Living in the modern world, a person can hardly over emphasize the importance of music in culture and society. Music is playing a very important role but somehow quietly.
Music is found in every society and culture, past and present, varying with time and place. All the people of the world including isolated tribes have some kind of music. The world “Music” comes from the Ancient Greek muses, who were the nine goddesses of art and science. Music actually began around 500 B.C. when Pythagoras experimented with acoustics and how math related to tones formed from plucking strings. The main form of music during the middle Ages was the Gregorian chant, named for Pope Gregory I. This music was used in the Catholic Churches to enhance the services. Some people believe that music may have been evolved somewhere in Africa.
Music has rapidly flourished through the ages depending upon the people and their taste for tones and poetry. A culture’s music is predisposed by all other features of that culture, including social and economic organization and experience, climate, and access to technology. The sentiments and ideas that music expresses, the situations in which music is played and listened to, and the attitudes toward music players and composers all vary between regions and periods.
There are various ages of the evolution of music. Preliterate cultures produced the music what we call prehistoric or primitive music. There are majorly six periods of music evolution; Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and the Contemporary.
Medieval period is the longest and most distant period of musical history. The music probably mutated as it was passed down through generations and eventually reached its notated form. Most of the music of this period is anonymous.
In the mid-1500s, a prominent bishop commented that music composed for the church should reflect the meaning of the words so that the listeners would be moved to piety. This concept seems like a no-brainer today, but it was a fairly new idea at the time.
But, it was the rediscovery of ancient Greek ideals in the Renaissance that inspired many musicians to explore the eloquent possibilities of their art. Unlike most of their medieval predecessors, the great masters of the Renaissance were revered in their own lifetimes. The technique of printing music, while slow to evolve, helped in the preservation and distribution of music and musical ideas.
Baroque music is often highly ornate, colorful and richly textured when compared with its predecessors.
Opera was born at what is considered to be the very beginning of the Baroque era, around 1600. This unique form combines poetry, theater, the visual arts and music. It came about because a group of Italian intellectuals wanted to recapture the spirit of ancient Greek drama in which music played a key role. The first great opera was Orfeo, by Claudio Monteverdi, first performed in 1607. Music’s ability to express human emotions and depict natural phenomenon was explored throughout the Baroque period.
The word Classical has strong connotations, conjuring up the art and philosophy of Ancient Greece and Rome along with their ideals of balance, proportion and disciplined expression. The late Baroque style was polyphonically complex and melodically ornate. The composers of the early Classical period changed direction, writing music that was much simpler in texture.
Homophony–music in which melody and accompaniment are distinct–dominated the Classical style, and new forms of composition were developed to accommodate the transformation. One of the most important developments of the Classical period is the growth of the public concert.
Just as the word “Classical” conjures up certain images, Romantic is at least as evocative. Beethoven is in some ways responsible for igniting the flame of romanticism. Many composers of the Romantic period followed Beethoven’s model and found their own balance between emotional intensity and Classical form. Others reveled in the new atmosphere of artistic freedom and created music who’s Structure was designed to support its emotional surges.
Nationalism became a driving force in the late Romantic period and composers wanted their music to express their cultural identity. This desire was particularly intense in Russia and Eastern Europe, where elements of folk music were incorporated into symphonies, tone poems and other “Classical” forms.
Why do musical styles change? The “evolution” of music is at least partly shaped by the influence one composer has on another. These influences are not always positive, however. Sometimes composers react against the music of their recent past (even though they might admire it) and move in what seems to be the opposite direction. For example, the simplified style of the early Classical period was almost certainly a reaction to the extreme intricacies of the late Baroque.
The late Romantic period featured its own extremes: sprawling symphonies and tone poems overflowing with music that seemed to stretch harmony and melody to their limits. It is certainly possible to view some early 20th century music as an extension of the late Romantic style, but a great deal of it can also be interpreted as a reaction against that style.
Technology has played an increasingly important role in the development of 20th century music. Composers have used recording tape as a compositional tool.
No matter what, music has remained very important tool of expression of language and ideas throughout the history. It has been a successful tool that divinely and elegantly expressed human emotions and is harmonized with the color of human soul. From the sounds of instruments to the inaudible sounds of nature springs the music.
By: Aimon Malghani