Do you long to hear the dulcet sounds of the salpinx, barbiton, aulos or the syrinx?   Of course not, because no one has heard them in centuries.   Most people have never even heard of them.

But you will soon have the chance to experience musical instruments familiar to ancient civilizations but long since forgotten.

Ancient instruments probably got lost because they were too difficult to build or too difficult to play.    The ASTRA (Ancient instruments Sound/Timbre Reconstruction Application) team is tasked with bringing them back to life and already have successfully reconstructed the sound of an earlier instrument called the 'epigonion'.

Using physical modeling synthesis and computer modeling and grid technology, the shared resources of a distributed network of hundreds of computers, ASTRA is working on a whole host of other lost instruments including the salpinx (a kind of ancient trumpet), the barbiton (an ancient bass guitar), the aulos (an ancient oboe) and the syrinx (a pan flute).

The ancient instruments are to be heard soon, after the organization’s official Lost Sounds Orchestra finishes its preparations for a unique performance towards the end of summer.

ASTRA’s Lost Sounds Orchestra is like any other orchestra, with real musicians, rehearsals and performances, but its goal is to offer its audience a completely new kind of music - by going back to the really old kind.

Can't wait?   Here is the epigonion playing the Scarlatti Sonata in D Minor (click little arrow and the player comes up).

The sounds of the barbiton and the salpinx are currently being finalized, while a guitar player is familiarizing himself with both the epigonion and the barbiton using aspecially adapted electric MIDI guitar which has been programmed with the lost sounds. The sounds of even more instruments, such as an ancient lower Mediterranean frame drum, should also be completed by the end of summer.

barbiton ancient bass guitar ASTRA Lost Sounds Orchestra
Long forgotten instruments get the modern treatment.   Image courtesy Luca Petrella  

More:  The Lost Sounds Orchestra