From the Library: Ancient Journeys

In today’s pro­gramme, we’ll be tak­ing a musi­cal jour­ney through ancient worlds, from Greece and Rome, to the Amer­i­c­as, the South Pacif­ic, Antar­ti­ca – and even the Moon.

The music today is inspired by the so-called Piri Reis Map (frag­ment shown above), com­piled in 1513 by the Ottoman sea-cap­tain Had­ji Muhid­din Piri Ibn Had­ji Mehmed from a num­ber of sources includ­ing a map cre­at­ed by Christo­pher Colum­bus. It was dis­cov­ered in the Library of the Top­kapi Palace in Istan­bul, where it remains today, in 1929. It shows a great many parts of the world in unusu­al­ly high (though not the high­est) detail for the peri­od, includ­ing the East­ern coast of South Amer­i­ca. Only part of the map is still extant.

It has been sug­gest­ed that the map shows the coast of Antar­ti­ca as it would be with­out any ice-cov­er, and thus it has been con­jec­tured that the map was based on pre­vi­ous charts cre­at­ed by some advanced pre-Clas­si­cal civil­i­sa­tion. In fact it’s more like­ly that it’s the coast of South Amer­i­ca bent round to fit the parch­ment.

The map sug­gest­ed itself as an inspi­ra­tion for today’s music, as a result of dis­cov­er­ing some music about the map-mak­er (writes Elrik Mer­lin). The oth­er week I heard my col­league Edward Pearse (who does the Fri­day show) play­ing a stun­ning piece of sym­phon­ic sound­track-like music from an out­fit called E S Posthu­mus. They turn out to be a pair of broth­ers based in LA, Hel­mut and Franz Von­licht­en (Franz sad­ly died ear­li­er this year), with three albums and some sin­gles to their name, and some major TV and film trail­er themes. One of their albums is called Car­tog­ra­ph­er. It’s inspired by the myths sur­round­ing Piri Reis’s map, and we’ll be fea­tur­ing it today. It includes lyrics that sound Ital­ian or Latin but may in fact be a vocal melis­ma like that found in Karl Jenk­in­s’s Adiemus albums, where words are used for their sound rather than their mean­ing. (And as we’re tak­ing an extend­ed voy­age today, we’ll be hear­ing his Imag­ined Oceans today too.)

We will also touch the shores of Antar­ti­ca with Vaugh­an Williams, ancient South Amer­i­ca with Cus­co, the South Pacif­ic with Jalan Jalan, the Sev­en Won­ders of the Ancient World with Stu­art Mitchell, and the land of the Cathars with Chris­t­ian Sales. We’ll even vis­it the Moon with both Lau­rie John­son and Mannheim Steam­roller, and dis­cov­er ancient peo­ples with Hans Zim­mer. And, of course, a great deal more. The music is large­ly, but not exclu­sive­ly, instru­men­tal, with con­ven­tion­al and elec­tron­ic instru­men­ta­tion. We do hope you enjoy the jour­ney.

And don’t for­get to join us for the final instal­ments of our two cur­rent ZBS radio seri­als in the ZBS Radio Hour at 11am and 7pm Pacif­ic (7pm and 3am UK time).

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin and pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with our friends at the Alexan­dri­an Free Library Con­sor­tium of Sec­ond Life. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at http://main.radioriel.org, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link: http://loudcity.com/stations/radio-riel/tune_in

For more infor­ma­tion on the Alexan­dri­an Free Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Con­sor­tium mem­bers in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Alexan­dri­an Free Library web­site, or one of their branch­es in-world.

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