The Slovenia Times

The Sounds of Prehistory



The idea for this one-of-a-kind event came from the Confucius Institute in Ljubljana which is part of the Faculty of economics and it is going to mark its first anniversary of existence along with the 12th anniversary of the signing of the diplomatic agreement between Slovenia and China. "The Institute aims to bring Chinese culture closer to Slovenians. We wanted to organise something truly unique to connect the two countries," explains the president of the board at the Institute Dušan Mramor.

And the two concerts, one held in Maribor and the other one in Ljubljana, are surely going to be remarkable events since the two performing musicians are going to play on ancient instruments and thus offer entirely new sounds to the ears, reviving the music of the very distant past. The science that takes special interest in the sounds of the past is called archaeomusicology or musical archaeology. "It is part of the ethnomusicology and a blend of various approaches," says an expert on the subject professor Svanibor Pettan. He has studied the 60,000 years old Divje Babe flute for years, putting his efforts to prove it is the oldest instrument in the world made by the Neanderthal since the archaeological artefact has been subject to discussions whether it was just a cave bear's femur randomly pierced by an animal or really something more. "I've presented the arguments at the world symposium of archaeomusicologists in China last year with the multi-talented artist Dimkaroski who has explored the find since 2009 with greatest passion," Pettan adds.

Distant yet similar

Through his devoted study Dimkaroski discovered a special technique of blowing the flute and can now play entire melodies on it. In his opinion the event means recognition of the fact that the find really is an instrument: "It is a great honour for me to be the Divje Babe flautist. The flute for which I coined the name Tidldibab allows me full musical expression." He demonstrated the playing on it on the previously mentioned symposium where also Liu Zhengguo, a Chinese musician and university professor, was present. He wanted to try play the flute and with his knowledge of ancient playing techniques he instantly succeeded.

Zhengguo is a virtuoso on guyue, the Chinese ancient wind instrument made of crane bones and for Dimkaroski he was an obvious choice for joining him on the stage. The flute he plays and is also going to present in Slovenia is 9,000 years old and he is amazed by the fact that "the ancient bone flutes from two extremely distant countries sound so similar." Its seven tones enable him to play a perfect melody and in it is one of the most precious archaeolomusical finds in the world. Besides guyue, he is going to play on reed pipe welyue and the cylindrical flute chuilü too. "It is amazing that the Slovenian flute requite the same technique of playing as guyue. This must have a deeper meaning," points out Zhengguo who is coming to Slovenia for the first time and is very excited about it.

An exceptional event

The event is also politically significant and, according to Mramor "is very important for closer economic and broader social links between the two countries." But in the first place the concert is going to be a distinctive opportunity for Slovenians to learn about the Chinese cultural achievements and its instruments where the past and the present are going to merge. Pettan believes "it is going to be a musical treat where two exceptional instrumentalists from different cultural backgrounds are going to communicate through music" while Zhengguo hopes it is going to deepen the bilateral understanding and friendship. Bearing in mind the promise of the two musicians to play some Slovenian and Chinese national tunes on their instruments, it is by no means difficult to believe that a truly spectacular event well worth attending is about to happen.

More from Nekategorizirano