Music in the Age of the Pyramids

Music in the Age of the Pyramids / La Musique au Temps des Pyramides / Die Musik im Zeitalter der Pyramides
Ensemble Hathor - Rafael Pérez Arroyo, dir.
Natural Acoustic Recordings NAR 0010-01 [CD - English digipack]
Natural Acoustic Recordings NAR 0011-02 [CD - French / German digipack]


  1. Welcome to ancient Egypt
  2. Hymn 567 from the pyramids text
  3. Dance of Iba (masataba of Idou and Antéfoker)
  4. Hymn to seven Hathor (Denderah temple)
  5. Hymn 573 from the pyramids text
  6. Couple dance
  7. Hymn 510 from the pyramids text
  8. The three seasons (Ashet)
  9. Denderah 2002. Hymn for a procession for Hathor
  10. The palace is beautiful

Playing time: 58' 34"

Ensemble Hathor [Helia Martinez (voice), Yang Yang Deng (voice), Marta Bornaechea (voice), Marina Makhmoutova (voice), Marta Infante (voice), Miren Astui (voice), Daniela Vladimirova (voice), Esperanza Garcia-Salmones (voice), Yoshie Sakai (voice, pharaonic harp), Miguel Bernal (voice), Javier Rodriguez (voice), Noemi Martinez (pharaonic harp) Juan Carlos Gomez Delgado (pharaonic flute), Xavi Lozano (double-clarinet "arghul"), Pedro Estevan (percussion), Sergei Saprytcheff (percussion), David Mayoral (percussion), Cristina Villaplana (handclapping), Martia Martin (handclapping), Cecilia Lizcano (handclapping), Begoña Castro (handclapping), Estela Aranda (recitation)]-Rafael Pérez Arroyo, dir.

Recording site and date:
Church San Francisco de Silos, Silos & Digital Records Studio, Madrid
March-October 2001

Reviewed in:
Diapason (#-p.):
Gramophone (Vol./#-p.):
Fanfare (Vol./#-p.):
Goldberg (#-p.):

Information from owned CD (NAR 011-02); Goldberg Vol. 18, p. 4 & 71 & François Rémond.
In collaboration with Syra Bonet, the musicologist Rafael Pérez Arroyo, former director of Sony Hispánica collection, has just released the first fruit of his many years of research into the music of Ancient Egypt. The result is a spectacular and luxuriously edited book of some 500 pages entitled Music in the Age of Pyramids. It is the first of a planned series of four. The first book comes with a CD of the same name (it is also available separately) performed by Hathor Ensemble, a group directed by Rafael Pérez Arroyo himself (from Goldberg "news").

Pierre-F. Roberge

Note first of all that Arroyo composed this music himself. It is not based upon surviving notation. His study has obviously been very extensive however: Metric structure of hymns which survive in writing, whatever discussion of music theory he could find, sonic descriptions by ancient authors, iconography, etc. He believes he has detected a partial chironomy (hand gestures, the same source claimed for Biblical music), and discovered three basic modes for Ancient Egyptian music. This leaves the sense that some "shell" of Ancient Egyptian music has been unearthed, but no real music. Arroyo establishes a pentatonic basis, and sometimes uses Coptic hymns for the music.

Arroyo also makes many claims regarding Ancient Egypt's musical influence on other cultures. While his correlations with known symbology in e.g. Indian & China are certainly worth considering, I personally find his claims to causality to be over-stretching.

Hopefully these personal remarks are helpful by way of knowing what to expect from the recording.

Other recordings also claiming to partially recreate Ancient Egyptian music:

Music of the Ancient Sumerians, Egyptians and Greeks
De Organographia
Pandourion 1005
Ankh: The Sound of Ancient Egypt
Michael Atherton
Celestial Harmonies 13174 [CD]
Ancient Egypt
Ali Jihad Racy
Lyrichord 7347 [LP]
Lyrichord 7347 [CD]

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Todd M. McComb