In late 2009, Scientists in Germany published details of flutes dating back to the time that modern humans began colonizing Europe, 35,000 years ago. The flutes are the oldest musical instruments found to date. The most well-preserved of the flutes is made from a vulture’s wing bone, measuring 20cm long with five finger holes and two “V”-shaped notches on one end of the instrument.
Tonal analysis of the flutes revealed that the seven holes correspond to a tone scale remarkably similar to the Western eight-note scale that begins “do, re, mi.” This carefully-selected tone scale suggested to the researchers that the Neolithic musician of the seventh millennium BC could play not just single notes, but perhaps even full music. The archaeologists also found fragments of two other flutes carved from ivory that they believe was taken from the tusks of mammoths.
A similar discovery was also made at excavations of an early Neolithic site located in Henan province, China, which revealed six complete bone flutes between 7,000 – 9,000 years old.. The Chinese flutes are also made from bird bones, in this the ulnae, or wing bones, of the red-crowned crane and like the German flutes have five, six, seven or eight holes.
The collective evidence suggests that playing music was common as far back as 40,000 years ago when modern humans spread across Europe, and that music was part of day-to-day life. And this is what the bone flute has evolved to today, in our modern world, where some people are Thick as a Brick and Bungle in the Jungle with their precious Aqualung.