A New Music Instrument from Ancient Times: Modern Reconstruction of the Greek Lyre of Hermes using 3D Laser Scanning, Advanced Computer Aided Design and Audio Analysis

The current paper proposes a unique approach by examining the ancient Greek literature and antique black figure amphorae’s representations (also known as melanomorpha) for the reconstruction, after digital design processing, of a modern top-quality replica of an ancient tortoise lyre. Through the review of certain ancient Greek documents, the observation of the amphorae’s relevant representations, 3D scanning and reverse engineering as well as 3D design using advanced Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, this study illustrates the detailed drawings and the fabrication procedures followed for a modern version of the ancient musical instrument. By using only materials available in antiquity such as specific kinds of wood, tortoise carcasses and sheep strings, as well as modern carpentry technology, a high-quality musical instrument was produced suited for use by today’s professional musicians. Two variations were produced and tested utilizing the Phrygian and Lydian ancient Greek music scales in a specialized unechoic chamber, in order to define their sound properties. Typical statistics were computed in the frequency domain such as spectral centroid, spectral standard deviation, spectral skewness, spectral kurtosis along with spectral rolloff and spectral smoothness in order to justify the lyres’ quality as musical instruments. The result was a prototype music product using advanced 3D design procedures that can be produced in a rather repeatable manner.