And we got a virtuoso to play it for us
The Hurrian Hymn was discovered in the 1950s on a clay tablet inscribed with Cuneiform text. It’s the oldest surviving melody and is over 3400 years old.
The hymn was discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarit, now part of modern-day Syria, and is dedicated the Hurrians’ goddess of the orchards Nikkal.
The clay tablet text, which was discovered alongside around 30 other tablet fragments, specifies 9 lyre strings and the intervals between those strings – kind of like an ancient guitar tab.
But this is the only hymn that could be reconstructed – although the name of the composer is now lost.
Here it is:
Doesn’t look much like music does it…?
The system of music notation we use now wasn’t invented until 1000 AD. This is something altogether different.
The notation here is essentially a set of instructions for intervals and tuning based around a heptatonic diatonic scale. There’s much more detail about the precise language and instructions here .
The lyrics are very difficult to translate, but one academic has come up with this rendering of them:
‘Once I have endeared the deity, she will love me in her heart,
the offer I bring may wholly cover my sin,
bringing sesame oil may work on my behalf in awe may I'