Music History

free essayMusic is a science or an art of using words and/or special instruments to produce a sound that must have some harmony and a beauty of form. The word “music” has a Greek origin and derives from the word “mousike” or the Latin “musica”, which were used to mean areas governed by muses. Every known culture of the world has its music representation either in the past or present that varies greatly between times, themes, purposes and places. Owing to the fact that the majority of people in the world, including various tribes, indicate the presence of musical aspects, a conclusion that music was in existence in the ancestral communities before the scattering of humans all over the world may be drawn. As a result, there is a possibility that music have been existed for no less than 50,000 years, which is indicated in early historical accounts. There is a popular theory that Africa could have been the home of music, which later evolved and spread worldwide to become what today is an integral aspect of human existence (Grout, 1960).

The unique aspects of each community, country and culture contribute immensely to the nature of music. Music is always influenced by the social, economical, political and other aspects of human’s life, historical dimensions and experience of the country, its climate , and, more importantly, access to the current technology. In addition, the emotions, attitude, information, as well as the various concepts, expressed through music, differ from area to area. In the same manner, the circumstances under which individuals listen or play music, and the attitude created towards the music players or composers of that music vary from region to region and from period to period (Naumann & Ouseley, 1886).

Prehistoric music is also called the primitive music and comprises all music that was produced in the prehistoric cultures. This period of music is recorded to have been followed by ancient music that existed around 1500 BCE and was found in most parts of Europe. Consequently, it was later spread in other European-influenced parts of the world; however, its existence was also visible even in isolated regions.

Thus, prehistoric music technically includes all the music composed in the world before the currently existing historical sources. An example of prehistoric music can be Native American music or the Aboriginal music of Australian. Nevertheless, prehistoric music is thought to be the one that belongs to any continent outside Europe and especially where it still exists. Some of such music is referred to as folk music, also known as indigenous. However, it is notable that nobody knows the exact answer to the question of where music originates from since it predated historical records of music. Some people suggest that music is likely to originate from the naturally produced rhythms and sounds. In addition, music among human beings may be like these phenomena since they use tonality, patterns and repetition. Even now, certain groups of people and cultures have some instances when their music vastly imitates the sounds produced by nature. In fact, they also use it to attract some animals during hunting (Rosenstiel & Griffel, 1982).

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There is a high probability that the first musical instrument was actually a human voice. In addition, it is known to make different types of sounds which ranges from singing, whistling and humming to coughing, clicking and yawning. An interesting fact is that in their history, people used different peculiar musical instruments. In 2008, some archaeologists found in Germany’s cave of Hohle Fels a flute made of boneIreland; the flute was five-holed and the mouthpiece was V-shaped. The flute, which is preserved to-date, turned out to be made of a wing bone of a vulture. Also, the oldest wooden pipe was discovered by archaeologists in 2004 in .

The oldest song in history known to people was written around 4,000 years ago in cuneiform. It gymelwas discovered by Prof. Anne Draffkorn Kilmer from Berkeley University, who deciphered its meaning by demonstrating its composition to be in harmonies and tunes of thirds, just like an ancient . In addition, the Seikilos epitaph stands out as the oldest music composition that is completed in the entire world (Gray, 1968).

Double pipes, like those that ancient Greeks traditionally used, the ancient bagpipes, and a keen review of some ancient drawings found on vases, walls, constructed buildings, carvings and Aristotle’s ancient writings show the presence of polyphony in the early days. A single pipe in a form of double flutes is likely to have been used as a drone to lead others while they played other melodic passages. In addition, instruments, like seven-holed flutes and other different types of stringed musical instruments were found in different archaeological sites. Notably, some of the written Indian music, also known as marga, is found in the Hindu scriptures and their tradition is known as the Vedas. In addition, a part of Vedas, Samaveda, offers a lengthy description of the music (Miller, 1960).

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Ravanahatha is a type of fiddle that is popular in the Western part of India. It is believed that it originates from the Hela civilization in Sri Lanka during Ravana’s reign. This fiddle has recognition among the earliest stringed musical instruments in the world history.

The period of the development of music and musical instruments in Iran is referred to as Persian music and it dates back from as early as the prehistoric era. Jamshid, the great king, played and important role in the history of musical inventions. Indeed, Iran’s music dated back to 2500-644 BC is connected with the Elamite Empire. In addition, different documents from ancient times of this country’s history conclude that Persian musical culture was rather elaborate. It is a notable fact that the period of AD 226-651, which is referred to as the Sassanid period, has left enough evidence that the Persian culture had a well-developed musical life. The names of a few important musicians like Nakissa, Barbod and Ramtin should be mentioned. Remarkably, some of their songs have survived (Finney, 1947). Some of the music of the early days includes music from Asia, Persia, Rome, India, Greece, Egypt and some Jewish, Muslim and Mesopotamian music.

In conclusion, all the communities in the world have a rich history in music and each tribe or culture can trace the background of music from their own culture. Various religions also greatly contributed to the rich history of music. Thus, the Bible shows that music was in place during the early times when David used his harp to sing for King Saul. The Israelites also sang the deliverance song when they crossed the red sea. However, it is difficult to exactly point out the nature of the oldest music since it dates back to the times when writing was not invented. In addition, history of music is divided by the parts of the world and into the different genres of music.

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