Thursday, June 16, 2011

The History Of Music

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The History of Music

My report is going to be the history of music. It will include the different types of

music from the periods and the major composers from each period in time. I will be

Order Custom The History Of Music paper

talking about the music from


Most of the music from ancient Greece is known mostly through literature that

would talk about people singing and instruments being played rather than through

actual written music. In Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey there were many references to

music. There were hymns to praise Apollos, and music was said to have great power

or ethos over human beings. One instrument refered to in documents is the Kithara,

which was plucked and said to be played by Apollo (the god of the Sun and of reason).

The Aulos was was a loud double reeded instrument which was played by Dionysus

(the god of wine and ecstatic revelry). The most important mythical musicians was

Orpheus, whose music was said to have the power to make inanimate objects move

and influence the power of Hades (the god of the underworld).

Musicians who existed in reality as well as legend

-Tarpander of Lesbos(7th century B.C.E.) He was the founder of lyric kithara


-Pindar of Thebes(6th-5th century B.C.E) His odes represented the rise of

Greek choral music.

-Timotheus of Miletus (5th-4th century B.C.E) He was a virtuoso performer on

the kithara whose inventions contributed to his infamy as well as his fame.

Pythagoras of Samos play the most important role in the development of

Greek music. Pythagoras was a mathematician and philosopher who discovered the

mathematical rationale of musical consonance from the weights of hammers used by

smiths. He discovered that he interval of an octave is rooted by certain ratios.

Musicians used the ratio and applied it to how long the strings on their instruments

were. These instruments made were called the Canon and Monochord. Music then

became a branch of mathematics as well as an art. Little of ancient greek music has



The Medieval period was most famous for the Gregorian chant. It was organized

by Saint Gregory, who lived from 50 to 604 A.D. The Medieval period lasted from 0 to

1400 A.D. The Medieval period was also known as the Antiquity.

The first musical notation recorded was dated from

00 A.D. Notating music developed very gradually and that is one of the principal

difficulties in finding proof of physical notation on paper. For several centuries the

notation only indcated what pitch (or note) to sing in. The system for notatating rhythm

started in the 1th or 1th century.

The Gregorian chant is a term meaning music that only contains only one

melodic line without accompaniment. All recorded music of the Gregorian chant are not

containing the name of who wrote them.

Music where two or more melodic lines are heard at the same time, either did not

exist at that time or just were not notated until the 11th century.

Medieval music was mostly only voices and no instruments at all. Women and

children were never allowed to be in any music at all. There was no harmony and no

chords or chord rhythm in the music. These are some of the important composers from

that time Pope Gregory (Gregorian Chants), Saint Augustine, Boethius (he was an

important theorist), Hildegard von Bingen (108-117), Perotin (c. 1155-177),

Quillaume de Machaut (c. 100- 177) John Dunstable (c. 185- 145), and Guillaume

Dufay (c. 1400- 1474).


The Renaissance was a time of rebirth in learning, science, and the arts

throughout Europe. Throughout the Renaissance instrumental dance music was

composed by many people like Michail Praetorius and Tielan Susato. The

Renaissance was the “Golden Age of Polyphony”.

These are some of the more important composers of the time

-Josquin des Prez was born 1440a.d. and died August 7, 151. He studied

under Johannes Ockeghem (c.140-145), who was the first great master of the

Flemish school of Renaissance composes. Josquin served at several courts in Italy

and France, and at the Sistine Chapel in Rome. He died while serving as canon of the

collegiate church at Conde. There are a dozen of his masses, a hundred of his motets,

and many of his secular music still surviving of his works.

Polyphony is the simultaneous interweaving of several melodic lines (usually for

soprano, alto, tenor, bass) in a musical composition. Polyphonic music of the

Renaissance was very complex and intricate and twisted the words around to where

the words didn’t sound like words or make any sense.

-Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was born in Palestrina, near Rome in 155 and

died in Rome February , 154. Palestrina spent most of his career in Rome, working

as a organist and a choir master at the Sistine Chapel and at St. Peter’s. He wrote

over a hundred mass settings and over two hundred motets as a composer. His

polyphonic writing was so wonderful and high quality that later composers including

Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms used and studied the “Palestrina style”, which was a

book written in 175a.d. by J. J. Fux that taught the style of notation that Palestrina


The English Madrigal was a body of music used by composers and poets

around 1600 in England. The Madrigal is a song that is always sad and beautiful about

lost or spurned love. There were many madrigalists in England that wrote only that

king of music. Queen Elizabeth I actually played songs and ayres of madrigalists on

her lute which was one of her hobbies at that time.


Baroque era covers the period between 1600 and 1750 beginning with

Monteverdi (birth of opera) and ending with the deaths of Bach and Handel. Baroque

music concur to those in Baroque art and literature. Music from the Baroque period told

stories and made the words sound like they were drawing a picture. Opera was

introduced in this period which made music more affectionate and made music start to

have more melodic freedom. In early Baroque music the tones in the voices existed but

experiments with harmony led to the creation of tonality.

Baroque music represented the emotions of real life which was thought to excite

or move the listener. Italian Baroque music expressed emotions the best out of all other

types of Baroque music from that period.

Renaissance music (stile antico) was so rigid and structured and learnt by academic

training. The new concept (stile moderno) was a of spontaneous expression. Both

practices existed side by side. Some composers used both styles; stile antico in church

music and stile moderno in secular vocal music. One of the most important creations of

Baroque was the concept of contrast as in Baroque art (like loud and soft, solo and

tutti, high and low, fast and slow). Numerous composers used the concerto or

concertanto style (meaning a style with a marked contrasting element). The term

Baroque denotes the inner stylistic unity of the period. The most important unifying

feature of all Baroque music is the characteristic accompanying part, the basso

continuo (Baroque era is usually referred to as the ‘thorough-bass period’). A bass line

is followed by a continuo player(s) above which a figure is written to indicate what

additional notes should be played to fill in the harmony (figured bass). A typical

Baroque piece consists of a melodic line for a voice (more typically two melodic lines as

in trio sonata), a bass line for a continuo instrument such as cello or bassoon playing

the written line, and a plucked (chitarrone) or keyboard instrument (harpsichord or

organ) playing the figured chords (mainly improvising) to fill the intervening space

between the two poles. The results is the polarity of outer parts.

Baroque music has unique idioms (specific style/character) and it is an idiomatic form.

Composers began to write music specifically for a particular medium, such as the violin

or the solo voice, rather than music with interchangeable or no idioms that might be

either sung or played by almost any combination of voices and instruments, as had

previously been the case. Before 1600, as the church had been the centre of music,

vocal music had been dominating, and the instrumental music had been written for any

instrument. After 1600, the violin became the main instrument and developed its

idioms. Instrumental and vocal styles began to be differentiated, eventually becoming

so distinct that the composers could borrow vocal idioms in instrumental writing, and

vice versa. This transfer of idioms between instruments forms one of the most

fascinating aspects of Baroque music. In the late Baroque music, a rich interchange

and interpenetration of idioms is observed, i.e., transfer of lute ornaments to keyboard

or vocal techniques to violin. Nobody can mistake the violin character of a Baroque

concerto grosso (persistent figuration to maintain the same affekt).

The Baroque preference for extreme contrast had a decisive influence on the range of

musical instruments. The desire for deeper bass resulted in lowering the register of

harpsichord and organ, addition of bass strings to the lute and enlargement of the lute

family by bigger members. The double bassoon and contrabass trombone were

created. With its treble character, the violin became the queen of the instruments.

Among the wind instruments, the bassoon and shawm, reborn as oboe, survived. At the

close of the seventeenth century, the French horn and clarinet were added to the wind

ensemble. Because of their quiet sound in the enlarging ensemble, the viol family,

recorder and harpsichord did not have a long life span and eventually became


In Renaissance , harmony was the master of the word; in Baroque music, however, the

word is the master of harmony or, music is subservient to the words. The outermost

voices (bass and soprano) acquired a dominant position forming the skeleton of the

composition. The rest could be filled in by the improvising continuo player in this

structural contour. Choral music had risen to its apogee in the 16th century and the turn

of instrumental music had come.

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