The 3400 year old hymn, is the oldest known fragment of noted music so far discovered in history. It was created by an anonymous Hurrian artist in 1400 BC. and dedicated to the goddess of orchards.
At the time, the Armenians from the region of Van were known to their Hittite and Assyrian neighbors as the Hurri / Harri. The iron age Armenian kingdom of Urartu / Ararat is considered to be the continuation of the earlier Hurrian kingdoms. One such kingdom was that of the late Bronze Age kingdom of Mittani (the Biblical Aram-Naharaim, meaning “Aram of two rivers”). Another Hurrian kingdom was called Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu). Jacquetta Hawkes in her book ‘The First Great Civilizations’ writes of it:
“Yet the Hurrians did not disappear from history. Away to the North in their Armenian homeland, they entrenched themselves and build up the kingdom of Urartu.”
Hurrians along with Urartians (to the Persians already known as the Armenians) are considered to be the direct ancestors of modern Armenians. According to Diakonoff, the present-day Armenians are therefore an amalgam of the Hurrians and Urartians. According to Dr. Johannes Lehman in his book ‘The Hittites’, all indications point toward the general region of Armenia as a main area of Hurrian concentration.
Several recent genetic studies support these conclusions by showing a direct genetic continuation of modern Armenians to their ancestors c. 4000 years ago. To read more about the Hurrians, visit: http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Hurrians
This Hurrian Hymn (catalogued as Text H6) was originally discovered in Ugarit, in northern Syria, in the early 1950s, and was preserved for 3400 years on a clay tablet, written in the cuneiform text of the ancient Hurrian language. The tablet h.6 contains the lyrics for a hymn to a goddess Nikkal and instructions for a singer accompanied by a nine-stringed sammûm, a type of harp or, much more likely, a lyre. One or more of the tablets also contains instructions for tuning the harp.
Although about 29 musical texts were discovered at Ugarit, only this text, (text H6), was in a sufficient state of preservation to allow for modern academic musical reconstruction. While several reconstructions exist, the current arrangement, is based on the original transcription of the melody, as interpreted by Prof. Richard Dumbrill. Here is a link to the sheet music, as arranged by Clint Goss: http://www.clintgoss.com/flutopedia.com/pdf/HurrianTabLtd.pdf
The above melody is performed by Michael Levy on a Lyre. The Cuneiform text clearly indicated specific names for lyre strings, and their respective musical intervals – a sort of “Guitar tablature”, for lyre. More of his work can be found on his website: http://www.ancientlyre.com/
Another beautiful performance of this hymn I was able to find on YouTube belonging to Brayden Olson.