‘Lost’ music instrument recreated

By | June 1, 2009

Lituus being played (EPSRC)

Lituus being played (EPSRC)

New software has enabled researchers to recreate a long forgotten musical instrument called the Lituus.

The 2.7m (8.5ft) long trumpet-like instrument fell out of use some 300 years ago.

Bach’s motet (a choral musical composition) “O Jesu Christ, meins lebens licht” was one of the last pieces of music written for the Lituus.

Now, for the first time, this 18th Century composition has been played as it might have been heard.

Researchers from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the University of Edinburgh collaborated on the study.

Performed by the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (SCB) the Lituus produced a piercing trumpet-like sound interleaving with the vocals.

Until now, no one had a clear idea of what this instrument looked or sounded like. But there are several depictions of similar instruments being played throughout Europe for centuries.

Researchers at Edinburgh University developed a system that enabled them to design the Lituus from the best guesses of its shape and range of notes.

The result was a 2.7m (8.5ft) -long horn, with a flared bell at the end. …

It is an unwieldy instrument with a limited tonal range that is hard to play. But played well, it gives Johann Sebastian Bach’s motet a haunting feel that couldn’t be reproduced by modern instruments.

via BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | ‘Lost’ music instrument recreated.

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