Overheard at National Geographic podcast

Playback: Ancient Orchestra

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Sound on! From conch shells to bone flutes, humans have been making musical instruments for tens of thousands of years. What did prehistoric music sound like? In an episode originally published in November 2021, follow us on a journey to find the oldest musical instruments and combine them into one big orchestra of human history. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want More? A conch is more than just a musical instrument. A mollusk lives in that shell, and it’s a staple food in the Bahamas—so much so that overfishing is threatening their existence, but a few simple solutions may solve the problem. The oldest musical instrument was once thought to be a cave bear bone flute made by Neanderthals, but recent evidence suggests that the holes were made by animals rather than tools. More information about each instrument: The organization First Sounds found and brought to life the recordings of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. Head to their website to learn more about that project. Bettina Joy de Guzman travels the world, composing and performing music on ancient instruments. You can read more about her work on her website. More information about the bells of Bronze Age China can be found at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art. Check out a virtual version of their collection.  The conch shell sounds you heard were research recordings of the approximately 3,000-year-old Titanostrombus galeatus conch shell horn—excavated in 2018 by John Rick and a team from the UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site Chavín de Huántar, in Perú. You can read more about that research at the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Acoustics project website. National Geographic Explorer Jahawi Bertolli is collecting the sounds of rock gongs from all over the African continent. Learn more about his rock project on Jahawi’s website. Flutist Anna Potengowski specializes in recreating the sounds of ancient flutes. You can hear more of her work on her Spotify page. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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