The ASTRA project, standing for Ancient instruments Sound/Timbre Reconstruction Application, has revived an instrument that hasn’t been played or heard in centuries.
image: Epigonion’s closest relative, a psaltery. This musical instrument is the epigonion’s direct decendant and was played in the same way, plucked or hammered. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain Image)
Using the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE infrastructure for computing power, a team based in Salerno and Catania, Italy, has reconstructed the “epigonion,” a harp-like, stringed instrument used in ancient Greece. With data from numerous sources, including pictures on urns, fragments from excavations and written descriptions, the team has been able to model what the instrument would have looked and sounded like.
Their model has become sophisticated enough to be used by musicians of the Conservatories of Music of Salerno and Parma in concerts.
The idea and mathematical concepts behind this work is several decades old, the first attempts being made in 1971. Now with grid technology these researchers have the required computing power to recreate an ancient instrument that would previously have been too expensive and too difficult to manufacture by hand. Using grid computing also means that the data used and discovered during the research is easily available to other researchers, such as archaeologists and historians. …
The ASTRA project will be demonstrating the epigonion at this week’s EGEE User Forum, 2-6 March 2009, Catania, Italy. People will be able to listen to the reconstructed instrument and play it using a MIDI keyboard. The demonstration will also allow visitors to run real reconstruction on the grid. A professional musician will play ancient scores on the epigonion.