Ancient Egyptian Music
People in Egypt have probably been playing music since the early Stone Age, long before there is any definite evidence of it. The earliest definite evidence of music from Egypt comes from about 3100 BC, at the beginning of the Old Kingdom.
Because there wasn't any way of recording music or writing down notes in ancient Egypt, we don't know what Egyptian music sounded like. From pictures, we do know what kind of instruments the Egyptians had. As you can see in this picture, there were stringed instruments like guitars and harps. There were also wind instruments like recorders or clarinets, with reeds for the mouthpiece like clarinets today, and by the New Kingdom there were bronze trumpets, too. The woman in the thin white dress is playing two recorders at the same time. And there were percussion instruments like drums and rattles, which is what the little kid is playing.
As the picture shows, a lot of Egyptian musicians were women (though not all of them). Music was a good opportunity for women to work at a skilled job. But just as women in the music industry do today, sometimes Egyptian women musicians had to wear thin or revealing clothes, and dance as well as singing. And some musicians were probably slaves.
To find out more about Egyptian art, check out these books from Amazon or from your library:
Eyewitness: Ancient Egypt, by George Hart. For kids.
Ancient Egyptian Art, by Susie Hodge (1998). Shows kids how Egyptian art relates to Egyptian religion and culture.
Hands-On Ancient People, Volume 1: Art Activities about Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Islam, by Yvonne Merrill and Mary Simpson. Art projects for kids, though the directions are really aimed at teachers or parents.
The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (Yale University Press Pelican History of Art), by William Stevenson Smith and William Kelly Simpson (revised edition 1999). The standard for college courses.
Egyptian Art, by Cyril Aldred (1985). Another standard.
Old Kingdom Egyptian Art
Middle Kingdom Egyptian Art
New Kingdom Egyptian Art
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