The origin of music is unknown as it occurred prior to recorded history. Some suggest that the origin of music likely stems from naturally occurring sounds and rhythms. Human music may echo these phenomena using patterns, repetition and tonality.
Chimpanzee lead guitarists are thin on the ground. The stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall sees few lemur violin virtuosos. Conventional wisdom has it that music is a relatively modern human invention, and one that, while fun and rewarding, is a luxury rather than a basic necessity of life.
This appears to be borne out by the archaeological evidence. While the first hand axes and spears date back about 1.7 million years and 500,000 years respectively, the earliest known musical instruments are just 40,000 years old
But dig a little deeper and the story becomes more interesting. While musical instruments appear to be a relatively recent innovation, music itself is almost certainly significantly older. Research suggests it may have allowed our distant ancestors to communicate before the invention of language, been linked to the establishment of monogamy and helped provide the social glue needed for the emergence of the first large early and pre-human societies.
There is also emerging evidence that music might have even deeper origins: some monkeys can distinguish between sound patterns in ways similar to how humans can recognise slight differences between melodies.
he earliest forms of music were probably drum-based, percussion instruments being the most readily available at the time (i.e. rocks, sticks). These simplest of simple instruments are thought to have been used in religious ceremonies as representations of animals. There was no notation or writing of this kind of "music" and its sounds can only be extrapolated from the music of (South) American Indians and African natives who still adhere to some of the ancient religious practices.
As for the more advanced instruments, their evolution was slow and steady. It is known that by 4000 BCE the Egyptians had created harps and flutes, and by 3500 BCE lyres and double-reeded clarinets had been developed.
In Denmark, by 2500 BCE an early form of the trumpet had been developed. This trumpet is what is now known as a "natural trumpet." It is valveless, and depends completely on manipulation of the lips to change pitch.
One of the most popular instruments today was created in 1500 BCE by the Hittites. I am talking about the guitar. This was a great step; the use of frets to change the pitch of a vibrating string would lead to later instruments such as the violin and harpsichord.
In 800 BCE the first recovered piece of recorded music was found. It was written in cuneiform and was a religious hymn. It should be noted that cuneiform is not a type of musical notation.
By 700 BCE there are records of songs that include vocals with instrumentals. This added a whole new dimension to music: accompaniment. Music in Ancient Rome and Greece
Greece was the root of all Classical art, so it's no coincidence that Classical music is rooted in Grecian innovations. In 600 BCE, famed mathematician Pythagorus dissected music as a science and developed the keystone of modern music: the octave scale. The importance of this event is obvious. Music was a passion of the Greeks. With their surplus of leisure time (thanks to slave labor) they were able to cultivate great artistic skills.
Trumpet competitions were common spectator events in Greece by 400 BCE. It was in Greece that the first bricks in music theory's foundation were layed. Aristotle wrote on music theory scientifically, and brought about a method of notation in 350 BCE. The work of that genius is still studied today.
The next significant step in music's evolution was by Boethius. In 521 CE he brought the Greek system of notation to Western Europe, allowing the musicians there to scribe accurately the folk songs of their lands. Incidentally, it was Boethius who first wrote on the idea of the opera.
Music in the Middle Ages
Most of the music created after Rome fell was commissioned by the church. The Catholic religion has a long history of involvement (for better or worse) with the musical arts. In 600 CE Pope Gregory had the Schola Cantarum built. This was the first music school in Europe.
Meanwhile in China, music was progressing also: it was reported that in 612 CE there were orchestras with hundreds of musicians performing for the assorted dynasties. Although the specific music from this period in China is unknown, the distinct style supposed to have developed there is reflected even in recent orchestral Asiatic pieces.
In 650 CE a new system of writing music was developed using "neumes" as a notation for groups of notes in music.
144 years after the Schola Cantarum was built, a singing school opened in the Monastery of Fuda, fueling the interest in musical vocation. And by 790 CE, there were splinters of the Schola Cantarum in Paris, Cologne and Metz. In 800 CE the great unifier Charlemagne had poems and psalms set to music. In 850 CE Catholic musicians had a breakthrough by inventing the church "modes." These modes would later metamorphose into today's major and minor scales. In 855 CE,
the first polyphonic (2 unrelated melodies/voices at once) piece was recorded, and by 1056 this polyphonic style replaced Gregorian chants as the music of choice (even after the Church made polyphonic music "illegal"; this ban was later lifted). In 980 CE, the great tome Antiphononium Codex Montpellier was scribed.
In 1000 CE Guido D'Arezzo made many improvements in music theory. He first improved and reworked standard notation to be more user-friendly by adding time signatures. Then he invented solfege. This is the vocal note scale: do, re, mi, fa, so, la ,ti, do. This innovation has affected almost every modern vocalist.
In 1100 CE, a new secular movement began. This separation of Church from music was a straddling one, and soon this new "folk" music was looked down upon as pagan and borderline blasphemous.
On the dawn of the Renaissance in 1465 the printing press was first used to print music. By using a press a composer could organize his pieces and profit from them with great ease. In 1490 Boethius's writings on opera were republished in Italian.
With the onset of the Renaissance, the rules of music were about to change drastically. This was the beginning of a new enlightened age that would showcase some of the greatest musical minds ever produced.
So, what is music? This is difficult to answer, as everyone has their own idea. "Sound that conveys emotion," is what Jeremy Montagu, of the University of Oxford and author of the article, describes as his. A mother humming or crooning to calm her baby would probably count as music, using this definition, and this simple music probably predated speech.
But where do we draw the line between music and speech? You might think that rhythm, pattern and controlling pitch are important in music, but these things can also apply when someone recites a sonnet or speaks with heightened emotion. Montagu concludes that "each of us in our own way can say 'Yes, this is music', and 'No, that is speech'."
So, when did our ancestors begin making music? If we take singing, then controlling pitch is important. Scientists have studied the fossilized skulls and jaws of early apes, to see if they were able to vocalize and control pitch. About a million years ago, the common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans had the vocal anatomy to "sing" like us, but it's impossible to know if they did.
Another important component of music is rhythm. Our early ancestors may have created rhythmic music by clapping their hands. This may be linked to the earliest musical instruments, when somebody realized that smacking stones or sticks together doesn't hurt your hands as much. Many of these instruments are likely to have been made from soft materials like wood or reeds, and so haven't survived. What have survived are bone pipes.
Some of the earliest ever found are made from swan and vulture wing bones and are between 39,000 and 43,000 years old. Other ancient instruments have been found in surprising places. For example, there is evidence that people struck stalactites or "rock gongs" in caves dating from 12,000 years ago, with the caves themselves acting as resonators for the sound.
So, we know that music is old, and may have been with us from when humans first evolved. But why did it arise and why has it persisted? There are many possible functions for music. One is dancing. It is unknown if the first dancers created a musical accompaniment, or if music led to people moving rhythmically.
Another obvious reason for music is entertainment, which can be personal or communal. Music can also be used for communication, often over large distances, using instruments such as drums or horns. Yet another reason for music is ritual, and virtually every religion uses music.
However, the major reason that music arose and persists may be that it brings people together. "Music leads to bonding, such as bonding between mother and child or bonding between groups," explains Montagu. "Music keeps workers happy when doing repetitive and otherwise boring work, and helps everyone to move together, increasing the force of their work.
Dancing or singing together before a hunt or warfare binds participants into a cohesive group." He concludes: "It has even been suggested that music, in causing such bonding, created not only the family but society itself, bringing individuals together who might otherwise have led solitary lives."