From childhood Dr. Rafael Pérez Arroyo has been fascinated by the aesthetics, the architecture and the art of Ancient Egypt. This has led to his project Music in the Age of the Pyramids, the result of a long research process begun in 1992 with the collaboration of Syra Bonet. The first stage started with the recompilation of the relevant studies and technical articles published on this topic. This was followed by research carried out between 1997 and 1999 in Egypt. It included the study of Ancient Egyptian musical instruments conserved in different museums, especially the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and in European collections. The third stage involved the examination in situ of the music reliefs conserved in Egyptian mastabas and tombs. Fourthly, an analysis was made of the Ancient Egyptian literary sources, the folklore of the Nile Valley, Coptic liturgical music and the Greek writers.

During the research more than 4000 photographs of instruments and reliefs were taken, hundreds of millimetric plans and drawings made, and information collected through digital recordings of the folklore and popular instruments of the Nile Valley, particularly in the Western Oases and in Nubia. Replicas were also made of some of the instruments conserved in museums in order to observe their performance characteristics and sound qualities. The most important of these were the reconstructions, based on fragments conserved in museums and on the detailed iconography, of two Old Kingdom curved harps. (Thanks to sponsorship from Sony España).


La Música en la era de las pirámides
Madrid 2001
Editorial: Centro de Estudios Egipcios

First Prize 2002, awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport to the Best Scientific Book. Available in both English and Spanish editions. Hardcover clothbound, 495 pages on couché matte paper, 24 x 30 cm, with 108 photographs and 104 illustrations.

The first volume of this work on the music, the musicians, the culture, the iconography, the dance and the musical instruments of the Predynastic Period and the Old Kingdom discovers the importance of music in Ancient Egypt and its relationship with the arts, the science and the thinking of those times. It also reveals the possible influence of Ancient Egyptian music on the Greek theorists and on Western and Middle Eastern liturgical chant.

Many of the photographs are of previously unpublished objects, instruments and music reliefs. The 104 high-quality drawings give millimetric plans of the Pharaonic musical instruments used 5000 years ago and also reproduce virtually all the music scenes found in the necropolises of Giza, Sakkara and in the provinces.

Included for the first time ever are a glossary of Old Kingdom music terms and a selection of thirty hymns from the Pyramid Texts, reflecting their different musical forms: recitational, antiphonal, responsorial and alleluia. They are presented in hieroglyphic script, together with a transliteration and translation made by José María de Diego Muñiz.

The international presentation of the English edition of the book Music in the Age of the Pyramids took place at 7.30pm on 26 January 2004 in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo and, exceptionally, for the first time in the Main Hall of the museum. The event was chaired by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary-General of the Higher Council of Antiquities and it was attended by the Spanish Ambassador in Egypt, Don Pedro López Aguirrebengoa, Dr. Milad Hanna, senior staff from the British Museum in London and from the Metropolitan Museum in New York, personalities from the world of culture and the arts, and by the Egyptian and international media. The presentation was sponsored by the Spanish company Técnicas Reunidas, represented by its vice-president, Don Juan Lladó.

This first volume will be followed by others on music and dance in the later Ancient Egyptian periods.

Spanish version ISBN 84-932796 – 0 – 9
English versión ISBN 84-932796 – 1 – 7

Where to buy?
Librería El Argonauta
C/ Fernández de los Ríos, 50 28015 Madrid Telf.: 915 43 94 41


Music in the Age of the Pyramids
Natural Acoustic Recordings

The CD, Music in the Age of the Pyramids, the first in a series of recordings, represents the first attempt at a reconstruction of the music of Ancient Egypt.

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Librería El Argonauta
C/ Fernández de los Ríos, 50 28015 Madrid Telf.: 915 43 94 41

Also available in “La quinta de Mahler”

The research carried out by the musicologist Rafael Pérez Arroyo has led to the identification of a series of responsorial and antiphonal hymns within the body of Pharaonic liturgical texts. This, together with a precise phonetic reconstruction of the Ancient Egyptian language and the author’s detailed study of the legacy of Coptic and Ethiopian liturgical music, has made possible this first attempt at reconstructing the music of Ancient Egypt.

For the first time, replicas of ancient Pharaonic musical instruments reconstructed during the research were used in this recording. Among them are replicas of various flutes conserved in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, two Old Kingdom curved harps which vanished 4000 years ago (reconstructed thanks to sponsorship from Sony España), clappers (the forerunners of castanets), frame drums, rattles and handclapping groups.

All of this has resulted in a recording of great beauty which recreates the sounds of the Ancient Egyptian scales and the meditative nature of a repertoire unrevealed until today. It is performed by the Hathor Ensemble, conducted by Rafael Pérez Arroyo.

The Hathor Ensemble, formed by Rafael Pérez Arroyo to perform repertoires of ancient music, is comprised of singers and instrumentalists of different nationalities: Bulgarian, Chinese, Spanish, Georgian, Japanese and Russian. These musicians come from places where there is continued use of particular tuning methods, ancient vocal techniques, and percussion, wind and string instruments similar to those used in antiquity. The ensemble, under the direction of Rafael Pérez Arroyo, offers a unique quality of musical performance perfectly suited to this type of millenary music.

Replicas of ancient Pharaonic musical instruments reconstructed during the research are used for the first time in this performance, together with handclapping rhythm groups and the phonetic reconstruction of the Ancient Egyptian language in the vocal repertoires from the different periods. The philologist José María de Diego Muñiz provided this phonetic reconstruction. Particularly interesting are two Old Kingdom curved harps which vanished 4000 years ago (reconstructed thanks to sponsorship from Sony España, S. A.), various flutes conserved in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, clappers (the forerunners of castanets), frame drums and rattles


Hathor Ensemble

Members of the ensemble:

Yang Yang Deng, Helia Martínez, Marta Bornaechea, Marina Makhmoutova, Marta Infante, Miren Astui, Daniela Vladimirova, Esperanza García-Salmones, Miguel Bernal, Javier Rodríguez

Instrumentalists :
Harpists: Yoshie Sakai, Noemí Martínez,
Pharaonic flute : Juan Carlos Gómez Delgado
Argul: Xavi Lozano Percusión: Pedro Estevan, Sergei Saprytcheff, David Mayoral
Palmas: Cristina Villaplana, María Martín, Cecilia Lizcano, Begoña Castro, Locución: Estela Aranda