Music History


As much as music is a universal thing, it is so subjective and relative such that to one person it may be music but to another person it may not be. This therefore complicates the whole issue of the origin of music, which most people speculate to be from those early ages, yet they cannot specially say the dates. In the same way, music is a depiction of art, emotions, culture and ideology of a specific society at a certain period and the styles of music, the sounds and the instruments that accompany it keep on evolving as the society evolves. The basic element of music, which is indispensable when people are dancing, is rhythm. Therefore, a dance is always accompanied by a certain rhythm that most probably guides the dancers’ styles and speed of body movement. This therefore means that music and dance are great partners from the early history of human life. In the corner of everyday life, there lurks music of all forms. For instance, any blow on objects like shell whistle, reeds, and bamboos produce some moan. To some extent, the wind also does that when in high speed, producing some kind of rhythm. However, the most outstanding the human voice that has the ability to delightfully go up and down at his/her will. There are several periods of historical music and how it evolved as discussed below.

Beginning with pre-historic music, the earliest form of music was majorly based on natural instruments that were readily available in those days like sticks, rocks, hones, reeds among others. These simplest forms of music are assumed to be used when the people were performing religious ceremonies like animal sacrifice and others. However, there is no writing or notations of such kind of music but it can only be extrapolated from the music of native Africans and red Indians in America who still perform such kind of religious practices and embrace those ancient songs. The evolution of instruments of music was very slow but steady in the early years. However, it is suggested that the voice of man was probably the first instrument of music when he wanted to imitate the nature’s rhythm or to get along with the ancient rituals. This was followed steadily by the clapping of hands or heating two objects together just to supplement the rhythm of the voice.

Ancient music is a name given to the music produced at the times when writing begun to develop among the humans. Therefore, the development of writing helped record musical practices and thus helping us know the invention of music notation system, and the record of the instruments of this period. The more elaborate form of early music can be traced to the civilization of the Greeks who drew much from the Egyptian and the Mesopotamian culture. Arguably, by the time of Greek’s emergence on the historical stage, these two ancient civilization had made several inventions of most musical instruments for families like strings, reeds, drums, flutes and brass. During this early period, music had basically two major roles in the society of man: entertainment and ceremony like social, religious or civic. The most popular instruments to the Greeks at this time were the aulos, which looked like a bow and the lyre, which looked like a harp. The view of Greek philosophers on music was that it was the harmony underlying the universe and some added an argument that music performance has an influence on the behavior of man.

The knowledge of music in the bible if mostly referred to the culture and traditions of the Israelites. The music and religion Historian named Leckyer Herbert says that both vocal and instrumental music in the bible were cultivated among the Hebrews and it is evidenced in the writings of the bible. Therefore, the Old Testament is a revelation of the devotion of God’s people through the practice of music as it is held in the prophetic books of the bible. Even the prophets of the bible were themselves musicians like Miriam the prophetess took her tambourine during the Exodus and led the women in dance, song, and celebration for the Lord’s triumph over the Egyptians. King soul also comes to an encounter with prophets of the sanctuary who gave prophecies while accompanied by instruments. Additionally, the bible quotes Ezekiel the prophet as a person with a very beautiful voice played an instrument perfectly well. In the same way, King David performed religious music because he wrote the book of Psalms full of religious songs and messages that are sung up to date. The study of ancient biblical music has been majorly on the instruments of Israelites and Palestine. From the data of archeologists, it is clearly demonstrated that music was one of the basic things of life in the ancient Israeli community. This therefore means that even during the biblical times as it is recorded, music was used to communicate important messages apart from being used as a worship and entertainment.

Moreover, it is during the Middle Ages that the tradition of western music begun due to the developments in the social and religious status in Europe. Due to the domination of the Catholic Church in this period, the most prevalent form of music was the sacred music. However, it was during the 12th century that organum music developed from sacred music and performed in Paris. There was a fluorescent of secular music by the French people and the period culminated until the genius western secular music was composed. The Christian church of this period derived their music styles and hymns from the already existing Jewish religion. In a certain time during the 9th century, the musicians’ theorists in the church tried a new style of music through experimentation when they simultaneously sang tow melodic lines in parallel intervals.

Music also went through an era known as the renaissance period. In the renaissance period of music, the vocal type was more preferred as compared to the instrumental music. The instrumental music was not commonly applicable and hence there was scarcity of instruments. The composers of the songs in this era were writing music with a great aim of giving a clear meaning of their emotions. Music hence helped to pass important information to the community as well as illustrating the moods. This is what made the music during this period to emotional. The emotional part of the music is brought out by the accompaniment of the moods in the song. The sound of the music was quite high in this era. This came as a result of the involvement of the bass register in the composing of the song. Music by this time was gaining popularity. The main reason as to why music was gaining such popularity is the emergence of the printing press which assisted in circulating the music copies after composing. The number of music composers increased and people were now being taught on music techniques. Music composers were now found in many places like churches, towns, and court. This assisted in the growth of the church choir. Due to the growth of music, the music composers had gained high status in the community and attracted a better pay for their work.

One of the ages of music was the Baroque age which consisted mainly of music which expressed one mood throughout the entire piece of the song. The mood was easily noticed through the musical expressions and behaviors of the composer. The mood was expressed through musical language. The music could be accompanied by varying emotions but all the emotions were just circulating on one type of mood. The main reason for the maintenance of a single mood is the availability of continuity of rhythm through the entire piece of the song. The baroque music had the terraced dynamics, which were clearly seen when the dynamics were maintained for a while, and then a sudden change in them is done. The demand for music had now gone high again and the music composers were to write many new songs, as the listeners were not interested in listening to that old music. The court musicians were most valued and paid more than those from the church. People usually became musicians more than those from the church did. People usually became musicians mainly through inheritance and apprenticeship. Children were really trained on the methods of composing music. Before one could become a musician, he or she was to pass certain tests.

The music also went ahead to another level known as the classical period. At this age, music differed with the Baroque age in that it was accompanied by different moods. The moods of the music could be changing in a slow and well-defined manner or even a sudden change depending on the composer. In order to engage the audience involvement, the music was accompanied by crescendo as well as decrescendo styles. The piano was now commonly used because of its ability to change dynamics easily. The composers of this era started making control of their composing rather than composing songs as per the expectations of the people. There emerged rich class of people who played a role in enlarging the music sector. Many people were now interested in their children being taught music lessons in the schools.

The other period of the music industry was romantic period. The romantic period was accompanied by different emotions of the different composers. Due to this reason every composer had a different and a unique style of performance. Being romantic, this kind of music was accompanied a lot of emotions. The music could usually be composed in two different styles. One of the styles is the nationalism. Nationalism saw the composers composing songs in the style of their homeland. The other style was the exoticism. This style was characterized by the composers composing songs to match foreign land. There mainly existed a type of music called the program music. This kind of music was composed to illustrate a certain event, story or a scene. One of the main program composers was Hector Berlioz. The composers used ranging dynamics which ran from pppp to ffff. The composers also introduced new instruments in their composing. One of the main instrument which was introduced was the piccolo. In this era, the composers ceased from being employed and started composing songs on their own base. Many homes were interested in music and purchased musical instruments mainly the piano.

The music then went ahead to another step known as the twentieth century. In this era, the tone color was very crucial and many techniques were now applied. The composers of the songs used many percussive instruments. Some of these instruments which were used include the glissando as well as the down the scale. In this era, songs were composed with the exemption of the traditional tone system. The rhythmic patterns were expanded in this type of music. Different types of rhythms were combined in one song through the involvement of different sections of composers at a time. Music had now become very popular as a result of the available radio broadcasts, mass printing of music copies and recording. It was now easy for anyone to access music in an easy manner than before. It is in this era where women joined the music industry in large numbers.

In conclusion, music has actually grown from a minor level to where it is now. It has passed through very many different eras with each era carrying its own characteristics. The musical instruments are seen to be growing from each era to the next. The music industry seems to be growing every now and then. As the time goes by, many people are seen to be interested in music matters. The music was advancing in style and performance from time to time. At the moment, music is still growing and there is room for advancement as well. This is what indicate that music is yet to advance and we should expect better music performance styles in the future.

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Music History. (2018, Sep 22). Retrieved February 23, 2024 , from

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