Image Alt

University Lectures

A series of lectures specifically aimed at third level University Departments including Archaeology, Music, Celtic Studies and Arts.

Origins and evolvement of prehistoric instruments are discussed and reproductions are examined and played. Comparisons are made with contemporary and modern descendent instruments. A presentation may aim specifically at a given period e.g. Bronze Age or Iron Age or can cover an overview from the first habitation in Ireland circa 8,000 BC through to the early Medieval period 700 AD. Active participation by students is encouraged who are invited to play reproductions. Music students may have a natural affinity with certain instruments. A trombone player will be able to make a good attempt to play an Iron Age trumpet. The length of a lecture may vary between one and two hours, but usually will average one and a half hours.


For University Level Students

1. Introducing the module.
  1. discussing the beginnings of music in a world context.
  2. the evolvement of instrument types. e.g. whistle/flute strings, horns, percussion.
2. Origins of Irish Instruments
  1. bone and wooden whistles, animal horns from cattle, ram and goat.
  2. the landscape that made the music.
  3. deductions and comparisons that can be made from the cast instruments of the Bronze Age.
  4. making instruments from bone, wood, horn and skin.
3. Wicklow Pipes
  1. examination of film of the originals and a reproduction set of six. Note: The nature of tone generation has not yet been decided.
  2. were pipes played individually, as a musical group or together as a set. Experimenting with tone generators (e.g. fipples) to make them work in a musical way.
  3. establishing the number of notes that may be achieved and the musical accuracy.
  4. what relation, if any to modern music.

Note: The Wicklow pipes appear to be unique in both age and design. Serious questions are posed as to how they were made. This project would be the first theoretical and practical investigation undertaken in this field in a university setting.

4. Bronze Age horns and trumpets.

Papers to study.

  1. a full list of surviving horns and trumpets from Ireland and Britain. J. Coles 1964.
  2. a geographical distribution, providence, written record of finds. W.D. Wilde.
  3. original manufacturing methods. Casting without wax, casting with wax. P. Holmes, H.Lonze.
  4. four voices of the bronze horns of Ireland.
5. Reproduction of Bronze Age horns and Iron Age trumpets
  1. Horns and trumpets which have been made in modernity. S. O’Dwyer, H. Lonze and others.
  2. Making a horn. Clay mould, wax, proving bronze, finishing.

Note: Ancient Music Ireland will supply accurate information of originals including measurement, weight, detailed photography, film and previous experiences.

6. Learning to play
  1. learning circular breathing. This is essential to achieve the maximum from the instruments.
  2. audio and visual recordings related to this subject can be supplied to the University by Ancient Music Ireland.
  3. inviting proficient players to present and perform.

Note: Reproductions of the differing types of horns and trumpets representing Ireland and Britain can be supplied by Ancient Music Ireland to students for this purpose. Very little work has been done regarding multiple horn playing. Inspiration for this may be sought from traditional African horn groups.

7. Killyfaddy Four - Early Iron Age.
  1. to undertake a reconstruction of the surviving parts of this wooden Iron Age trumpet.
  2. visiting the National Museum of Ireland and examining the original. Measuring, weighing, photographing, filming as a group. Carving the tubes. Suggesting what may be missing with a view to making an operational trumpet.
8. Strings. Early Iron Age

The oldest part of a stringed instrument in Europe is a section of the bridge of a lyre from The Isle of Skye. J. Purser and G. Lawson.

9. Iron Age trumpets
  1. examining surviving examples of Iron Age trumpets from Ireland and Britain and those that have been lost in modernity. e.g. three Loughnashade trumpets.
  2. design and tuning. Note: It appears that the most accurate reproduction of the Loughnashade surviving instrument is specifically designed to play certain notes. Likelihood of this and reasons for it will be discussed
  3. acoustic properties related to shape; material used in the manufacture. Reference to The University of Edinburgh who have conducted acoustic experiments and testing on a reproduction under the guidance of M. Campbell.
  4. manufacturing in modernity. The making of sheet bronze, welding, riveting, repoussé.
  5. exploring if the shape of the trumpet was deliberately designed using mathematical properties. e.g. length and conical dimensions of tube. Relationship between the two. How critical the shape is in relation to the musical properties
10. River Erne horn 700 AD
  1. a detailed examination, measuring and reproduction of this instrument has been conducted by Ancient Music Ireland. The resulting photographs, film, reproduction process and a pair of playing horns can be made available to the University.
  2. a comprehensive examination of the illumination contained in the Vespasian Psalter, showing examples of identical horns. Other instruments, designs and references in the picture. Comparison with other contemporary books that feature illuminations of a musical nature.
11. Bekan horn (mayophone) 700 AD
  1. a study of audio, film, discussion of the original make by Ancient Music Ireland and R. Cameron.
  2. measuring method employed by R. Cameron with a practical reproduction example made by S. O’Dwyer and supplied by Ancient Music Ireland.
  3. type of tone generator, e.g. single or double reed.
  4. accuracy as related to the measurements of the original.

Tue ‒ Thu: 09am ‒ 07pm
Fri ‒ Mon: 09am ‒ 05pm

673 12 Constitution Lane Massillon
781-562-9355, 781-727-6090