Friday, 22 February 2008

The Kilmartin Sessions: The Sounds of Ancient Scotland




I bought this CD at the same time I purchased "Compositions of Stone" from The Megalithic Portal. At first, I hated it and, in fact, it has sat indoors not being played at all. I found it rather grating.

However, I grabbed it by accident on my way out the door on my way to work. It was all I had in the car, so I played it and I have to admit it wasn't how I remembered. Now, either the brownies have been moving things in my house again, or I was in a strange mood when I first heard it.

It is a mix of strange musical combinations, but this is because the musicians use original and/or reconstructed instrumentswhich, although odd to modern ears, our ancestors would have been familiar. Instruments such as the 2,000 year old Caprington horn, the carnyx (the Carnyx was a long Celtic drone instrument made of beaten bronze and held vertically so that the sound travels from more than four metres above the ground. It was known through much of Europe from about 200BC to 200AD and was widely depicted, notably on the Gundestrup bowl which shows three carnyxes being played simultaneously. The end of the instrument is in the form of a wild boar's head, and it has a movable tongue and lower jaw!), and bird-bone flutes.

The CD is divided into six sections: Bones and Stones, Skin and Bone, Horn and Bronze, the Bronze Age Orchestra, The Sound of Battle (which is where the carnyx is heard), Hearing Pictish Stones, and the Cry of Prayer. Its certainly not your usual compilation of music! Some of the tracks sounds very similar, but this does not detract from the allure of the CD. Listening to it, I find myself being transported to other places. For reasons of safety, I have had to remove it from my car to be replaced by more conventional music. ;)

The CD is a project of the Kilmartin House Museum, which is an award winning world-class centre for archaeology and landscape interpretation established to protect, investigage and interpret the more than 350 ancient monuments within a six-mile radius of the village of Kilmartin, Argyll: 150 of which are prehistoric. I am not sure if funds from the sale of this CD contribute towards their fund-raising, but I hope so.

If you have a chance, do go and get a copy of this CD - it amazing!

1 comment:

Bo said...

I loved the vocal pieces at the end with the overtone singing. I also really liked the bronza cave-ritual one which its clanking bells and eerie drones!
all best
Mark