aulos digression

aulos digression

Postby Yuri Terenyi » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:51 am

Hi Steve, I'm going to go on with the aulos topic here, as it's yet another going off-topic in the recorder thread.
So, to get onto the subject, I made it clear at the beginning to the customer in question that there is a controversy about whether auloi had single or double reeds. Since we are talking about a family of instruments that existed for as an absolute minimum, a millenium, and in many regions, this is by no means a simple question. Taking into account the fact that at roughly the same time there were very closely related instruments used by non-Greek (and non-Roman) peoples in the wider area, it becomes even more of a problem. The launeddas is a good example. It existed at the same time as the aulos, except it didn't die out. Single-reed.
My personal feeling is that most of the time true Greek and Roman auloi wre double-reed beasts. However, I'm also quite sure that single reeds were employed as well, perhaps more in rural settings. But essentially sharing the music.
Anyway, I made my repro using single reeds, as I don't even dare to attempt making double reeds myself. I also made them using narrower bore than what survives. It always puzzled me how wide bores did the auloi use. There are perhaps some 20 or so articles dealing with the remains, and I read nearly all. It seems that a bore of around 10mm was normal. Boggles the mind. The only kind of instrument I can think of of similar dimensions is the Armenian/Turkish duduk, which is double reed, but sounding more like a clarinet.
There is also the very considerable problem of the scale. I personally didn't even consider the microtonal steps, that some proposed. I think if the Greeks were able to enjoy music ranging within two notes, all microtones, thy wouldn't have lasted as long as they did. In any case, the instruments, while it's possible technically to force them to play within a couple of notes, with all those fingerholes, are fairly obviously designed for normal diatonic playing. I settled for a section of a "normal" minor scale. In fact, the way it is, it corresponds more-or-less to the Dorian scale. The two pipes are equal.
Pity I cannot post a photo, I haven't taken any as I don't have a camera, and the guy sent me a photo of the pipes being displayed together with some other repro Greek things. like an amphora, a bronze sword and the like, but it got lost.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Stephen Bacon » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:06 am

The fact is you did it, so bravo. I have never even thought of duduk reeds due to the art , but it does work for the bore size. I do like the crushed reed theory rather than the modern two cane double reed version. I haven't read that many articles, but do have a good deal of source material, a few books on the instrument , vase iconography, and extant specimen measurements. Pliny, Plato and Aristotle speak of many scales. But is your Dorian an ascending or descending Dorian. The dark ages and monastic modes got the greek info inverted. I'm saving this project till I'm an old man.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Steve Senseney » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:54 am

Could you explain "crushed reed"?
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Randy Roberts » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:56 am

As a former oboe torturer, I'd also like to hear more as to "crushed reed".
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Yuri Terenyi » Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:58 pm

Stephen refers to the way duduk reeds are made.
For a start, they are HUGE. The bore, depending on the size starts somewhere at 10-12mm. Sort of comparable to the clarinet. The reed itself is made from a piece of cane that has an outside diameter somewhat larger than the bore, and is tapered into a conical shape at the base to fit a corresponding conical end in the wooden body. The cane is split for most of its lenght on top, and then slowly squeezed together, until it gets into the "normal" double reed position. (The base stays intact, cylindrical). It always carries a bridle, to hold the two blades together. The squeezing must be done with the reed really wet, I cannot imagine it not splitting oterwise.
There are some other similar reeds, the Japanese hitchiriki and the Chinese erm, guanzi, I think, use quite similar ones.
If you Google image these, you get a much better picture.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Stephen Bacon » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:01 pm

Daduke reed in process, lots of water and heat, unintentional crack.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Stephen Bacon » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:24 pm

Crushed reed for nadaswaram, shehnai, zurna, ghaita, and suona among many other cultural shawms set on pencils. Not split just a flattened tube, but works as a double reed.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Yuri Terenyi » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:27 am

Well, yeah, there are these, too. Strictly speaking, these are the crushed reeds, the duduk ones are just squeezed, aren't they? Stephen, you probably know better. Is the photo of the one in the making your own?
I was enumerating the ones that could possibly have anything to do with the aulos, by the way, the above ones are far too small for that.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Stephen Bacon » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:27 am

Both reeds are soaked and bound around a mandril. The duduk reed first has the bark removed in that area first, the smaller one is a different more porous material. I made a few duduk reeds, till I discovered how cheep they are. As with any reed I don't play enough to get the subtleties. The reed I had was too thick, or my playing was too weak, so rather than scrape it as I would a shawm reed I decided to try and make my own to tweak. I think using green cane would have been better. I burnt the bark much more than the one I was copying. I agree that the small reeds are small for the aulos but when I study the drawings the duduk reed is not right either, so I look at both methods. Maybe a term for both would be tube reeds. I know somewhere in my notes I have proper musicological terms for them, I just don't have time to search just now. Just so I don't create more confusion, India as well uses a four layered palm leaf double reed for their shawms, I have an example, but the players I have met use the crushed 'tube' reed.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Stephen Bacon » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:39 pm

For further clarity the Duduk reed is choked down by crushing to fit in the instrument, then it opens up to a much larger diameter and then is flattened at the blowing end then scraped. This may relate to the bulbous section we see on aulos iconography.
Concerning the size of the pipes, the art work varies a great deal, too many of the pipes appear narrow in relationship to the few extant fragments to ignore. A lot of the reed/staple part of the instrument is a very fine diameter before it enters the bore. The instrument had many variations. Still I am not seeing convincing reproductions.
There is a flute at the MET from antiquity that has adjustable tone holes. There are many reasons why the aulos remains a curiosity and debated. The more attempts of making working models the better.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Yuri Terenyi » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:13 pm

The bulbous bit you refer to, I imagine, would be the holmos and the other bit, paraholmos I think it's called. There are quite a few of these extant and the curious thing is that they don't seem to have any practical use, since they are identical bore (in the extant examples, at least) to the main pipe. They just continue the bore, that's all. And the ones found without their corresponding pipe tend to have the same kind of bore (broadly speaking).
I think that what with there being something like a few dozens of Egyptian double pipes extant, as well as the Sumerian silver ones, and I'm sure there are others in the broader area, languishng in some unknown museums/collections, the likely history of the aulos can be presumed to have started with very simple double reedpipes. (The Egyptians are just that.) That is, the pipes themselves being reed, just like the launeddas. They could have had integral crushed reeds molded into the ends of the pipes themselves, or an integral single reed cut out of them. This second method is fairly common even today. The first, integral double reed, that is, is not, to my knowledge. Then later separate reeds would have evolved, then the introduction of other materials for the body.
Talking about other materials, maybe the prevailant bore of some 10mm+ could be the result of extensive use of deerbone, which normally has that kind of natural bore. (I know, as I work with deerbone quite a bit as a carver.)
And there are more examples of auloi with tuning rings, in Naples (from Pompei), in Athens and a bunch has been found in what is today Sudan (in Meroe), all from Roman times, and all have very elaborate bronze keywork.
The difficulty with the whole question is that we really are dealing with a millenium in a strict sense, or more like two- two and a half millenia in a broader sense. Also, would the Egyptian double pipes have been called aulos by the Greeks of that time? I rather think they would. So are they? Not by today's musicological standards, at least not without argument.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Steve Senseney » Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:10 pm

So now, what is a holmos or paraholmos bit.

I did a google search and found nothing (related to drill bits).
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Yuri Terenyi » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:25 am

If you look up any of the Greek vase paintings with the aulos clearly shown (in profile, usually), you will see the player grasping the two straight pipes, and having the reeds in his mouth. What you will also see is usually two, or rarely one short bit between the straight pipe and the mouth. These bits, turned to a kind of bulbuous shape, are separate from the main pipe, and fit into it. There are quite a few actual ones remaining, both with and without their corresponding pipes.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Andy Barnhart » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:49 am

I am always intrigued by instruments based on iconography, though it sounds like you have some extant ones to look at also.

In the right light, I think this Egyptian is rockin' out on a Telecaster :D
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Stephen Bacon » Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:09 pm

Yuri, Many fine points, a millennium is quite a long time and contains vast variations. I feel as well the terminology is quite mixed and can only serve use in context. Athens 500-560BC would be a nice focus for me. I have as well made deer bone as well as bird bone whistles and flutes. Though I have done nothing like your carving on the bone, beautiful work. I rather think the larger bird bones a perfect candidate, but no more so than cane, or wood. I have thought of the holmos and paraholmos ( hypholmion ) as a pirouette and staple. It is good to hear of the extant hoimos, as I have not pursed my research other than at a general organological overview it would be nice to have any reference literature that might bring me up to date. Here are two pictures I recently took in a private residence. One of the bigger bore bulbous holmos style one of the 'Egyptian' single reed style.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Stephen Bacon » Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:11 pm

without holmos
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Yuri Terenyi » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:43 pm

A number of finds have been reported in standard archaeological excavations' reports, these often include holmi, broken fragments of the pipes themselves, and possible candidates for the above, but not enough surviving to be absolutely sure. Naturally, practically all of these happen to be either deerbone or, rarely, ivory. Which is hardly surprising, what with wood tending to rot away.
Here's one reference to a wooden one, found in the Sahara, which explains it not having rotted. It's Roman period.
http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/arc/music2/ ... t-wind.htm
There are other instruments there as well.
If you like, I can look up all te references that I could find to the publications on the aulos finds, complete and oterwise.
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Steve Senseney » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:54 pm

Interesting instruments!
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Stephen Bacon » Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:05 am

Yuri, I am sure you have a better use of your time, but any reference to extant holmi would be of interest.Here is some interesting reference in later Roman times.
http://www.utexas.edu/courses/romanciv/ ... tibiae.jpg
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Re: aulos digression

Postby Andres Sender » Mon Dec 24, 2018 4:35 pm

For any searchers who land here early in their quest: there's been a big project to work on ancient European instruments, one of the results of which is quite a lot of progress is being made (albeit still baby steps in the big picture) toward the revival of the aulos. This blog is an excellent hub leading out to many fascinating videos and papers on the subject.

http://www.doublepipes.info/
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