The Louvre Aulos

Click here to listen to the sound of a detailed replica of the Louvre aulos, played by Callum Armstrong in 2017 (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).

This is a 3D model of the Louvre aulos (inv. nr. E10962) that I created in 2021, following the measurements published by Stefan Hagel. As I will explain in greater detail elsewhere, I have reconstructed the double reeds that are needed to complete these pipes on the basis of archaeological parallels combined with a mathematical model of this pipe, which gives a basic estimate of the scale it produces.









These wooden pipes of unknown dating were probably produced in Graeco-Roman Egypt, but their design reflects a harmonic model that was firmly established in the 4th century BC. Classical poets including Euripides often described such instruments as ‘Lybian lōtos’ (Eur. Tr. 544, Hel. 170, IA 1036), referring to a particular type of African wood that was employed to produce these instrument as an alternative to ivory or bone (see also the Elgin aulos).

These pipes are preserved in their entirety—a fortunate coincidence that provides us with a solid starting point for 3D modelling, as well as acoustic and harmonic analyses.

Aulos reeds Kylix with a Symposion Scene Yale University Art Gallery public domain.jpg
double reed reconstruction Lynch.jpg
Louvre aulos reeds Callum Armstrong.jpg
detail of a Kylix attributed to: Gales Painter, ca. 520–510 B.C—Yale University Art Gallery, 1913.163.
3d reconstruction of Louvre double reed, 
Lynch, 2022.
working replicas by Callum Armstrong,

As I will show in forthcoming articles, the scale played by this instrument corresponds to well-known established Greek tunings, known as harmoníai, and also matches iconography very closely.

Screenshot 2022-05-27 at 10.51.30.png
Screenshot 2022-05-27 at 10.51.42.png
detail of Amphora, Peleus Painter
(ca 440BC), BM E271. 1847,0909.7

The cultural significance of the scale played by this instrument will also be discussed in one of the books I’m currently working on (Plato’s musical ethos: ancient modes, instruments and rhythms).