Biµt Enki

Professor Richard L. Crocker (left) a musicologist at the University of California at Berkeley, who worked on stringing and tuning the lyres built by Professor Robert R. Brown, plays a replica of the c. 2600 B.C. Silver Lyre from Ur. Professor Anne Draffkorn Kilmer holds a replica of the c. 1400 B.C. Megiddo lyre. Professor Kilmer sings the Hurrian Cult Song to the accompaniment of Professor Crocker, who plays the Megiddo lyre in the Biµt Enki recording, “Sounds from Silence.”

Professor Brown constructed the frame of the Silver Lyre’s replica from red birch and its sound box from spruce. The strings, which he made from animal gut, pass over a bridge on the sound board and are fastened to a cleat under the sound box. At the top of the lyre, the strings are wrapped around the crossbar where oaken pegs act as levers for twisting the string around the crossbar. In this way, the strings can be tightened or loosened to permit fine tuning.

The Megiddo Lyre (right) is based on an ivory panel drawing dating to 1350–1250 B.C., and was found at Megiddo, an ancient city in northern Israel. The 60 by 70 cm. Megiddo lyre replica also built by Professor Brown is made of red birch and spruce, and has a higher register than the Silver Lyre because its strings are shorter. It is more likely that the cult song would have been sung with an instrument similar to the Megiddo Lyre since that lyre is closer in time and place to the Hurrian hymn than is the Silver Lyre.