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Sirius W.

A member registered Sep 10, 2021

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Oh, sure! It was a ceremonial civic event, where a choir and organ provided music while the civic parties were waiting for the King to arrive, and later when the King performed various ceremonial duties. The music at royal occasions like these is usually sung by the King’s own musicians, but local musicians are deliberately brought in when the King is travelling outside the capital (to encourage arts throughout the country, I expect). And he seems to be doing a fair amount of travelling at the moment!

As is often the case for big civic ceremonies in my country, the vast majority of the music was sacred. And there was quite a lot of it; there were over 20 musical items in all! Quite a few well-known composers were featured, including Handel, Howells, Franck, Stanford, Mendelssohn, etc.. I probably shouldn’t go into too many specifics, to avoid identifying the particular event too closely, but that should give you a rough idea!

Having said that, though, we did sing the famous work below. It’s something that’s traditionally performed at royal occasions, and appears really quite frequently. I think the King gets it multiple times a week sometimes, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s quite bored of it by now!

I hunted down this particular recording because it has organ accompaniment, as opposed to an orchestra, which matches the performance I was involved in. But I also happen to know a few of the performers who worked on this disk, and they reliably inform me that this track was recorded as a single, continuous take. That’s pretty rare!

(Anyone who doesn’t know this piece, be sure to listen until at least 1:30 – the first choral opening in this work is especially dramatic, and is worth experiencing!)

Ooo, it’s great to have a glimpse of your main lyre. What an impressive instrument it is! No wonder it produces such a great sound! I’m glad to hear that you’re using it as a basis for Asterion’s main instrument, too. I expect a lyre in this style would suit him really well, and I’m sure he’ll have some interesting things to say on the subject.

And, of course, it’s good to see the two instruments together. It really helps get an idea of scale of the shiny new lyre, particularly with the large books as reference. Anyone who’s reading the comments who hasn’t listened to the lyre video above yet, I’d really recommend it. Both of these instruments sound superb!

I also had no idea that you’ve had no musical education/training/experience. I really couldn’t tell. Your playing is confident, self-assured and sensitive. I could easily mistake you for a pro! So don’t put yourself down. I’m sure it was a long, hard road to get to this point, but you’ve made great strides already. You most certainly *do* have musical talent, even if it was hard earned! Keep up the good work! (And I hope others will take this as inspiration, too. Great music can be made without any formal training and education. It just takes time and dedicated effort!)

Oh, and lest I get *too* distracted by lyres, it’s good to hear that the Hotel itself is making good, steady progress. All the best for the continuing writing/editing of the next two chapters!

Thanks so much for recording these! Especially with the construction work going on around you. Commiserations about that, by the way. I know that can be a *real* pain. Oh, and hello off-screen cat! *waves*

This is a really great way of demonstrating the differences between these instruments. It’s interesting making a comparison based just on sound, since that avoids any distractions based on the look of an instrument (which is obviously important, but it's nice to focus on sound). And the comparison is fascinating. You’re weren’t kidding. These three lyres sound remarkably different!

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts, speaking as a professional musician who isn’t a string-player.

Main lyre:

I’ve already talked about this lyre before! Still, as a quick summary, this instrument has a gloriously rich tone, one that’s full of colour. And this richness extends throughout the range of the instrument. I really like the tone of this lyre. I could listen to it all day!

Luthieros lyre:

This is an interesting one. When I first listened to this recording, the tone of the instrument repelled me a little. The opening sounded a little off-putting. But the lyre’s tone grew on me the more I listened to it. Once I’d listened to the whole track, and gotten used to the instrument, nothing sounded particularly strange if I went back and listened to the opening again. On reflection, I don’t think that’s any fault of the lyre itself. I think what’s happening there is that this lyre is tuned slightly differently to your main lyre. I don’t mean that either was out of tune – just that they were tuned slightly differently compared to each other. That small difference in tuning was throwing me off, which was clouding my judgement a little!

But, that aside, the tone itself is interesting. There’s a significant difference between this and your main lyre, but I’m not sure quite how to describe what that is. The Luthieros lyre is definitely not as rich in tone as your main instrument. But there’s another quality there. The tone sounds slightly more fluid to me. It almost seems as if the strings are a little looser somehow, although I don’t think that’s how the physics works! My guess is that the individual notes might be slightly more resonant on this instrument? Perhaps the notes sound slightly longer, which is giving that fluid quality I’m hearing? Whatever the cause, the fluid quality of the notes works nicely in the faster-moving sections.

I was also struck by the tone across the range. Your main lyre has a fairly even tone, but this one has more variation. At least to my ears, I think it produces its best sounds in the middle register, but is perhaps a little lacking at higher pitches. Incidentally, without wishing to labour the point, it’s interesting to hear that my gut feeling about the resilience of these instruments wasn’t entirely unfounded!

If I were to use an analogy, the tone of your main lyre is like syrup, and the Lutherios lyre is like custard. It’s less rich, but flows a little more easily. In any case, while there is something nice about the fluidity, I very much prefer the overall richness of your main lyre!

New lyre:

Now this is something else altogether! I know this will partly be due to you playing a little differently, but there’s a gorgeous clarity of the sound here. The sound is so crisp and clear. It makes me think of cut glass. Or perhaps, to continue the food analogy, sugar-glazing!

From my perspective, this lyre combines a beautiful, crisp tone with some of the fluidity of the Luthieros lyre. So I guess, in a sense, it’s something of a middle-ground between your main lyre, and the Luthieros one. Also – and apologies if there’s a proper term here that I don’t know – I think the glissandi work particularly well on this instrument. While I was pretty impressed by the sample you posted above, this track has *really* impressed me. This lyre produces a very nice sound indeed!

And yet it’s small, and cheap! That’s just remarkable. I think the sound of this instrument compares very favourably to the Luthieros lyre. But it’s a fraction of the cost and, from the sounds of it, much, much more practical both to play and transport! Again, you weren’t kidding. This lyre really shouldn’t sound anything like this good. But, wow, doesn’t it just! You’ve made something super impressive here: a practical, affordable instrument that makes a wonderful sound. You have the evidence to prove it too! For my money, I get the impression this instrument would work particularly nicely in a small chamber setting (Asterion playing to Luke and Kota comes to mind).

If I saw a lyre of this price in a shop, and it produced a sound like this, I would *strongly* consider buying it! Very nicely done. I think you’ve done some really exciting here!

But, just to continue the comparison a little, I’ve now had time to have a listen to the videos you showed of the very cheap lyres. And ... okay, so they obviously weren’t going to be great, but I really see why you didn’t stick with an instrument like that. Wow. For me, the tone itself is off-putting. The metal strings produce a sound that’s pretty harsh, at least to my ears. That might work for some modern instruments, but I’m not sure it works well in this case. Surely the tone of a lyre should be much warmer than that? And, as you said, there’s a really serious problem with excessive resonance. The notes really bleed together, which must make complex songs almost impossible to play. It would be like playing Bach in a boomy bathroom – you’d just hear mush!

And here are a couple of quick other points on your last point. It’s great to hear that you’re going to be including your own playing in the game! I look forward to hearing it! I’m also quite pleased to hear of your plans for Asterion’s lyre experiments too. I think I may have mentioned this before but, given how important music is to him, it makes a whole lot of sense to me that Asterion would have done some experimenting with the lyre. Perhaps especially as he came across new ideas from visitors to the hotel. I’m guessing he might have gone in a bunch of different directions before coming up with something that he particularly liked. I’ll be really interested to see where you go with that!

Also, this, all the way:

Incidentally: it will be really funny if at some point in the future someone discovers that the Minoans did make lyres like this and they look back on it being independently developed as a speculative exercise for a minotaur-fucking gay game. That will be one hell of a story.

I’m having great fun imagining how journals would reference this. And thinking of carefully chosen snapshots from the Hotel featuring in lectures and seminars! :)

(Finally, my last few posts all mentioned that I wanted to reply sooner, but wasn’t able to. I think I jumped the gun there, because today I have the most absurd reason of all. I'm really, *really* not someone who likes bragging, but this one’s so incredibly unusual that I can’t quite resist. So: I couldn’t reply sooner this time because I was performing for my country’s King – in a room guarded by people wielding *actual, real-life pikes*. Pikes are way longer than I ever thought they’d be, by the way. This is why I like work in music, because you end up doing all sorts of crazy things. And no, I don’t do things like that every day!)

Okay, so I’ve been working late, and I don’t quite have time to write anything just now. But I just couldn’t resist the coincidence. The lyre arriving *now*, of all times, is superb. How’s that for timing? :)

Your Seikilos Epitaph is legitimately impressive, by the way. And the guest appearance of the horse at the end of the sample track for the new lyre made me smile!

Okay, so this is awesome on so many levels! I wanted to reply sooner, but I’ve been caught up in the last stages of preparation for an important interview, and there weren’t quite enough hours in the day. For what it’s worth, I actually considered mentioning this lyre project of yours in that interview, as an example of innovation in modern historically-informed performance, but in the end I couldn’t quite fit it in!

But, before I get distracted, thanks so much for sharing that recording of your own lyre! And, wow, do you have every reason to be proud of your instrument! The tone is gorgeous; the sounds your lyre produces are rich and resonant, and full of colour. Good choice on the music, too. That particular theme works beautifully on your lyre. That’s especially true at the slightly slower speed you chose. Not only does that highlight the resonance of your lyre, but it nicely brings out the peaceful side of the original track. And you give a good demonstration of the range of your instrument too, in a solid performance.

I know it’s simple, and just an experiment on your part, but I think the result is quite captivating. I hope you’ll consider uploading some more in the future! Maybe there’ll come a point where you could even contribute something to the Hotel’s soundtrack yourself!

Now, onto your new instrument. I’m really impressed by this, both from what you’ve produced, but also from your entire approach. Or perhaps ‘ethos’ would be a more appropriate word here, haha.

I think the way in which you’ve used your knowledge of the history and culture of the Minoans to inform your design choices of a new instrument is very sound. Your extrapolation approach is a very reasonable one to take, I would say! Even going back just a few centuries, it’s all too easy to get bound by actual physical artifacts, and to not look beyond them. And you’re going back thousands of years, when all we have are odd scraps of information! Humans are creative creatures, both in the modern day, and in the past. I think it’s quite acceptable to take the historical record as a starting point, and to speculate what other things could have been produced based on it. If we in the modern day can speculate about something that could have been produced in a particular culture, who’s to say that someone in that culture might not have had similar ideas, even if we can’t prove it as such? And if the results of that extrapolation ends up producing something interesting, something that *could* have been, then surely that can only be a positive thing!

As a slightly random example, later this week I’m singing a vocal piece that dates from the 1500s. Only three of the four voice parts survive: one has been forever lost. A music editor has written a new part, in the style of other voice parts of the time, which completes the piece, and allows it to be performed in the modern day. Is this modern version identical to the original piece? Almost certainly not! But the piece is unperformable without it. Is it better that that piece is never performed again, preserving the integrity of the historical record, or that it’s performed in a way in which it *could* have sounded five centuries ago, so long as that’s clearly indicated? If the result is something beautiful that people enjoy, surely extrapolation is the better choice!

Or, thinking about your case specifically, your experience of Knossos gave you a really good idea: making the horns of the consecration into the basis of a lyre. But if you, as a modern person immersed in Minoan culture, could think of that, what would have stopped *an actual Minoan* from thinking the same? We may not have any evidence of an instrument like this, but it seems a little unreasonable to think that, over the thousands of years of Minoan culture, a Minoan musician didn’t at least have the idea, and experiment with it. Maybe that hypothetical experiment wasn’t successful, or the instruments weren’t sturdy enough to survive, or ended up being show-pieces that were never used, or sacred instruments that ended up being destroyed, or the whole idea was taboo from a religious standpoint, so the instruments never really saw the light of day. There are many possibilities.

Clearly, we can’t say that an instrument like that actually existed. There’s no evidence for it. But *could* it have existed, at least in principle? I would think so! And for a project like this, I think that’s more than enough. After all, your project here is to make a new instrument, using history as a guide, rather than to reproduce something that’s already been made. From what you’ve said, I think you’ve more than met that goal!

Incidentally, I love that first picture you showed of the horns, from the palace itself. I don’t think you have chosen a better picture to show the importance of that symbol!

All that being said, I think your idea to make a lyre that is both high-quality and affordable is where this project gets really interesting. Making an instrument that produces a quality sound, but which isn’t a heavy-duty investment that prices out most potential players, is such a good thing I can’t begin to emphasise it. A ‘middle-ground’ instrument like this can only help to encourage people into ancient instruments, perhaps trying them out for the first time. You’re opening up a really interesting world of music to a whole group of new people, and that’s a really great thing. I might even say a noble one.

After all, if the only trumpets one could buy were toy plastic trumpets, or trumpets made out of platinum-infused gold, who on earth would play the trumpet?

(For what it’s worth, as a professional musician, I eye the Luthieros lyres with a bit of suspicion. I’m not a string player – so I don’t know what I’m talking about! – but my instinctive, gut feeling is that those instruments might have been designed more as show-pieces than actual performing instruments. They seem more extravagant than durable. But what do I know?)

I am *super* impressed by those images you’ve shown of your new instrument. It looks beautiful, and it’s even in cedar! The design touches are classy too, particularly the flourishes in gold. That little stand is nice, too, although I’m not sure if it’s part of the set. The instrument certainly looks the part! The size sounds very practical, too. Yet the overall price is thoroughly reasonable! From my perspective, 400USD is very cheap for a decent musical instrument (although I’m not based in the Americas, so maybe my viewpoint is skewed).

The real tell here, I think, is this: based just on the looks at this point, I’d be tempted to pick up one of these instruments! I’ve idly thought about trying out stringed instruments before, so I could go full-on bard and accompany myself singing. But I’ve never really come across an instrument that I think would work for me. For instance, lutes are great, but tricky to transport. But a lyre like this? There’s a chance it might just work! It sounds like it might just hit the sweet spot of having a good tone, and get still being easy to carry around.

So you’ve already got one potential convert. So far so good!

When it arrives, please do make that comparison recording you mentioned! That’s one really good way to demonstrate how the instrument sounds. Could I also request that you say something about its dynamic range? I know that's probably a little niche, but I’d be interested to know whether it can comfortably play at a volume that could accompany a singer / another instrument. Although, given that’s the way in which Asterion uses his instrument – I hadn’t really thought I’d be duplicating his approach until just now! – maybe that’s a more important question than I thought?

Anyway, you’ve done a superb job on this instrument. Kudos! Here’s hoping it sounds as good as it looks! Although, given the materials and the construction, I think there’s a good chance that it will!

Of course! This might take a few words, but I’ll try to keep things as brief as I can. Beware of spoilers below!

Even though it’s early days, I think we can make a good guess what caused the player’s appearance on the station: Professor Senno’s experiment! We know very little about it, but a few small details have popped up in conversation so far. One really useful one comes from a small slip made by Marrowyn: we know the experiment has something to do with quantum physics!

I think this is important. Quantum physics is an area where all sorts of strange, magical-sounding things can happen. I’ve worked in the area, so you have it from the horse’s mouth! In quantum physics, it’s possible to do amazing things like teleportation, manipulating objects at a distance, and messing around with time (to some degree). Depending on your interpretation – we still don’t really understand the mechanics behind the quantum world – we may also be able to shunt objects around between different dimensions. Quantum effects may also be intricately linked to consciousness, and thought. Again, that depends on your interpretation. If all this sounds complicated, bear with me!

We know that Senno’s experiment didn’t work as planned. His data doesn’t make sense to him, and it sounds like his team is unsure what, if anything, happened while the experiment took place.

Here’s my thinking. Senno’s experiment either did something completely unexpected, or else worked far, *far* better than he had hoped. The quantum-mechanical forces unleashed reached out and grabbed hold of the player, dragging them back to the carain station. Remember how the first place we see in the station is a lab full of scientists? I’m guessing that lab is pretty close to the room housing the experiment! (Why wouldn’t the player materialise right inside the experiment? Well, with quantum mechanics, there tends to be a bit of fuzziness with things like position. You can never be completely sure where objects will end up, only roughly where they’ll be. Thanks, Dr. Heisenberg!)

So why was it the player that got transported, rather than anyone or anything else? It could be an accident, but the game’s already hinted at something more. Remember, at the beginning of the game, that the player was clutching the campus map, trying to find out where to go? That map features the college mascot, a humanoid bulldog. The mascot features again, in the little alcove the player was hiding in when the transportation happened. If you play the opening of the game again, you’ll see the mascot appears on a little poster on the wall, right in the player’s line of sight. I think it’s fair to say that the player could have been thinking about the mascot at the instant of transportation.

Here’s a suggestion. The energy of Senno’s experiment reached out a long, long way. It groped around to try and find the closest thing related to its origin point that it could: the mind of a carain. There are no carain on Earth, but the experiment found the image of the mascot in the player’s mind. The experiment grasped onto that, and dragged it back to the station, pulling the player along with it. This might sound weird but, if you buy the consciousness interpretations of quantum mechanics, it could just be possible! We’re going outside the realm of human physics here! The player-character might be coming to this theory on their own, too, at least subconsciously. Remember that dream about the mascot?

Anyway, that’s what I think happened: the player was dragged to the station by the energies of Senno's experiment. I could stop there, but I did mention *theories*, and I’ve only discussed one here. That’s because I’ve skipped over one little detail. Where actually *is* the player? Where is the Arias system?

I’ve already said a bunch of things, so I’ll just summarise this. Although if anyone really wants to hear more, let me know – I’ll whip up a Marrowyn lecture, haha. I have three ideas.

1. The Arias system is somewhere else in the Universe. This could work, but the problem here is with the carain themselves. They are incredibly close to earthly species of dog, and the chances of a species evolving independently like that is astronomical. In galactic terms, that means that you’d need to travel a long, *long* way before you’d expect to find a species like the carain. By long, I mean many, many times the size of the portion of the Universe we can currently see. Say something like a trillion light years. Physics gets pretty weird over long distances like that, and that might mess up Senno’s experiment. I’m not sure I buy this one.

2. The Arias system is in another dimension. This is neater, and solves a lot of problems. You don’t need to worry about probabilities, here, because pretty much *anything* can happen in another dimension, if you go looking for it. That being said, it’s still a little strange that the carain evolved independently, in a separate dimension. Humans bred dogs for very specific purposes, producing the different breeds. I don’t think those breeds would be produced by a self-aware species evolving naturally; the selection processes would be really different. So how did the breeds appear? Were there humans in this other dimension, that bred dogs and then died out, letting the dogs evolve dully into carain? This solution could work well, but it still has a lot of unanswered questions.

3. The Arias system *is* the Solar System, but far in the future. I don’t think this is the right answer, because I have to make a *lot* of concessions to make this work. It’s a cludge, and fails Occam’s Razor terribly! But it’s fun to think about. This also solves the problem of the origin of the carain. They *are* dogs, and evolved to become carain after the human race died out, or left for somewhere else, or transcended into beings of pure energy, etc.. There are a few interesting similarities between Arias and Sol, too. Comparing the systems is a bit messy, but I can make something work. Here’s a suggestion:

Arias = Sol: Humans mined the star for gas, which is why Arias is a little smaller than Sol (i.e. it’s an orange dwarf, rather than a yellow dwarf).

Tiruum = Mercury: This comparison is pretty much one-to-one.

Iyeo = Venus: Humans terraformed the planet, and shifted Luna there (check Marrowyn’s picture!). That might have been to help with colonisation.

Urium = Earth: It’s arid and inhospitable because of thousands of years of extreme climate-change and/or the aftermath of a global, catastrophic war.

Dyss = Mars: It’s arid, and also more inhospitable than the ruins of ‘Earth’, which makes sense.

Morrendi = Jupiter: Humans mined this completely of its gas, so all we’re seeing is the core. That would explain why it’s small and uninteresting, as Marrowyn describes it. The moon Ryke is actually Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is also covered with water-ice, and which would be a good candidate for somewhere to live.

Novail = Saturn: This was mined, but less extensively than Jupiter. It’s much smaller now.

Reklain = Neptune: This isn’t that well known, but Neptune *does* have rings! I’m saying Neptune rather than Uranus, because Marrowyn’s picture shows roughly the right number of moons.

What happened to Uranus? Either humans mined it so much that they depleted it completely, or else its core became another moon of Neptune. Uranus’s core is pretty tiny! (Bonus, bonkers theory: humans used it as an interstellar ship / mass for building a temporary wormhole!)

What about Pluto? It’s still there, but the carain don’t consider it to be a planet. And the asteroid belt? Either Marrowyn just skipped over it, since he was just talking about planets, or else humans mined it heavily, so it’s much less of a feature now.

As I say, this displacement-in-time theory is unlikely to be the right approach, but I had fun thinking about it! I suspect the alternate-dimension theory is the one that makes the most sense.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Sorry to be so wordy, but there are some tricky details in these theories! Uh, and if anyone hasn’t been put off by this little essay and wants more details, or would like to ask some questions, do say!

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Ooo, and a mystery too? Now that’s even more exciting – particularly if it’s what I think it is! Here’s hoping it all works out!

Here’s a voice in support of that lyre-based DevLog! :)

You’ve got something really nice going on here! This VN has lots of great aspects – the art, the setting, the music, the characters – and they combine to produce something that’s really quite interesting. I look forward to seeing where you go with this!

I’ve already had a bit of fun thinking about what might have happened to the protagonist to shift him from A to B. I have a couple of different theories about that already, but of course it’s still early days. As things progress, I’ll be interested to see if I’m thinking along the right lines at all, or if I’m wildly off-base!

Anyway, while I could praise a bunch of specific aspects of this VN so far, I hope you don’t mind if I geek out on something really niche ...

I really like the carain written language! It looks really well-crafted. Maybe I’m overthinking this, but I get the impression some work’s gone into its construction.

You see, not only do the individual glyphs look convincing, but so do complete portions of text. I got to thinking about this during Marrowyn’s talks. To my eyes, it really does feel like there’s some sort of meaningful information in those slides of his, but that I just don’t know how to interpret it. In other words, exactly what would happen if it was an Earthly language I didn’t know! I don’t *think* you’re using a simple cypher from English, or from other obvious languages, although it’s possible I’ve missed something obvious. After all, there’s not massive amounts of text to look at so far! And separating out letter and number glyphs could be tricky (e.g. are the glyphs on doors numbers, or letters, or both?). Still, if these pieces of text have been crafted from scratch, then they’re super convincing. Good work! I hope we’ll get to see some more!

I do like the glyphs themselves, too. What I particularly appreciate is that there’s a set of ‘base’ glyphs, and then a few variations on some of these glyphs. The variations seem to be systematic, too. In other words, getting technical for a moment, the carain language appears to have diacritics! For example, some glyphs have modified versions with a little circle on them – I really want to call that a ‘blob’ for some reason. And, not only that, but the position of the blob is important. A couple of glyphs have a variant with a blob near the top of the glyph, and one with a blob near the bottom. I’d be tempted to interpret that as some sort of accent, say the difference between é and è. Or maybe it’s something completely different, like a Japanese handakuten. But it’s systematic, and it looks convincing. That’s some nice construction!


Anyway, since I’m writing, and as the other characters seem to have gotten some love in the comments recently, I just wanted to give a shout-out to Marrowyn. He’s such a nice guy! And yes, my opinion of him remains unchanged after what’s happened in chapter 2 so far! :)

Me, complain about geeking out over early instruments? You must be kidding! :)

Uh, I did get a bit over-zealous in thinking about this, though, producing a bit of a hefty ramble. So sorry in advance for being a bit wordy here ...

I had a feeling these instruments wouldn’t be new to you! Thanks for going into detail. You’ve certainly given me plenty to think about! These instruments are a new discovery for me, so it’s great to have more information about them, and their modern reconstructions too. I’m slowly reading more, as and when I have time, and I’m having a whale of a time.

It sounds like I should really start looking into Peter Pringle in more detail. He’s clearly put a lot of thought and effort into reconstructing these instruments, over many years to boot, and he’s produced some really impressive results. He must have some insightful things to say about the reconstruction progress! That point about adding a metal bar into the frame to support the tension of the strings under tuning clearly shows that he knows his stuff!

Thanks, by the way, for posting his Lament for Gilgamesh. It’s phenomenal! I appreciate how he’s really going all out in that performance, fully emoting all the way. The two instruments and the voice combine beautifully, too. And the sound of the lyre is really quite something. Those deep metallic overtones are extraordinary. I really can’t think of any other instrument that produces a tone quite like that!

You’ve also pointed out something really obvious, but which I somehow hadn’t clocked. I’d thought about Crete being a powerful trading centre, but only in the sense of collecting artifacts from other cultures. Somehow, I hadn’t thought about the *reverse*! It makes perfect sense in hindsight that Minoan artifacts would have spread widely around the Mediterranean area, and that the cultural mixing would go both ways. I think, whenever I’ve looked at Minoan artifacts in the past, I’ve not really checked where they were actually *found*. I’ll have to pay to may more attention to that in the future!

For instance, I find the idea of cultural mixing between Egypt and Crete rather appealing. I’d always held the two cultures in my head separately, not properly realising that these two cultural powerhouses would naturally have been in contact. It’s interesting to think about how they might have interacted! I had no idea that there were Scarabs were found in Crete, for instance. I’ll have to look those up!

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Minoan artifacts turned up in Mesopotamia, too. It they made it as far as Egypt, I can image them getting to Babylon as well. I did propose something like that, but it would be interesting if there were artifacts that actually backed that up. I’ll keep an eye out for any references while I’m reading around!

For what it’s worth, I do like your theory that lyres were a highly developed class of instruments in c.1400BC. That makes a whole lot of sense to me.

My thinking on this comes down to the time factor. We know that lyres were in use in 2600BC, over a thousand years previously. And there’s evidence of other stringed instruments that goes back even further. I had a dig around for another reference while thinking about this, which I’ll put here just for fun. Here’s a cylinder seal found in a broadly similar area to the Mesopotamian lyres, Uruk this time, dating from c.3100BC. The general consensus seems to be that the figure on the left (of the righthand portion of the image) is playing a sort of lute. This artifact is in the British Museum, and the image is under their copyright:

Also, there seems to be good consensus that people were employed as professional musicians as far back as the Mesopotamian lyres, and possibly even earlier. That ties in with what you said about the kithara! (Fun fact, references to the kithara pop up in my work from time to time, but almost exclusively in Latin texts.) Moreso, it seems that musicians were employed by royalty, presumably in well-paid, honourable positions.

As soon as you start giving people power and status for something, you get innovation! I simply cannot imagine that musical instruments and playing techniques would have remained static for a thousand years, given that. Musicians would surely have competed with each other for the top jobs, developing refinements to existing instruments, new ways of playing instruments, new modes of composition, even new instruments, all to gain an advantage over the competition. Since lyres were around in at least 2600BC, they must have received significant refinement by the high period of the Minoan civilisation. And with refinement comes variety. I can well imagine that a great variety of different types of lyre would have developed, much as there is great variety of violin-like instruments in the modern day.

So I would totally buy your idea of lyres being a highly developed set of instruments by c.1400BC.

I’ll tie that into your comment about lyre sizes, too. While there seems to be a broad consensus on the sorts of sizes of ancient lyres, I – speaking only as an amateur, of course! – think it’s possible to read too much into the archeological evidence. Lyres are relatively fragile instruments (except for these hardy metal early models, I suppose), and decompose easily. We really don’t have all that many surviving examples of them, in the grand scheme of things. And the ones we *do* have are presumably fairly traditional. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that lyres produced and played by the common person would have been largely lost.

So, while we do have a range of lyres in the archeological record, I’m not convinced they’re a representative sample. I would guess there’s more variety than we strictly have evidence for. And I don’t think there’s any harm in making some logical guesswork about what might be missing, given what we know about music in general.

I think one fairly natural innovation in music is in pitch. If you have instruments playing together, it makes sense to have the instruments playing at quite different pitches. That makes the different parts easier to hear. Since we have some evidence of people singing to lyres – that is, two musical instruments playing together – then wouldn’t someone also have thought to have several *lyres* playing together as well? That might also help explain the rather elaborate tuning systems on these instruments, too. While these are naturally needed to keep the instrument in tune with itself, one important facet of a tuning system is to help one instrument play in tune with *other* instruments.

When you propose an idea of a ‘lyre consort’, like this, it makes sense to have lyres of different base pitches too.

Since the pitch of a lyre scales with its size, then I’d argue that you should expect lyres of several different sizes to exist. The two obvious sizes to have are ‘big’, making a ‘bass’ lyre, and ‘small’, making a ‘treble’ lyre. If you add more instruments, you’d put them in-between those two sizes, where they can add internal harmony (giving you ‘alto’, ‘tenor’ ‘mezzo’, etc. lyres). It looks like there’s variation like this in existing lyres already, to some degree – hopefully I'm not rehashing something that's well-known! – but I’d propose there’s more variation than we have evidence for.

So, while your 1m tall lyre might seem large compared to the historical record, I’d just argue that you’ve made a ‘bass lyre’! Or maybe even a ‘contrabass’!

Now that I think about it, I wonder if Asterion might have some views on this? I can picture Asterion wanting to teach the lyre to the player (perhaps particularly for an artist-type player?), but maybe they could also play *together*? I’m envisioning a situation where Asterion and the player form a little lyre duo! (In a slightly niche reference, I can’t help but think back to the little duet between Marin and Link in the original Link’s Awakening).

It’s interesting to hear that you’re working on a new design for Asterion’s lyre, too. One thing that got me wondering about this topic was thinking back to the early design you used. Reading what you’ve said here, it makes perfect sense that you’d go for something straightfoward (and easily recognisable!) early on, when you didn’t know as much as you do now!

I have to admit, I’ll be really interested to see the sort of design you come up with. I can imagine Asterion going in a bunch of different directions with an expanded instrument, especially if modern design techniques come into play. I look forward to seeing how that looks!

And no, it is absolutely *not* dorky to want to make his lyre reproducible! Anything that encourages people to play music is a great thing, especially if it’s in relatively niche areas such as ancient (or ancient-ish) instruments. I think that’s a pretty cool venture, myself. Kudos for you for wanting to make it affordable, too.

Now, you’ve probably already thought really carefully about this. And you already know far more about the design of these instruments than I do! So anything I come up with you’ve probably already thought of! Still, I couldn’t resist having a little think about how a good-quality, affordable lyre could be produced. It’s an interesting little puzzle.

This might be a bonkers idea, but I’m wondering whether one solution might be making it out of metal? As I understand it, the high cost of many high-end string instruments is due to the time and skill needed to carve the wood. Making metal objects can be much quicker and cheaper, under the right circumstances. That’s particularly the case if you choose the metal well – certain metals come surprisingly cheap.

This is bit beyond my simple metalworking skills, but I think you could make the frame of a metal lyre using a casting process. You make a mould, pour molten metal into it, and when it cools you have a metal frame. With the Mesopotamian lyres, you do have some degree of historical precedent too! I say this with the caveat that the internet claims that such a process is unsuitable for short production runs, although I’m sure my serious metalworking friends do things like this quite regularly. I’d have to check with them – it’s possible I’m being stupid, and misunderstanding something they’re doing! At least using this approach you’d only need to pay for the production of the mould first off, and then just the material and time taken to pour and cast after that. Maybe it would come out cheaper than wood?

The other option that comes to mind, which people could make independently, is 3D printing. It should be possible to create all the components of a particular lyre (minus the strings, naturally) out of plastic. This approach has the advantage that you could make an official Minotaur Hotel CAD design, which people could download and use straight away! The worry I have with this, though, is that I’m not sure how a plastic lyre would sound. I think that the material of a lyre should be really important for its tone quality. Since plastic isn’t very dense, it won’t make a very good resonator, and I’d worry that a lyre made using it would be quiet and tinny. It might not be nice to hold, too. And, somehow, I can’t quite envision Asterion going for plastic. But maybe it’s worth experimenting with, just in case?

Anyway, you’ve probably had better ideas than those already!

By the way, there’s something I meant to say earlier in this thread, but never got around to. Would you perhaps consider sharing some sound files of you playing your lyre at some point? I’d be interested to hear your instrument, and your interpretations, and I’m sure other people would be too. Your beast of a lyre must produce a pretty awesome sound! (Of course, no pressure. I know only too well that public performance is a whole different world to playing in your own company!)

So, I was wandering around the British Museum the other day, and came across a couple of fascinating instruments I hadn’t seen before. I thought they’d make an interesting addition to this old thread!

I was originally going to post some pictures I took myself. However, there’s an image on Wikipedia that’s so much better than my attempts, and I thought it would be best to use that instead. So, here’s a picture of these two instruments, taken by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg):

This image shows two lyres, found at the Royal Cemetery in the ruins of Ur, dating from about 2600BC. It’s hard to stress just how early this is. This is nearly *2000 years* before Homer, and centuries before the Minoans built their first palaces!

The thing I find so striking about these instruments is that they’re *huge*. Thankfully, the person in the picture above helps to give an idea of scale. Both lyres are around 1m tall! That’s much, much larger than the traditional dimensions of the classical Greek lyre! They both contain large amounts of metal, too, so these instruments would be *heavy*. And yet, remarkably, murals from the period show that they were simply held in the hand when they were played. These musicians would have had to be strong and dextrous, I think!

Interestingly, all the instruments from this set are decorated by bulls!

Here’s an informative video which demonstrates how a lyre like this might have sounded. The instrument here is a replica, but it’s enough to give a rough idea! The metallic frame gives the instrument quite a distinctive colour:

I was thinking about this, and started to wonder what sorts of instruments Asterion might have played in his lifetime. Feel free to ignore the rambling theorising below!

It’s only really possible to guess what instruments Asterion would have been familiar with if we know roughly when he lived. It’s possible some dates have already been given – if so, I’m sorry for being forgetful! – but here’s some crude guesswork. We know that Asterion knows Linear A well, but not Linear B. Thankfully, that helps us to tie things down pretty neatly. From archeological records, we know Linear A was only widely used from about 1625BC to about 1450BC. That’s a pretty narrow window. So we should be able to place Asterion somewhere within this two century gap! Given he’s at least aware of Linear B, he’s probably closer to the 1450BC end – but probably not pushing right up against that boundary.

But there might be a problem here, at least so far as lyres go. The earliest record we have of a classical Greek lyre is a Minoan mural on the Greek mainland – which is good! – but it only dates to about 1400BC. That’s ever so slightly later then the Linear A period. In other words, there’s no evidence that classical lyres were used while Linear A was also in popular use. So, if Asterion speaks Linear A, then the historical record suggests that he might have slightly *predated* the Greek lyre. At least, when he was alive. Maybe he picked the instrument up later, in the underworld? Could his childhood lyre have been something else entirely?

If Asterion played something different during his physical lifetime, what might that have been? Well, even in his relatively late period of Minoan history, the Minoans would presumably have been powerful maritime traders. Asterion lived before the sacking of Troy, so Crete would have had a powerful trading partner close by. And the Trojan borders covered much of the distance from Crete, in the west, to the Babylonian Empire, in the east. So it’s a possibility – albeit it a shaky one – that Babylonian instruments could have made it all the way to the Minoans.

So perhaps Asterion would have been familiar with huge lyres like these after all?

Of course, there’s a bundle of problems with this theory. We don’t see big lyres during this period *either*, so my earlier argument cuts both ways. And Asterion clearly *does* know about classical lyres! As much as I’d want to argue he might have picked that up in Hades, I can’t really justify that. Asterion pretty much contradicts that himself.

Still, I rather like the idea that both types of lyres might have been competing in the Crete of Asterion’s day. Maybe he actually learned on both sorts of instruments, but eventually ended up preferring the newer Greek style?

Anyway, sorry for the theory ramble!

While looking for something completely different, I came across this:

This is music for two Ancient Greek works already mentioned in this thread! No. 12 is Mesomedes’s Hymn to Nemesis – important for the Hotel – and No. 13 is the opening eight verses of Pindar’s first Pythic Ode. The surviving parts have been fleshed out by the 19th century composer, Dr. Crotch. (No, I’m not making that name up.)

I thought I’d put this here in case anyone wanted to play along to these – particularly to Nemesis!

(In a second nice coincidence, Minoh posted in this thread earlier today. So I don’t even need to look it up. Hooray!)

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Thanks for letting us know!

In the 1920s, famous composer Frank Martin started work on a big, new piece of music. He got a fair way through it, and then stalled. He put it in a drawer. It stayed in the drawer for many years.

But, after all that time, he had inspiration. He got it out again, and finished it. The result is one of the most famous and popular choral works of its time. See, e.g. the end:

Times are hard right now. Sometimes, art needs to take a backseat to life. That’s true for anyone, no matter who they are. It might not seem like it now, but things will get easier. It may take time, but you’ll eventually be able to work on this again. And when you do, your audience will still be here! Your work is good, and there will always be people who will be interested in it. Take that from me!

So, take the time you need! Ride out the storm of life. And when the waters calm again, and you return refreshed and revived, there will be plenty of people excited to see what you write next. Myself included!

Until then, all the best, and I hope things get easier for you soon!

Thanks so much for the information about Iphigenia in Aulis!

I think my problem was that I slightly misinterpreted the sources I was reading. They went into some detail about the structure of the music in this fragment, and various stylistic approaches used in the melody. I got into my head that this meant that the fragment was in good shape. I hadn’t thought that all that information could be determined even from a heavily damaged papyrus. Oops!

The image you posted is a really nice one, since it gives a good indication of how much damage there is. It’s a real shame that we can’t make more of it – although I suppose we can be thankful that at least those small portions of music survive! It’s a tantalising window into a musical period that is so nearly lost to us ...

By the way, don’t worry too much about having trouble hearing quarter-tones! That’s actually really quite common. At least in modern Western cultures, the ear is trained from an early age to recognise semi-tones as the smallest unit of music. Quarter-tones appear so rarely that the ear isn’t trained to recognise them. Because of this, it’s easy for listeners used to Western music to confuse semi-tones and quarter-tones. I know I do!

Thanks also for posting Tecmessa’s Lament! I wasn’t aware of it, and it’s quite striking! I rather like the chromaticism, and some of the dissonant intervals (the end of line two is great). I think it’s interesting that I would naturally associate both of these features with a lament – although, given the large expanse of time between then and now, that may well just be a coincidence.

Good choice on posting the Monterverdi, too. It’s a fine, fine work, and it’s great to have a good excuse to listen to it again! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Lawes was aware of it. It’s entirely possible Monteverdi’s work inspired his own setting. At the time Lawes was writing, Italian music was becoming increasingly popular in Britain. Scores was being brought over from Europe, and composers were studying and copying the continental styles. Lawes made strong use of the new Italian style first popularised by Monteverdi. You can hear the similarity in styles between the two Ariadne videos we posted, I think!

I’m in danger of getting off-topic here, but just a brief aside. Compare those Ariadne videos to the one below. This is British, based on Greek/Roman myth, but predates both Ariadne works by a few decades. It’s in a much more ‘British’ style (which really means that it uses older Italian influences!). The work describes how various important deities from the Greek/Roman pantheon give honour to a famous mythical British Queen: Oriana. Since the video doesn't mention it, this madrigal is by John Lisley. It looks to be his only surviving work!

“Fair Cytherea* presents her doves,
 Sweet Minerva singeth,
Jove gives a crown,
a garland Juno bringeth.

“Fame summons each celestial power
To bring their gifts to Oriana's bower.
Then sang the Shepherds and Nymphs of Diana:
Long live fair Oriana.”

*Cytherea (‘Lady of Cythera’) is another name sometimes given for Aphrodite.

Sorry. I didn’t mean to steal your thunder!

I really appreciate you holding off on talking about Orestes until finding a good translation. And, even better, putting it into context! While there was a translation attached to the video I posted, it rather misses the sense of the text. That’s one reason I didn’t want to point it out. The translation you posted here is much, much better. Anyone who wants a translation of the Orestes fragment, use MalPerMeCheMaffidai’s!

I really like your two videos, too. The live performance is great! It’s sung and played with real spirit, which I really appreciate.

The more academic video is interesting, not least because of how much information is clearly presented on the screen at any one time. It raises a rather nice point, too. This video uses a different set of intervals to the other Orestes fragment videos in this thread. It uses quarter-tones, whereas the other videos use semi-tones, along with some other slight differences.

I may be wrong about this, but I believe this is because of ambiguity in the notation. This notation is so old, and we have relatively little of it, that we can’t be completely sure what it represents. Those small intervals could be interpreted as a semi-tone, or quarter-tone, or even as smaller increments (at that point, the notes are essentially the same). The only way to know for sure would be to find more material to compare against! Of course, if I’m misunderstanding something there, please do correct me!

Interestingly, this isn’t the only fragment of Euripides’s music to survive. There are also two fragments from ‘Iphigenia in Aulis’, one of which has alternation between Iphigenia herself and the chorus. I gather these are fairly complete fragments, and I have the impression that enough information survives to produce short performable versions – much like with the Orestes fragment.

Curiously, though, I’ve yet to actually find any performances of them. Does anyone know why that is? Is there something odd about those fragments?

Also, complete aside, but I’ve also just come across this. It’s not ancient, but it reflects on the Labyrinth. Says Ariadne: “For ‘tis a Lab’rinth of more subtle art, To have so fair a face, so foul a heart.”:

Oh, that’s really neat! I hadn’t picked up on that at all. It’s wonderfully fitting that a large work like this, one that looks at events and themes spread over such large timescales, should begin with an homage to Calliope. In a way, it’s your own Homeric ‘Sing, O Muse!’.

As for whether it’s an ancient song or not, I’m not sure I particularly mind. It’s a fine piece of music either way! I always like to think of music performed as having its own merit, regardless of its origin.

For instance, I do think it’s really important and interesting – not to mention enlightening – to perform historic music in ways that try to recreate how those works would have sounded at the time they were written. But I think it’s also informative to reinterpret this music with a modern mindset. Likewise, I think it’s worth using historic themes in new music, and also to write new music in historic forms. There’s a real art in writing good pastiche of historic styles. If this Calliope is a pastiche, or even simply evoking a certain style, I think it’s pretty decent.

As for using ancient themes, I think it’s interesting that the Greek Gods have never really left us, at least in art. We might not build temples to them these days, but they’ve been a continuous part of many cultures for thousands of years. I’m a singer myself, and I sing music from a wide range of eras – spread over a good thousand years or so. And I can think of references to the Greek Gods that span most of that time. There are just so many examples!

One song springs to mind. I’d post it here, but sadly no-one seems to have recorded it yet. It was written in the 1670s/80s, and has as its text a poetic translation of Anacreon’s Ode ΕΙΣ ΛΥΡΑΝ. At least to me, the text seems to sit well alongside Minotaur Hotel. The title refers to the lyre, and the song is accompanied by the lute – the lyre’s close companion – so that too seems fitting!

“I'll sing of Heroes, and of Kings;
In mighty Numbers, mighty Things.
Begin my Muse! but lo! the strings
to my great song rebellious prove,
the strings will sound of nought but Love.

“I broke them all, and put on new;
'tis this, or nothing sure will do.
These sure, said I, will me obey;
these sure heroic notes will play.
Straight I began with thund’ring Jove,
and all th’immortal Pow’rs, but Love.

“Love smil'd, and from my’nfeebled Lyre,
came gentle Airs, such as inspire
melting Love, and soft Desire.
Farewell then Heroes, farewell Kings,
and mighty Numbers, mighty Things;
Love tunes my heart, just to my strings.”

Well, it’s nice to hear that I helped out a little! After all, it’s all too easy to concentrate on the negative aspects of your art, missing all the positives. Everyone needs some encouragement sometimes. I know that from my own experience!

So, just keep up the good work, at whatever pace works for you. You’ve done some really nice things so far, and I look forward to seeing where you take this in the future! :)

Please don’t put yourself down!

I know it’s easy to say, but there comes a point when comparing yourself to other developers isn’t too helpful. After all, for all you know, they’re millionaires lounging on a beach. Or out of work. Or they’ve hired a cast of thousands. Or any number of things. There are all sorts of reasons why they might be working quicker than you. Spending too much time worrying about what other developers are doing can hamper anyone's creative processes. I know it does for me!

Do what you do best, and work at the pace that works for you, and for your life as it is now. You might be pleasantly surprised to know just how trusting and patient your fans can be! We can wait!

Sure, a symphony can be written in a day. A novel can be written in a week. But no-one really ever does this. Even the really great names in history rarely do. That’s because art is *hard*. And we live in the real world, which often gets really messy. If it takes Tolkien years to write a single book, I don’t think you should put yourself down for taking a while to write yours!

So, if you can, try not to worry what others are doing. You’re doing just fine! That’s in amongst all the awful things that happening in the world around us, not least the things you yourself have been experiencing. Work at your own pace and, in time, you’ll have something really beautiful that everyone can enjoy. Good art takes *time*. Don’t rush it, and give you mind a rest when you need to!

And all the best for the nasty things you’ve been going through.

Wonderfully, there are some surviving examples of vocal music from the Mediterranean cultures in the classical era. This includes quite a few examples from Ancient Greece! MalPerMeCheMaffidai has already posted one here, but there are plenty more!

The nice thing about vocal music is that the human voice is still largely as it was several thousand years ago. So, while of course we need to worry about language, tone and colour, at least we don’t need to recreate the instrument!

Perhaps particularly relevant to this thread is Mesomedes of Crete. Minoh Workshop has already anticipated me in mentioning him – unsurprisingly! – but I’ll include my little spiel here anyway. After all, I’m focusing on vocals here specifically!

Mesomedes lived during the late 2nd century AD, which means he was broadly contemporary with the Seikilos epitaph. Several devotional hymns of his survive, complete with both music and text. These include hymns to the Calliope, Nemesis (see above) and the Sun (and so Apollo).

Somehow, I can see Asterion appreciating a hymn to Calliope, who was the muse related to epic poetry. It’s short, but beautiful:

Here’s his Hymn to the Sun, which is a fair bit longer:

These recordings are a touch over-interpreted – the original hymns are a single vocal line with no accompaniment, while the recordings add various instruments and changes in tone based on modern tastes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Just be aware that the original performances might have sounded quite different from what you’re hearing here. The same goes for the Hymn to Nemesis too. That being said, all these performances are played with real spirit, and are interesting interpretations. I enjoy them!

If you allow short pieces, you can go back much earlier. For instance, music survives for parts of Euripides’s plays, who was writing a good 500 years before the Seikilos epitaph and Mesomedes. (Although still 1000 years after Asterion’s day). Here’s some music from Orestes – κατολοφύρομαι – which was written in 408 BC. It’s particularly interesting, because it includes music for both voice and instrumental accompaniment. That’s quite unusual! This work is a lament on Orestes’s fate:

These are just a few examples. There’s quite a rabbit-hole of fine music from Ancient Greece if you go digging for it. I look forward to seeing what else you post, Minoh Workshop, and everyone else in this thread!