An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Common Themes, East & West:

In Life, Lore, Ritual, & Science

The Piper of Mysteries
(Courtesy of Tradestone International)

This is MuSICA, or the "Music & Science Information Computer Archive," a marvelous resource:
... MuSICA Research Notes is a newsletter issued Winter, Spring and Fall, that provides reports and critical analysis of research on music and behavior, including education, child development, psychology, cognitive sciences, neuroscience, clinical medicine, music therapy and allied fields....
Months ago I happened to bookmark the link from MuSICA's Fall 1996 Issue. When I finally grokked it the autumn of 2000, I found excellent  papers on the role of music in memory and childhood learning.  For example, here are two titles: "Brain Coherence, Musicianship and Gender," and "Music Improves Reasoning in Preschool Children."  A link at the bottom took me to the home page where I discovered that this frequently updated site offers cutting edge data on the crucial significance of music.

Take a chance and explore the current issue as well as back issues.  This is a treasure, fully documented, exciting, sobering, inspiring.  And if you have children or grandchildren, or if you can muster any clout with your local school board, perhaps you'll push hard for music lessons after you spend some time here.
From's Parenting guide, Kimberly L. Keith, comes an excellent and lengthy page of web resources to valuable studies on "Music and Learning."
Dee Dickinson, a wise, passionate woman I met once at a Conference on the Grail, offers this report on "Learning Through the Arts."  She started a research organization, New Horizons for Learning, to study such issues as part of her longterm commitment to educational trajectories supported by film maker, George Lucas.  If you check the opening table of contents, you can go directly to a section specifically on music; the entire page, however, is both engrossing and greatly encouraging.
In the unending debate over the role of certain forms of contemporary music and adolescent violence, offers this page on "The Music/Violence Connection."  No conclusions are drawn but interesting issues are raised; links are also provided to additional resources.
This is "Essays in Sound," a rather odd page, probably geared for a more specialized and sophisticated audience than I am.  I'll let the authors explain what they're doing and you can decide if it's worth a visit:
...This edition of Essays In Sound attempts to engage in the critical investigation of sound in its various modalities - ranging across fragmentary historical, technological, political and philosophical terrains.  Gathered around this tenuous title, these works do not assume any univocity, nor claim any thematic or doxa. Rather, they may momentarily harmonise, echo and interweave, or clamorously compete....

General Folk Music Sources

Listening...lost in memory...
(Courtesy of Tradestone International)
From Robert Szlizs comes this page rich in Hungarian folk music samples.  Enjoy!  (Note: this page is double-listed on my Hungarian page, where you'll find additional links to Hungarian as well as Roma [Gypsy] music.)
This is a 3-page series of enjoyable material on the Indian, Portuguese, and African "Roots of Brazilian Music."  It covers everything from indigenous music to samba and carnival.  There are excellent Real Audio sound clips throughout and also links that'll take you to more detailed information.
This is a handsome and truly marvelous site -- Lesley Nelson's "Folk Music of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and America."  Everytime you click on one of the songs, you get a midi file plus the lyrics plus Nelson's carefully researched historical information.  For lovers of folk music from the British Isles, the combination is terrific.
From the International Folk Culture Center at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas comes an excellent site, "The Virtual Museum of World Instruments." The countries include Germany, Hawaii, Mexico, the Ukraine, and Russia (the last two are annotated on my Russian Music page).
From the Zamir Chorale of Boston comes "Jewish Music--a select bibliography" -- it covers books & articles, journals, and recordings.  The scope is impressive.  (Note: nothing here is online -- this bibliography is solely based on print and recorded sources.)

Music in (and from) the Ancient World

Roman Lyre Player
(From Wladyslaw Kowalski's site -- see below]

This is a musicological analysis (with illustrations and charts) by Robert Fink of the world's oldest known instrument, a 4-hole Neanderthal flute fashioned from the femur bone of a very young cave bear:
...An ancient bone flute segment, estimated at about 43,000 up to 82,000 years old, was found recently at a Neanderthal campsite by Dr. Ivan Turk, a paleontologist at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences in Ljubljana. It's the first flute ever to be associated with Neanderthals and its confirmed age makes it the oldest known musical instrument....
The essay is highly technical, so I only scanned it -- but the implications are fascinating.  At the end are links to further discussion, debate and letters.
This is "Evidence of Harmony in Ancient Music," again by Robert Fink (reprinted from Feb 1988 Archeologia Musicalis).  Working with the oldest song notation in the world (from clay tablets from the Syrian city of ancient Ugarit, which are about 3400 years old) and also with ancient pictures of musicians (sketches are included in the paper), Fink builds his case for the existence of harmony, and not just simple melody, in the ancient world.
If you're interested in ancient Near Eastern music, don't miss this superb site
by Richard Dumbrill: "The Musicology and Organology of the Ancient Near
East 3500 - 500 BC."  His 700 page book is available in 3 formats: as a book,
a CD-ROM, or it can also be downloaded directly from this site.  I only had time for a brief look but the work looks rich and very impressive. (Note: this site is double-listed on my Near East page.)
From Bryn Mawr Classical Review 98.11.22 comes an engrossing review by Dr. Otto Steinmayer of John G. Younger's Music in the Aegean Bronze Age (1998).  Here are some excerpts:
...Younger never lets us forget that 3,000 years ago real people did sing and play, and no doubt--judging from his enthusiasm--with gusto....

...Younger's archaeological approach is not only natural but necessary. There texts of Bronze Age music, and nothing in the Linear B records--nothing until Homer--of any esthetic concern. What we needed was a painstaking, thorough, and informed look at depictions of musical scenes and the physical remains of instruments. This is exactly what Younger has given us....

Interestingly, Younger's method here resembles that of Marija Gimbutas and Jane Ellen Harrison, both of whom worked with art and artifact, not text.  The review gives a fascinating and very accessible look at Younger's work.  Here is one more excerpt:
...As for music and sexuality, Younger says that while music figures in erotic situations in both Egyptian art, and later Greek art, Aegean art offers almost no erotic art at all.... In short, the lack of connection between music and sex in [Bronze Age] Aegean art supports Younger's first point about Aegean peoples' opinion that music had strong emotional and ethical effects that seemed dangerous or subversive, to Plato, certainly, and perhaps also for the Greeks of 800 years before him. It must be significant that instruments that can be played standing up, and so allow the player to move vigorously, like the phorminx, are not shown played by women....

Roman Tambourine Player
(From Wladyslaw Kowalski's site -- see directly below]
From Wladyslaw Kowalski of the Penn State Architectural Engineering Graduate Students Association comes this terrific page on musical instruments from ancient Rome.  There are many illustrations, so be patient as it loads.  (Note: this site is double-listed on my Ancient Rome page -- and was, in fact, the catalyst for my return to that page after nearly 2 years.)
From the excellent Mythos Journal comes this essay, "Krishna's Flute, the Pied Piper and Divine Ecstasy" by James W. Maertens, Ph.D.  The thoughtful, well written and handsomely designed page is a pleasure.  Maertens looks at the Pied Piper, Pan, Krishna, and whirling dervishes in the larger context of a culture's need for those magical beings who can lure and trick us out of our obsession with power and control.
. . . Idries Shah, the scholar of Sufism, has suggested that our word jester is a corruption of chisti, the Afghan order of dervishes founded by Abu-Ishak Chishti in the tenth century. The Chishti dervishes "specialized in the use of music in their exercises. The wandering dervishes of the Order... would enter a town and play a rousing air with flute and drum to gather people round them before reciting a tale or legend of initiatory significance" (Shah 127). These Jesters or Wise Fools come to stir things up, to burst the bubble of adults who egotistically believe themselves to control the world. His sublime music points to a world beyond law, control, and words: a divine Otherness.
(Note: this link is double-listed on my Tricksters page.)
From Kathmandu University's Department of Music comes this short essay on the music of Nepal by Gert-Matthias Wegner:
...The most complex musical culture in the Himalayas is that of the Newar in the Kathmandu Valley which in the course of the past two thousand years has absorbed mostly Indian influences shaping a unique musical tradition.

The Newar culture flourished during the late Malla dynasty from the 15th century up to the 18th century....

...The Newars live in a Buddhist-Hindu area where the two religions coexist along with a strong influence of Tantric practices and local traditional cults. In the complex Newar caste system both Hindus and Buddhists have found their place. Many of these castes perform their own characteristic musical repertory and ritual duties during festivals and processions. Newar music and dance are always related to ritual and locality. A portion of Newar music is secretly performed during esoteric rites.

Bhaktapur, a Newar farmers' town at the eastern rim of the Kathmandu Valley has been able so far to preserve its traditional heritage. In 1989 there were still more than two hundred music and dance groups performing regularly....

The site offers a gallery (clickable) of excellent, detailed photos.  There is also a link explaining how to sponsor a tour of master drummers (I was surprised by the modest rates):

Drums in Lore & Ritual

A 17th century depiction of a Sami (Laplander) shaman with his ritual drum (and demon)
(From Rune Hagen's site -- see below.  Note: I've negativized the image.)

This is "Stories Involving Drums" from Mary Mark, a research programmer at Carnegie Mellon University.
Because I love both stories and percussion, I've put together a list of references to sources of stories involving percussion....
She has created an extensive, impressive bibliography of worldwide stories involving drums.   Most are in collections in books, but she includes publication data to help you locate them (there are also several web links).  In addition, she shares her complete version of a comical but ultimately poignant tale of an owl who loved music and dance but thought himself too ugly to be loved by anyone who saw him in the daylight; thus, he fled from love after a night of delight.
This is "The Shaman of Alta: the 1627 Witch Trial of Quiwe Baarsen" by Rune Hagen from Norway's University of Tromsø.  The illustrated paper concerns a case of witchcraft at Hasvåg, in the western region of Finnmark, Norway, May 1627.  Quiwe Baarsen is one among twenty-six Sami accused of witchcraft in Finnmark in the 17th century.  The Sami relates vivid details of raising sea winds and conjuring with runic Sami drums (a hypertext link provides a photo of a rune-marked Sami drum along with further data in Norwegian).  The terse, chilling account ends with Baarsen's being sentenced to being burned to death.  Christians in the 17th century had no framework except the demonic for judging the role of indigenous ritual music.  Over three centuries later, in some quarters they've failed to mature beyond such intolerant fear, as the next section reveals.......

"Out There"

"The Sound of my Voice"
MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission)

This is "Lamech, Jubal, Jabal, Tubal-Cain, Naamah: Babylonian Music" by Kenneth Sublett:
The oldest song recorded in the Bible is believed to have been sung to instrumental music. It was self-composed (ignoring God) and it claimed superiority over God. In the ancient literature, Lamech was blind (so fittingly)....
The scholarship (or lack thereof) is weirdly jumbled here.  The agenda promotes a certain type of fundamentalist Christian.  Actually, good sources are used, yet the data is twisted.  Here, for example:
...Musical instruments are often made of "animals which died of themselves." As such, they were polluted and unfit for use in worship. Their use was considered to pollute God Himself as they blew foul breath out of the old goat skin. It is fitting, therefore, that all musical terms in the Old Testament are derived from things which pollute....
At first, I felt angered by the author's sleight-of-hand, but the anger faded as I felt the underlying motivation: fear of the power of music.  Lest we who love music assume that merely restoring it to the curriculum of our schools will help refresh the spirits and sense of wonder in our children, I am including this link.  This is no time to be naive....nor to be angry.  Caution is needed because this sort of message can be contagious in educational systems where critical thinking is as foreign as Bach.

"Deaf Leonard"
(© MorrisoN's Gallery -- used with permission)
From the same site as the above link comes "Lilith The Mother of Musical Worship."  One quote from the opening will give you an idea of the agenda:
Ancient records about Lilith and others show that people believed that Satan instructed mankind in instrumental music and mixed choral groups or musical worship teams. This has a lot of support in the Bible....
What is so frustrating is that solid sources like Patai, Graves, and Campbell are unashamedly misused.  I hope that this author represents a small minority and that the 776,436 hits his site claims (as of  9/19/00) are casual net-surfers and not folks who take this sort of thing seriously.  Regardless, coping sensibly with this perversion of scholarship, to say nothing of its tone-deafness to archetypal and imaginal realms, can be crucial for the rest of us.

More to come as time permits...
[NOTE: ungrokked links are at the bottom of this page]





Ancient Greece: Pan

Menu of Common Themes, East & West:

Animal Guides
Creation Myths
Crones & Sages
Dragons & Serpents
Earth Goddesses & Gods
Floods, Storms, Rainbows, & Other Weather Wonders
Food: Sacrality & Lore
Green Men
Landscape: Sacrality & Lore   (Mountains, Wells, Springs, Pools, Lakes, Caves, Labyrinths, Spiral Mounds, Crop Circles, Stone Circles, Feng Shui)
Nature Spirits of the World
Rituals of Puberty
Sacred Theatre, Dance & Ritual
Sky Goddesses & Gods
Star Lore & Astrology
Symbols, Signs, & Runes
Time (Calendars, Clocks, Natural Temporal Cycles, Attitudes toward Time, & Millennium Issues)
Trees & Plant Lore
Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools
Weather-Working: An experimental ritual in cyberspace
Weaving Arts & Lore (Cosmic Webs, Spinning, Spindles, Clothing)

Down to Geographical Regions: Africa


If you have comments or suggestions, please email me at

This page created with Netscape Gold 3.01.
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and layout copyright © 2000 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Page Created 13-14 September 2000 (before & after midnight).
Latest Updates:
17, 19-20 September 2000; 28 September 2000; 12 & 13 October 2000.

[10/12/00: still working]