History of Music

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Music is an integral part of every culture and society. After all, it’s the universal language and it brings people together regardless of religion, background and race. The type of music varies from the time and place. It is believed that the first music was created in the continent of Africa and spread around the world at the start of human migration. It has since evolved as a huge part of our lives and a wide range of instruments that produce music were made.

The music that exists in each culture is often a reflection of the culture’s view on musicians and composers. It is most likely influenced by a lot of factors like economy, technology, religion and social structures. All throughout human history, music has expressed the ideas and emotions of time when it was created.

Prehistoric Music

All music created sometime in very late geological history is commonly referred to as prehistoric or primitive music. Most prehistoric music has non-European origins. For instance, traditional Native American music and Australian Aboriginal music are considered prehistoric music. The actual origin of music remains unknown. However, historians suggest that music might have originated from sounds and rhythms of nature. Even today, some cultures try to imitate natural sounds through their music. Recent archeological finds suggest that humans had been playing music using musical instruments made from bones of animals as early as 60,000 years ago.

Ancient Music

Ancient music refers to any music created following the prehistoric era. At this point in human history, cultures had flourished around the world and great civilizations had been established. A Hurrian song from ancient Syria is considered to be the world’s oldest known song. It dates back to 3,400 years ago and was written in cuneiform. The Seikilos epitaph which dates back from the 2nd century AD is the oldest example of a complete musical composition.

Many musical instruments were also invented and created during this time. Double pipes, bagpipes, and flutes were popular in ancient Greece. Ravanahatha, a bowed stringed instrument, was popular in ancient India. Historians recognise this particular instrument as the oldest string instrument in world history.

Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical Music

This period spans from 500 to the early 1800s. During the Middle Ages, orchestras started to become popular and most music was heavily influenced by religion. When the printing press was invented during the Renaissance, print music became widely available. Musical styles were shared among European composers and musicians.

Modern music

Advancement in technology and innovation made music increasingly portable and available to a wide audience. The invention of the radio transformed how people listen to music while electronic devices like synthesizers and electronic guitars expanded the genre of music and exposed people to pop music.

The music industry grew exponentially as music became a huge part of the everyday lives of people. Nowadays, people have access to music through the internet via streaming and digital downloads.


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