The Evolution of Music Have you ever wondered where music came from? Or, why music that you like to listen to is so different from the music your parents listen to?
The Evolution of Music Music, just like people, has evolved (changed) over thousands of years. Human knowledge and technology have grown, so have our taste for more complicated sounds and rhythms.
The Evolution of Music Each new generation of people creates new music that either builds on or rebels against the music of their parents and grandparents. This means that new types of music and new sounds are always being invented.
The Evolution of Music So, where did it all start?
How it all began….. The first music, the first rhythms and melodies were sounds from nature. Birds singing, the pat-a-pat of rain on a rock, the low rumble of thunder, or a steady heartbeat are all noises and rhythms that still occur everyday all around us.
How it all began….. The earliest Man most likely tried to imitate these sounds by using their voices, hands and feet. Eventually, they created new sounds and rhythms by beating sticks or tools against trees and rocks. They also learned to make new sounds with their mouth such as whistles, humming, and singing.
How it all began….. Cont. Early humans began to repeat these sounds and tones in patterns. We now call these patterns songs. Eventually humans began to create special tools to make the sounds that they liked, called instruments.
How it all began….. Cont. The oldest musical instrument discovered is a flute. It is made from the hollow bone of a bear and is believed to be about 45,000 years old.
How it all began….. Cont. Since ancient music was not written down, not much is known about early music styles or songs. Most of what we know about music history begins in the middle ages.
Medieval Music During the Medieval period in history (450-1450), Christianity was the focal point of culture in Europe so almost all music was about God and worship. At that time music was mostly made up of one melody line with no background music. This is called monophony. These monophonic songs from the medieval period are referred to as Gregorian Chants, named after Pope Gregory, who was the leader of the Christian church from 590-640 A.D. During the later stages of the medieval period, music evolved to where two melody lines heard at the same time that were sung or played in harmony. This is called polyphony.
Renaissance Music The renaissance period (1450-1600) was a time of great change in music. People had a renewed interest in things like art and music and musicians had more freedom to be creative and show individual style. Sacred music, or church music, was still the most popular type of music. New musical instruments such as the clavichord and the lute were invented and became very popular. Also new printing technology developed during this time that allowed written music to be available to more people. The famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci belongs to this time period
Baroque Music Baroque (ba-roke) is a word used to describe a style that followed the renaissance in European music between the years 1600 and 1750. The word baroque means “strange” or “excessive”. Music in the baroque period was more difficult and complex than in the renaissance period. The music had more than one melody that could either harmonize or clash with the other. Recorders, still in use today, were a most popular instrument during the baroque period
Baroque Music Composers used loud, soft, fast and slow tones to make the listener understand a story or feel certain emotions. At this time secular music (non-church music) was becoming popular and the orchestra and opera were invented. An orchestra is group (ensemble) of instruments playing music together. An opera is a story with drama representation that is set to music. Vivaldi, composer of the four seasons concertos, and J.S. Bach, creator of many of today’s composing techniques, were two of the most prominent composers of the time
Classical Music The classical period in music history lasted for only 70 years, between 1750-1825; however there were many changes during this time. Strict rules were applied to music composition and the sounds were more balanced and restrained. Homophony, which is music that has one melody and background music, became popular. Joseph Haydn is considered as the father of the symphony and string quartets and, was the most influential composer of the era.
Classical Music New instruments such as the clarinet, flute and other instruments were added to the orchestra and new types songs, or musical compositions, were created to adapt to the new sounds. Two major composers of the classical era you may have heard of are Haydn and Mozart. W.A Mozart wrote hundreds of compositions even though he died at only 35 years of age, alone and broke.
Romantic Period Music Romantic period music (1850-1920) reflected the political and social changes that were taking place all around the world. Composers experimented with their music and showed much more creativity. Melody became the dominant feature of the music and used melodies to express nationalism (loyalty to a country or group of people). Beethoven is considered one of the greatest composers of all times
Romantic Period Music The opera and orchestra continued to be well-liked and new sounds were added. Virtuosos (a very skilled performer) became very popular. Singer, pianist and violinist were the most admired virtuosos of the period. It is said that Franz Liszt, a Hungarian composer, played the piano with so much emotion that women in the audience would faint while listening to him play. Tchaikovsky, composer of the famous Nutcracker ballet The pianoforte as we know it today was invented during the romantic period
Modern Music Music in the 20th century is considered to be mostly about rebellion, or going against tradition. In the early to mid 20th century many new music styles such as Jazz, Rock and Roll and Country were invented and have become enormously popular. Recorded music in every style has become available to everyone and it made listening to music more popular than ever.
Modern Music Technology has played a very important part in the evolution of modern music. New styles of music were created around instruments such as the electric guitar and keyboard. The use of computers has also had a huge influence on musical styles by allowing composers and musicians to manipulate sounds.
Where is it Going? You can now see that changes in music are based on the music from past generations. Sometimes a composer creates a new sound or style by building on the popular style of the day. Other times, a composer rebels against the popular style and creates something totally new and different.
As long as humans exist, we will continue to express ourselves through music, and music will continue to change with us. Where is it Going? Many styles were developed as an expression of a particular culture. For example, hiphop and rap music came out of inner city cultures. Country and Bluegrass music are a reflection of people that live and work outside of big cities.
Every new generation will create new sounds and styles that reflect their world. Just as your music is different from your parents, your children’s music will be different from yours. Where is it Going?