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Music History Essay

Music, as they say, is a universal language. Unlike dialects, music can be understood by many sans, the lyrics spoken in a different country. The simple humming of a child, done in mostly minor chords, can make everyone feel a little emotional or sad. A happy song filled with trumpets, saxophones and lively guitar tabs can make people excited and get them all to dance. Music can unite people regardless of their age, gender and race, which is why it is considered a universal language. Through Those Years The history of music dates back before the 1800s, but that is only to put a legal timeline to the evolution of music.

Since music is universal, it is then safe to say that it has started even in the beginning of the world. The first human beings, or the first animals, for that matter, depended on sounds that make up a structure filled with patterns that were easily remembered, which conveyed a meaning and made people do things like hunt for food, identify where the predator or the prey is, or go where they should go. Music was a sign and a symbol that represented something (Murray, 2004, p. 773). Technically, though, music before the 1800s existed already, in a more technical sense of the concept.

Music was then not just a collection of different sounds. It became a study where people researched about it. During the 18th century, the book entitled History of Music was written and published by GB Martini. Its original title was Storia Della Musica. Other books followed after GB Martin’s, and among the many books that were published after the first one were De Cantu de Musica Sacra and Scriptores Ecclesiastici de Musica Sacra. The types of music being studied, during these times, were classified as sacred music (Murray, 2004, p. 773). During 1800-1950, the evolution of music can be seen and musical history was being more defined.

It didn’t take too long when Johannes Wolf started to do more studies about music, specifically the type of sound that emerged during the Medieval and the Renaissance times. Musicologists depended much on the studies conducted by Johannes Wolf. Because of this, a branch of art called historical musicology was termed and developed. This branch of study became a significant part of the Baroque music. It also became an instrument to the development of music during the Medieval and the Renaissance era. In particular, the movement of original performance has a lot to do with the scholarship associated with the history of music.

Musicology became a big part of the arts, and became more and more developed as time passed by. It soon became a field of study. Consequently, journals, researches, articles and new analyses are being developed to branch them out altogether, in order to produce more studies to be published. Music was being more defined as years went by, and it was spreading like fire all over the world (Murray, 2004, p. 773). Ancient Music To understand the history of music and how it changes, it is then best to use a chronology to explain the turn of events. First there was ancient music.

This type of music reflects all the types of music that developed in the different parts of the globe, like Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome, Greece, China, India and Persia. In fact, music was already popular and rich in countries like Rome, Greece and Mesopotamia. Whatever was audible to the people were characterized through basic scales and tones, and then came music. Music spread throughout history through systems, either written or oral (West, 1994, p. 13). The definition of ancient music differs from time to time because of how much music is already revolving, and is continuously revolving.

Today, if one defines ancient music, he can say that it is the modern sound that still resembles whatever is folk and traditional in that country. Today, there are modern sounds that Muslims, Egyptians, Jews, Asians, Persians, and Indians produce, but still has not left behind the oldest and most basic of original ancient music (West, 1994, p. 13). Persia, for example, flute, lute and guitars were already being played. Religious rituals were not complete in Persia without music. Music was significant in the lives of the Persians, especially in their spiritual life.

It was in Mesopotamia where the first traces of writing were seen. It was the same time when researchers and historians traced instructions for music. The traces were fragmentary, but the authorities were sure that there was music during this time in this place. In fact, music was in made in thirds when it comes to harmony. The scales of the musical pieces produced were even diatonic (Leichtentritt, 2007, p. 14). Up to this day, though, how the researchers can interpret the symbols in the ancient Mesopotamia is not a hundred percent clear. There are still controversies that have yet to be discussed and settled.

The interpretation of the symbols remains to be vague. But one thing is sure; all the notations made on the cuneiform tablets were clearly that of the tunings and strings of a musical instrument called a lyre. It was also during this time when harps were invented and became a big part of the history of music (Leichtentritt, 2007, p. 14). In India, ancient music was also active. Indians were always enthusiastic when it comes to the type of musical instrument they were playing. Musical instruments were all around India. This can be proven by how much instruments were amassed from the Indus valley civilization.

Archaeological sites can prove all these. Indians had forms of music that includes Samaveda, Rigveda and Samagana. Their music was characterized from hymns, verses and melodies. It was in religious rituals where music was used the most. Indian music had basic ingredients to make a sound “Indian. ” During the first part of a song, Shadja is always established. The grama, in this case, is being defined. Grama is the Indian term for the note of the scale. Indian music also lives by the two principles of consonance, which involves Avinashi and Avilopi.

Avinashi is a fundamental note that should always be present in a musical piece, and with Avilopi it means that the note should never change, and that it should always stay there in that particular music piece, according to Leichtentritt (2007, p. 14). Greek’s music has evolved through time. The Greeks have original musical notation style. They developed their own, no matter how robust it is. While it is true that the best musicians in Greece did not necessarily use their musical notations produced originally, it cannot be denied that a lot of Romans and Greeks still use of that original musical notation.

Greek music was not exactly monophonic, although this was almost established with their style of music (West, 1994, p. 13). There was always more than just a note to be sounded at a similar time. Double pipes and bag pipes were mostly used. These can be proven also by the ancient drawings seen on the vases and the walls of Greece. Even the oldest Greek books had authors who were able to describe what different musical techniques were being used during these times. Double flutes were also popular in Greece (West, 1994, p. 13). Middle Eastern After the Ancient music came the Middle Eastern music.

Middle Eastern music was rich in that it was characterized by different styles from different regions. When one goes to the Middle East, there are different types of music that can be seen, like “zajal, Turkish folk music, Turkish classical music, sha’abi, Sufi music, rapbesk, rnbesk. Somali music, pizmonim, Persian folk, Nubian music, mawwal, Kurdish music, Egyptian Chaabi and el-Gil, Egyptian Classical music, Berber music, Arabic Andalusian, Arabesque music, Arabic rap, Arabic pop, Algerian rai and Arabic Classical Music (Stanley, 1997, p. 126). ”

The Islam community displays its great influence coming from the Middle East music. In fact, as the Islam used music in their rituals, Middle Eastern music spread even more quickly. The identity of Middle Eastern music is defined from the melody which is still present today in modern Middle Eastern pop and liturgical music (Stanley, 1997, p. 126). Classical Music Music evolves all around the world. In the West, music has gone a long way from the classical compositions of great masters like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Carl Philipp Emanuel Back, and Franz Schubert to the catchy modern pop songs of today.

It’s kind of hard to imagine how music has evolved from those grand compositions to the contemporary quirky beats we listen to today, but that just proves how quickly music transforms according to the needs of the people (Stanley, 1997, p. 154). The Classical period in the West dates from about 1750 to 1820. Classical music refers to various styles of music with roots in the secular and liturgical European musical traditions of the 9th century. This type of music is characterized by romantic melodies using instruments like violins and flutes (Stanley, 1997, p.

154). One striking characteristic of classical music is its elegance. This elegance is achieved by the composers’ close attention to balance and proportion. For this reason, classical music never becomes obsolete. Up to now, many people around the world, whether they live in the West or not, still listen to classical music. Some people study their structures and attempt to recreate classical music using modern instruments. Others simply enjoy their relaxing melodies, which may aid them to concentrate on their tasks or even sleep better.

There is even a concept called “Mozart effect”, as explained by Stanley (1997), which says that children who are exposed to the classical music of the great genius that is Mozart are able to concentrate more on their tasks, thus resulting in better performance in school. This is just one example of the newly discovered benefits of music that are surprising ordinary people and experts around the world (Stanley, 1997, p. 8). Western Music through the Years As the power of the West became stronger and reached farther into different corners of the globe, music itself has gained the imprints of Western culture.

More and more people heard and recognized the merits of Western music. Countries that were once colonies of Western countries are especially influenced by Western music because the language barrier is weaker. Today, the dominant music is the world comes from the West. Classical, blues, jazz, rock, hip-hop, ballads, R n B – all of these have roots in the West. The amazing thing is that since music is universal, people of different races and cultures around the world can appreciate these Western genres of music. Western music may influence local music, but the traditional character of music never goes away.

For instance, in Japan today, pop music has obvious Western overtones, but most pop hits are all sung in Japanese. J-pop, as Japanese pop is locally called, is influenced by Western music in a lot of ways, but its characteristics are still a lot different from Western pop music. The Music of the ‘40s and ‘50s The invention and mass production of radios during the 1940s and 1950s facilitated an amazing development in musical styles. In many ways, World War II has also changed the face of music dramatically as people expressed their disappointments and rebelliousness against the war through music (Melton and Weinstein, 2001, p.

17). Rock and roll has its roots in the 1940s, along with other musical genres such as country, jazz, swing, folk, and boogie woogie. In the United States, different musical styles were expressed by different races. Blacks had difficulty hitting the mainstream until the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, sang rock and R n B. Elvis was able to show the whites the excellent beats of rock music, which made its crossover into mainstream a lot easier. Elvis eventually became one of the biggest icons of rock and roll in the United States and around the world (Melton and Weinstein, 2001, p.

17). The Music of the ‘60s and ‘70s Music received huge social influences again during the 1960s and the 1970s because of the Vietnam war, the Cold War, and the spread of the Civil Rights movement. During this period, music clearly became a platform for various causes, including feminism, race empowerment, sexual freedom, and other liberal ideas (Frith, et. al. , 2001, p. 77). There are many musical icons that gained fame during this tumultuous period in musical history. Musicians like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan pioneered new techniques in lyrical composition.

These new techniques inspired more artists such as Cat Stevens, Carole king, Elton John, and James Taylor to create their own groundbreaking chart-topping hits. The ‘60s were filled with R n B hits that were a combination of secular and gospel music. Different kinds of soul music emerged in this time, including Philly soul, Memphis soul and Motown. Popular artists such as Marvin Gaye and James Brown also found fame and fortune in the 1960s (Frith, et. al. , 2001, p. 77). Of course, music in the 1960s and 1970s cannot be discussed without mentioning the band that is probably one of the biggest influences of contemporary music: The Beatles.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr drew huge crowds to their concerts and sold millions through their hits. The band not only became huge in England, but also in the United States and in other countries as far as the Philippines (Frith, et. al. , 2001, p. 74). One of the amazing things about The Beatles is their ability to change the musical landscape. While their early hits had rhythms and melodies that have the basics of rock and roll, their later albums explored new horizons. Their album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was ranked by Rolling Stones magazine as the greatest album of all time.

This recognition is due to the immense influence of this album on the musical styles of later genres of music (Frith, et. al. , 2001, p. 74). Music of the ‘80s and the ‘90s Western music continued to gain wide acceptance around the world during the 1980s. New Wave, hip-hop, punk rock, and heavy metal increased their markets and new musical stars were born. New Wave experimented with electronic sound and catchy, playful beats which people danced to. The various styles of rock music provided the youth the avenue to express their adventurousness and rebelliousness against the fast-paced modern world.

During the 1990s, grunge musicians led by the band Nirvana took center stage in the music world. Their honest and rough lyrics reflecting the confusion and apathy of the youth, and their loud, distorted riffs gained millions of fans in the United States. Meanwhile, hip-hop also gained wider popularity as hip-hop stars such as Dr. Dre and Puff Daddy broke into the music scene with fresh raps and rhythms (Chambers, 2002, p. 166). The 1990s were also notable for the huge popularity of boy bands, which are boy groups that sang ballads with catchy beats and lyrics.

Some of these boy bands included Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Westlife, and A1. Boy bands became hugely popular because of their romantic songs which people can sing and dance to. Another group that is worth noting is the Spice Girls who originated from the United Kingdom. This group symbolized the power of women through their songs and videos. Interestingly, the Spice Girls were a hit for both males and females. After the Spice Girls, many other girl bands soon formed, but none of them reached their extraordinary level of popularity (Chambers, 2002, p. 166). The State of Music Today

Today, contemporary music is still strongly influenced by the West. Pop, rock, hip-hop, R n B, and other genres have Western musicians leading the pack. Local music in different countries, though, are also gaining wider acceptance by fusing with the dominant music of the West or borrowing some of its elements. Music today is also crisper and clearer; thanks to the high level of technology that humans have achieved through science. Albums are released in CDs or DVDs, and they can also be downloaded on the Internet. Storage of music became a lot simpler, too.

Before, you need bulky gramophone records to store music. Now, all you need is a tiny universal serial bus (USB) storage device to archive all the music you want. MP3 players have also made listening to music easier since these devices can be worn or slip inside a pocket. People can now go anywhere listening to their favorite songs. The West has no monopoly over music, though. All around the world, many people are rediscovering the beauty of their own local melodies, and they are breathing new life into them again in the form of world music.

This musical style makes use of indigenous instruments and they usually are not accompanies by lyrics. Less popular genres like this are usually produced by independent producers, thus the term “indie. ” Indie though, has its own market and continues to grow in popularity as people try to taste new musical types (Chambers, 2002, p. 166). The Human Experience of Music People change as music transforms as we’ve seen in our discussion of the long continuing history of music. Music is an expression of the culture that gives birth to it, and it constantly bends as various influences impinge upon it.

It is an art form that never stays the same, but evolves through time. Music though doesn’t transform on its own. Historical events shape music as they shape the lives of people. The art form becomes a reflection of the hopes, dreams, and grievances of the people that create and listen to it. We can see this clearly in the rebellious attitude of the music from the ‘40s and ‘50s because of World War II, and the free spirit of the music from the ‘60s and ‘70s as it protested against the Vietnam War and the Cold War (Frith, et. al. , 2001, p. 77).

In many ways, musicians deliberately voice out their protests through the songs that they sing. For example, John Lennon’s “Imagine” is a clear reaction to the dangers of the Cold War and other social inequalities at that time (Frith, et. al. , 2001, p. 77). However, music doesn’t always send clear messages all the time. In fact, most of the time, composers unconsciously express their sentiments and the sentiments of their generation through the beat of their songs, or through their melodies. Perhaps the greatest thing about music is its universality.

Since everyone can appreciate good music, the art form traverses national and ethnic boundaries, bridging people together no matter where they come from. Good music will always be good music regardless of a person’s educational or cultural background. Of course, a person may need to expose himself repeatedly to a new genre to appreciate its beauty. But it’s not difficult to do that if the genre is indeed good. The universality of music is now more apparent than ever before because of the Internet. Musical influences are easier to share ever since artists living in opposite sides of the globe can listen to each other’s work.

It’s not only artists though who benefit from the cyberspace, but also the listeners. Downloadable MP3 songs are all over the Internet, some of them free, others for sale for a small price. With a click of a mouse, a person online can listen to Middle Eastern music, classical music, rock and roll, hip-hop, world music, or whatever genre he wants. Music is bringing people closer and closer to each other. Time and space are quickly becoming negligible factors as people find satisfaction and comfort in just enjoying different musical styles.

Old styles themselves are disappearing as traditional barriers are broken and various genres fuse together to create new ones. The result is that people are able to understand each other better through listening to different kinds of music. People are becoming more tolerant of each other’s differences as they see that they’re all just human beings enjoying music The future is bright for musicians and listeners around the world as technology allows music to cross more borders. Soon, everyone will be able to appreciate a variety of musical genres regardless of their original countries or ethnic backgrounds.

As people listen to their CDs, MP3s and musical devices, they will realize that their hopes and dreams are one. They will realize that while music came from different corners of the world, it speaks of the universal desire of human beings for unity and peace. Bibliography Chambers, Stuart. (2002) Yes: An Endless Dream of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s Rock Music : an Unauthorized Interpretative History in Three Phases. General Store Publishing House. Frith, Simon, Will Straw and John Street. (2001) The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock.

Cambridge University Press. Leichtentritt, Hugo. (2007) Music, History and Ideas. Read Books Publications. Melton, William and Randy Weinstein. (2001). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing the Harmonica. Alpha Books. Murray, Christopher John. (2004) Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850. Taylor & Francis Publishing, Inc. Stanley, John. (1997) Classical Music: An Introduction to Classical Music Through the Great Composers & Their Masterworks. Penguin Group USA. West, Martin Litchfield. (1994) Ancient Greek Music. Oxford University Press.


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