Ascension of the Lyre

by Michael Levy

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Sergey Lenkov
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Sergey Lenkov Probably the first ever album which fuses authentic Ancient world sounds and music with ambient.
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ASCENSION OF THE LYRE

The revolutionary vision of this album, is to literally ascend the lyre from its current status as a long-forgotten museum relic, giving it a new voice for the modern musical world. This album embarks upon a psychedelic musical odyssey through the solar system and beyond, in an attempt to evoke the music of our far distant future...

Whenever we finally establish the first brave colonists on Mars, besides seeking their survival, they must also seek a new cultural identity - and what defines our cultural identity more than anything else, is MUSIC!

It was the dawn of the visionary new space race between NASA and Elon Musk's Spacex, to send mankind to Mars by the 2030's, which was one of the main factors which inspired me to create "Ascension of the Lyre". Music has always been the 'invisible baggage' people have always taken with them, whenever they settle in strange new lands - right from biblical times, as that timeless psalm recounts, when the exiled Jews hung their lyres on a willow by the rivers of Babylon whilst they wept remembering Zion, to the first Scots/Irish Appalachian settlers, who brought with them, the wealth of their traditional fiddle melodies - the first colonists of Mars will one day soon, surely do the same!

Just as in the thought provoking TV series "Mars", where fittingly, the ancient emmer wheat grains cultivated at the dawn of civilisation were chosen as the first crops to be grown for the first colonists on Mars, my idea of using the recreated lyre, the ancient musical instrument most closely associated with the dawn of human civilisations on Earth, is equally as fitting for the choice of what could be the first iconic 'interplanetary musical instrument' of mankind, as we soon set out to form our first interplanetary civilisation on Mars...I just hope that the first Martian colonists may someday be listening to my music in their habitat modules!

This album fulfills the primary objective of my musical mission - to ascend the iconic lyre of our ancient past into what may one day become, the musical instrument of our distant future, wherever in the solar system and beyond our descendants may one day find themselves...

The title of this highly experimental album features a pun on the ancient Greek legend of the ascension of Orpheus from the Underworld (as depicted on the album cover - the most famous lyre player in the literature of classical antiquity) and my musical mission in this album, to literally ascend the lyre from its previous status as a dusty, long-forgotten ancient museum relic; onto a new musical journey into the 21st century and beyond.

I attempt this almost Herculean feat, by literally creating for my recreated lyres of antiquity, a new voice, by transforming their ancient timbres with a host of contemporary studio effects to evoke instead, the music of our distant future - capable of both evoking cosmic visions of strange and distant worlds and bestowing upon the enlightened listener, an eerie sense of higher consciousness.

This extended length LP album features a selection of some of my personal favourite tracks from my previous former experimental EP length releases, "21st Century Lyre Music", "Alien Harp - Music from an Alternate Universe" & "Improvisations for Contemporary Lyre at 432 Hz", meticulously remastered with cutting-edge LANDR audio-mastering technology.

Many of the 'cosmic' themes of the tracks featured on this album were actually inspired by the Star Trek character Spock's 'Vulcan Harp'. This album is therefore hopefully a fitting tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy - the desired result being to illustrate that the lyre of antiquity also has the hidden magic to transport the listener to the distant future as well as the ancient past, a 'musical spaceship' to take the listener on a fantasy voyage to the tapestry of strange, alien landscapes of the planets and moons of our solar system and on into an exploration of the mystery of the universe and mind.

Sadly, the wonderful classical lyre of antiquity fell into disuse and eventually oblivion at the end of the Dark Ages in the West, not replaced by the harp, but by the increasing preference and development of the fretted lute family of instruments, leading eventually to the evolution of the modern guitar and in modern times, the electric guitar, which was to become part of the very fabric of modern popular music we know today.

However, imagine an "Alternate Universe" - where instead, the preference may have been for the timeless lyre and as a consequence, all of the fiendish fretted lute family were the musical instruments which vanished from the musical map of the 21st century! Imagining such an "Alternate Universe", the classical lyre would have continued to have evolved, including the dawn of electric lyres (which would have become as familiar in popular music as the guitar is on our own, much poorer Universe!) What would the lyre have sounded like, then, if it had continued to develop into our present century?

In this new experimental album, therefore, it has been my aim to transport the forgotten lyre of antiquity into the 21st century musical experience and way beyond, using a selection of some of the very same effects which have made the electric guitar so popular. In such an alternate Universe, I wonder if the late great Jimi Hendrix would have also been inspired to set fire to the lyre?

Sit back, and enjoy your cosmic, transcendental, psychedelic musical journey to an alternate universe of sound!

credits

released September 16, 2014

Special thanks to harpist, Rebecca Penkett who so skilfully accompanied my extended length improvisation for track 12 on the album, “Ascension of the Lyre".

Special thanks also, to my friend Barbara Magic, for her invaluable inspiration in conjuring up the incredibly apt title of this album and to my fellow rare breed of modern-day lyre composer/performers, Leigh Cobley and Antonio Fernández Blázquez for their help in the final editing process!

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Michael Levy UK

Michael Levy is a multi-talented musician & prolific composer, who since 2006, has focused his unique skills, at both intensively researching & recreating the ancient playing-techniques of the lyres of antiquity.

He has independently produced almost 30 albums of ancient lyre music since 2008...
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