Archeologists who study ancient cave paintings often run across depictions of people apparently music. If that’s what was painted, what music were those people playing? And what did it sound like? It’s not like we can ask them for an MP3. This became the obsession of people studying 2,000-year-old paintings in Western Cape province in South Africa.
The first thing researchers did was determine what kind of instruments are in those paintings. It looked like the figures may be medicine men, healers wielding fly-whisks as they dance into a trance. Or maybe not.
One hypothesis said that these fly-whisks were actually musical instruments called !goin !goin in the language of ǀXam, which is now extinct. They belong to a type of instrument known as aerophones. They make sound as you spin them about.
One painting showed eight people playing the !goin !goin. Life-sized replicas were constructed using the paintings and a 19th-century model found in a museum. Once complete, the !goin !goin produced frequencies between 90 and 150 Hz that pulse. Speeding up or slowing down the rotation of the !goin !goin changes their pitch. If you have multiple players each spinning their !goin !goin at different rotational rates turn the group into a band.
The archeologists took everything into a recording studio. Three !goin !goin were used. The result was this. Anyone want to sample this?