Stone Age Musical Instruments - A Fun Guide for Kids
Updated: Jun 27
Let's face it, we humans love making noise. Whether it's talking, singing or belching, we can't get enough of loud sounds. Which probably goes some way to explaining why we adore music so much. We love to listen to music and we also love to create music.
But this isn't a new human behaviour from only the last few centuries. Oh no no my friend, we've been making music for thousands and thousands of years. Since the Stone Age in fact. Here's a selection of Stone Age Musical Instruments to prove it.
Archaeologists have found loads of bone flutes in caves dotted all over the world. Animal bones were hollowed out and holes drilled in the surface, this enabled Stone Age people to puff on the end and make a similar noise to your mate Suzie on her school recorder.
The above image is of one of the oldest bone flutes ever found. It was discovered at Hohle Fels Cave in Germany - the flute is a mind bending 35,000 years old! That's older than your grandad and your grandma's ages added together. Fact.
The amazing thing is that these flutes work. Modern musicians can play music using a bone flute. For example: A musician was able to play a contemporary folk song on a bird bone flute found in China. Does playing a bird bone flute sound like a bird tweeting? And does playing a cave bear flute sound like a bear whistling? Take a peek at this video to discover the answer.
Horns were another popular musical instrument in the Stone Age. This is probably because they were pretty easy to make. Take a cow horn. Then chop the end off. Then put it to your lips and blow till the cows come home.
Though probably best not wait till the cows actually come home, they might be cross that you've just chopped off their uncle's horns to use as a musical instrument.
Musical Conch Shell
Brainy people - or archaeologists as they prefer to be called - have found an ancient conch shell that was used as a wind instrument in the Old Stone Age.
Well, actually, they didn't find it. In fact, the conch shell was uncovered way back in 1931. When they first found the shell, super dude brain dudes - or, again, as they prefer to be called, 'archaeologists' - thought it was a drinking cup. But that wasn't the case.
Using fancy techniques, those modern super smart smarties - aka, you guessed it, archaeologists - have discovered the shell had been customised. It had a mouthpiece added and had been decorated too.
A horn player was hired to have a go on this prehistoric conch shell and managed to blow out a near perfect series of musical notes: a C, a C sharp and a D.
Singing in the Cave
Stone Age people probably used to sing! Now, I know what you're thinking, how the heck do we know that? I mean, it's not like Stone Age people could record their dulcet tones and release tracks on Spotify now is it?
Well, a study has suggested that people painted cave paintings in parts of their caves where singing and humming sounded best. Scientists found that the most painted bits of caves were the areas with the best acoustics. Incredibly, humming into certain crevices of the cave enabled the scientists to mimic the animals depicted in the paintings.
Is it just me or are you imagining a very important looking group of scientists all growling like cave bears right now?
If you are a teacher then you'll definitely want Imagining History to bring their 'A Handy Guide to Survive the Stone Age' Interactive workshop to your school.
Our Award-Winning sessions combine role-play, storytelling, demonstrations and drama and performance to bring history to life for your students.
We'll even allow your students to have a go making music with a secret Stone Age musical instrument not featured on this list!