History of Music History of Music It can be argued that the vanguard of development has always been reflected in the arts of a culture. It is the poets, the dreamers and artists who are the architects of the future; the ones who build the world they want to live in, the ones who dream out loud1. Music is an elaborate art form, tempered by the emotions of those who create it and as such the dreams, creations and inventions are partly the products – or at least artifacts – of the world around them. As such, the social, economic and technological changes in society reflect themselves in the arts of the time also.
The common question “Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?” when inspected proves rhetorical: they are parallel mirrors which reflect each other.W.H. Auden best expressed this when he said, “A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.” Tracing the course of musical development through history shows how closely music (of all the art forms) in particular represents the time in which it was written. The “immediacy” Auden speaks of is evidenced in musics ability to associate itself with a specific point in time or event and always remind the listener of that time or place. It is impossible to analyse individual interpretation of music, however it is interesting to examine what caused musicians to write what they did, when they did.
The personal interpretation or association of a work is superimposed; it is the music “going on to become.” By correlating musical developments with historical events or conditions, we can see not only why certain styles of music were written when they were, but also how the times dictated the styles as much as the styles dictated the times. The exact origin of music is unknown. We can only form educated guesses from the evidence that remains today: pictures on fragments on broken vases of musical instruments, or cave paintings of dancing figures. It is generally accepted that music was first used in prehistoric times in spiritual or magical rituals.
This knowledge comes from the fact that music still forms a vital part of most religious ceremonies today. Whereas with ancient pictures, we can imagine missing pieces, or envision brighter colours, when it comes to music we have no idea of what instruments were used, or the sounds they made.Our relationship with the music of the time is as intangible to us as if we had only smelled the dyes of the paintings we see. Greek music is just about the first artifact, chronologically speaking, of record which can begin to make sense to us. Although there is evidence that music and music performance played a large part in Greek culture in the manuscripts discovered from their civilisation, there are very few actual artifacts of the music itself, either vocal or instrumental that have survived. It is impossible to fully understand what little notation that has been discovered to properly reproduce an accurate performance or even imagine what it could sound like.
Greek civilisation was heavily reliant on mythology. According to Greek mythology, music was considered divine; a creation of the gods.It was believed that the gods themselves invented music and musical instruments.
Music and religion (mythology) played an integral part in both the public and private lives of the Greeks. Many early myths were those which explained the powerful forces of music. The Greek were perhaps the first to iterate musics powerful effect on human emotions. In Greek history, music was a much debated topic.Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle both had very different views on the power and importance it had. Pythagoras developed the numerical octave system still used to represent music today. This was critical in helping us to understand today what we find in artifacts of the past. Entertainment in Greece was highly regarded and prioritised, as it represented wealth and status.
The Greeks developed most of their music in theatre and by the time Greece became a province of the Roman Empire, music dominated most dramatic performances as well as social activities.We have far better evidence and examples of the music played in the society of the Roman Empire. Most of the music created in the Roman Empire originated in the music of the Greeks. Despite this, there was definite musical activity in the later Roman Empire. An ample amount of evidence survived for instruments and a good deal of theory also.
But by and large, Greek music remained the most popular in society in the Roman Empire.It developed as early Christian music developed from Jewish traditions. The custom of singing sacred verses at services is one example of such transferring of traditions. As the Church grew larger, the music fell more and more into the care of professionals and it became greatly complex.
Soon the church officials became fearful that the music was overpowering the worship and music had to be regulated in worship services. Most of the music of this time was being written for religious purposes (worship, praise, etc.) and was strictly controlled by church officials.Much like the Greek, music was treated as a religious artifact, however in a much more regulated sense.
This centralisation of control was fundamental to the Roman Empire, and deviation from it was perceived as a threat to the Empire. Music, being sacred, was put into the care of priests, in much the same way religion was seen to be something that could be administered. By the sixth century, plainchant had increased so greatly that Pope Gregory I had it collected and organized, and it came to be known as Gregorian Chant. The chant did not have a regular rhythm but was fitted to the natural accents of the Latin words.
Like all previous music, each chant consisted of a single monophonic (single voiced) melody, where all the singers sang the same notes. A move in religion from centralised worship to individual worship was reflected in the music of the time as well.Music developed independent styles or variations which changed significantly from the prescribed music of the Church. One cannot conclude that the de-centralisation of Religion was brought about due to Christianity seeking to monopolise music, making individual musical expression akin to heresy and that this form of control was impossible to maintain, however it is hard to ignore the impact displacing the centralisation of music had on the Holy Roman Empires control of its territory. In Venice, where ships and travelers on their way to and from the Middle East congregated, a city considered to be at the edge of the civilised world, the music received from the Church of Rome, written by composers such as Palestrina, was being changed and interpreted in new ways by an intersection of cultures.
In Piazza San Marco experiments with such forbidden concepts as polyphony and harmonies were being conducted, much to popular approval. The music of the place reflected the cosmopolitan influences of the city. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, traveling entertainers, known as troubadours performed music and sand songs of chivalry and adventures (rescuing damsels in distress from dragons, and so on) and helped spread nonreligious (secular) music.In France these entertainers were either vagrant musicians who performed their songs and poetry in order to make a living, or young aristocrats who performed and sang for their own enjoyment. The content of these songs often portrayed a hero and celebrated his strength or wisdom in battle or on a quest.
Many manuscripts of this music have been successfully recovered. One of the prim …