The lyre made of horse skull and silver

«According to Vitruvius, if you want to do well in architecture, you must have some knowledge of both music and drawing.»

– Benvenuto Cellini.


«Avvenne che morto Giovan Galeazzo duca di Milano e creato Lodovico Sforza nel grado medesimo l’anno 1494, fu condotto a Milano con gran riputazione Lionardo al Duca, il quale molto si dilettava del suono de la lira, perché sonasse: e Lionardo portò quello strumento [lira da braccio], ch’egli aveva di sua mano fabricato d’argento gran parte in forma d’un teschio di cavallo, cosa bizzarra e nuova, acciò ché l’armonia fosse con maggior tuba e più sonora di voce, laonde superò tutti i musici, che quivi erano concorsi a sonare.»  – Vasari,  Le vite de’ piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, et architettori.



Pan flute

Pre-Columbian Colima 4-Chamber Flute

Sound is produced by the vibration of an air-stream blowing across an open hole at the end of a resonating tube. The length of the tube determines the fundamental frequency.

The pan flute’s tubes are stopped at one end, at which the standing wave is reflected giving a note an octave lower than that produced by an open pipe of equal length. In the traditional South American style, pipes are fine-tuned to correct pitch by placing small pebbles or dry corn kernels into the bottom of the pipes. Contemporary makers of curved Romanian-style panpipes use wax (commonly beeswax) to tune new instruments. Special tools are used to place or remove the wax. Corks and rubber stoppers are also used, and are easier to quickly tune pipes.

Syrinx (Σύριγξ) was a forest Nymph, who was turned into a cane-reed to hide from Pan’s amorous intentions. Then, Pan cut several reeds, he placed them in parallel one next to the other, bound them together and made a melodic musical instrument. Ancient Greeks called this instrument syrinx, in honour of the Muse, and pan-flute, after Pan.

Pan’s angry shout inspired panic (panikon deima) in lonely places. The god claimed credit for victory in battle because he frightened the attackers, inspiring panic in the hearts of the enemies.

Pan’s greatest conquest was that of the moon goddess Selene. He accomplished this by wrapping himself in a sheepskin to hide his hairy black goat form, and drew her down from the sky into the forest where he seduced her.

The Romans adopted the flute form of the Etruscans, who called it fistula.
The Greek syrinx had uniform length pipes while the Etruscan and Roman fistula, had the pipes of varying lengths arranged in steps.

While the syrinx was predominantly associated with pastoral environments, the fistula was also played indoors at banquets and religious ceremonies of sacrifices and libations, sometimes accompanied with the lyre or brass instruments. The pipe and brass combination was popular in funeral processions.


“Ciocârlia” (“Skylark”), played by Fănică Luca (1894 – 1968). This work originated from Romanian folk music. In the 19th century it was associated with Ciprian Porumbescu (1853 – 1883), who may have arranged it, and the violinist Angheluș Dinicu (1838 – 1905), who popularized it. By the early 20th century, it had become emblematic of Romania, when George Enescu (1881 – 1955) used it in his Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, and Gigoraş Dinicu (1889 – 1949), grandson of Angheluș, arranged it for violin.

It also seems to be evocated in Kusturica’s movie intro, “Kalašnjikov”, by Goran Bregović.

The natural harmony willed by the melody

«Bird Song – Paul Dukas used to say, ‘Listen to the birds. They are great masters.’ I confess not to having awaited this advice to admire, analyse, and notate, some songs of birds. Through the mixture of their songs, birds make extremely refined jumbles of rhythmic pedals. Their melodic contours, those of merles especially, surpass the human imagination in fantasy. Since they use untempered intervals smaller then the semitone, and as it is ridiculous servilely to copy nature, we are going to give some examples of melodies of the ‘bird’ genre which will be transcription, transformation, and interpretation of the volleys and trills of our little servants of immaterial joy.» (p. 34)

«Paul Dukas often spoke of effects of resonance. Effects of pure fantasy, similar by a very distant analogy to the phenomenon of natural resonance. One will find remarkable ones, mingled with learned variations of rhythm, in the Danses rituelles and especially in the Mana of André Jolivet.» (p. 51)

«All these investigations ought not make us forget the natural harmony: the true, unique, voluptuously pretty by essence, willed by the melody, issued from it, pre-existent in it, having always been enclosed in it, awaiting manifestation. My secret desire of enchanted gorgeousness in harmony has pushed me toward those swords of fire, those sudden stars, those flows of blue-orange lavas, those planets of turquoise, those violet shades, those garnets of long-haired arborescence, those wheelings of sound and colors in a jumble of rainbows of which I have spoken with love in the Preface of my Quatuor pour la fin du Temps; such a gushing out of chords should necessarily be filtered; it is the sacred instinct of the natural and true harmony which, alone, can so charge itself». (p.52)

Olivier Messiaen, “Technique of My Musical Language”.

Uma canção que não pára

O oitavo sorriso

Como toda a gente sabe,
há várias raças de sorriso:

– O sorriso do abutre
que espera, paciente;

– O sorriso do camelo
que marcha lentamente;

– O sorriso da hiena,
mais riso que sorriso,
tão riso sem sorriso,
que faz pena;

– Há o sorriso do gato,
de expressão tão indiferente,
que parece rir da gente;

– E há o sorriso do cão,
que é só um lamber de mão;

– E há o sorriso da raposa,
que não diz sim nem diz não,
e ninguém sabe onde pousa;

– E o sorriso do costume,
que é sorriso ou é queixume;

– Há ainda o teu sorriso,
que com nada se parece,
que é um espelho puro e liso
de uma alma que se oferece,
que é como a água do mar
numa noite de luar,
que é uma estrela cintilante,
que é chamamento distante,
que é despertar de papoila,
que é cantar de seara,
que é um refrão melodioso
de uma canção que não pára,
que é carícia de vento,
que é nostálgico lamento,
que é grito de alegria,
que é dor de natureza,
que é um olhar de criança,
que é o desespero da esperança,
que é toda a minha riqueza,
que é toda a minha tristeza…

– Perspectiva, álbum “Rei Posto, Rei Morto” (1977). Letra: José Beiramar. Direcção de orquestra: Tó Pinheiro da Silva.