This exhibition features a set of four reed-flute instruments brought from Egypt during the nineteenth century—Neys—along with contemporary research on new organology and music history. The multimodal exhibit also includes a musical performance, a media display, and a downloadable syllabus.
The instruments are part of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s African collections, currently supervised by Dwaune Latimer. Although they were donated during the end of the nineteenth century, they were not widely known until 1937, when Francis William Galpin wrote in The Music of the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians that the oldest instrument of this kind was among the collections owned by the University of Pennsylvania. Since then, the international impact of Galpin’s book and the prominent stature of these instruments have stimulated musicological discussions about the prehistoric origins of the Ney and the instrument’s ongoing transformation during the present.
The exhibit is curated by Juan Castrillón, candidate in Ethnomusicology in the Department of Music at the University of Pennsylvania, and offers an organological contribution informed by his ethnomusicological research and his performance expertise on the instrument.