Music has a long history, dating back to the dawn of time. Archaeologists have discovered 43,000-year-old bone and ivory flutes, and it’s possible that many ancient musical forms have been perpetuated through oral traditions. The first music ever discovered dates back to 800 BCE and was a religious song. The first vocals accompanied by musical instruments were recorded around 700 BCE.
The ‘Hurrian Hymn No. 6′ is thought to be the world’s oldest melody, although the oldest complete musical composition is from the first century A.D. The ‘Seikilos Epitaph’ is a Greek melody. The hymn was discovered inscribed on an old marble column in Turkey that was used to mark the tomb of a woman. An inscription reads, “I am a tombstone, an image.” Modern musicians and researchers have been able to replicate Seikilos Epitaph’s sorrowful melodies note-for-note thanks to the well-preserved inscriptions.
There have also been various attempts to decrypt and play “Hurrian Hymn No. 6,” but no definitive version exists due to problems in deciphering its old tablets. In 2009, Syrian composer Malek Jandali sang the old hymn with a full orchestra, which became one of the most popular renditions.
The hymn text is inscribed in a continuous spiral on the tablet, alternating the recto and verso sides a layout not found in Babylonian texts. It’s also likely that the music changed the pronunciation of some words from normal speech. Despite the numerous problems, it is clearly a religious text relating to offerings to the goddess Nikkal, the moon god’s wife.