerian civilization. Records were written in a form of writing called Cuneiform which related to wedge like characters that were used in writing and literature. These were mostly seen on clay tablets. This is very important because of the fact that Sumer is the oldest civilization that historians have record of their type of music.

Cuneiform ^

The Sumerian society was divided into many cities by 4000 BC. They did technically have the same culture, but were not united in any means. They grew more and more divided as each city became centralized around a temple with an individual god. This created a religious society, but a society with a rich culture. The ruler of the city was the head of the state, but a high religious figure too. A lot of musicians in these cities were generally hired by the rulers of the cities. The importance of music was shown when these musicians were used by rulers for the church, wars, diplomatic gifts, courts, and more things residing around the country.

Music was also a status symbol in Sumerian cities. The head or king of the city state controlled many parts of the society, so musicians worked under the king in many parts of society, in the temples, churches, and courts. These musicians were hired and supervised by the chief musician. The chief musicians had a lot of power in having control of music organizations and operations, and even hiring new musicians. These people had a lot of respect and status which elevated music in the culture.



  • The instruments the Sumerians had were harps, metal horns, percussion, air phones, idiophones, chordophones, membranophones, harps, lutes, lyres, and more wind instruments.

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