History of Music

Music is made up of three elements, including rhythm, melody, and harmony. Music began with beats, which is essentially rhythm. The cavemen banged a drum and rhythm was born. The next element, melody, was likely added several thousand years later. While one banged a drum, they hummed along or encouraged others to do so. Finally, harmony was added. This included two or more people humming or singing together, hitting a variety of notes to create a pleasant sound that meshed with the rhythm.

Today’s music can trace its roots all the way back to the original creation of music. During the Middle Ages, music began to evolve. The church played a major role in the development of music, as well as education, the social structure, and the arts of the time. It was during this time the Pope collected and created musical pieces in the form of chants. These chants are now known as Gregorian Chants because the Pope of the time was Saint Gregory. Gregorian Chants are composed of a single melody, which is one of the simplest forms of music.


Music grew and flourished during the Renaissance. Composers became very recognizable figures and several musical instruments were used to

History of Music

History of Music

create music. Music also began to develop outside of the church and included forms such as songs and madrigals. Composers created songs and musical pieces that included more than a single melody, many of which were composed in Latin.

The Baroque Era brought the emergence of opera music. The first opera written was Orfea, which was written by Claudio Monteverdi. The music was complicated and had a great deal of texture. It was also the source of many metaphors for life experiences and emotions. It was used as a means of expressing emotion or depicting the occurrences in the natural world. The most popular musical genre during this period was the concerto.

The Classical Period was next and brought the development of orchestras and musical harmony. This was the time in which Beethoven and Mozart composed their symphonies. This was followed by the Romantic Era, a time when music was filled with fantasy and sensitivity. Composers during this time include Tchaikovsky and Schubert.

20th Century Developments

As the 20th century began, music began to change a great deal. Much of the influence of the Romantic Era was still present, but there was a division between classical and popular music. There was a great deal of experimentation during this time and music was influenced by the industrial and technological developments that occurred. One such development had already occurred in 1877, when Thomas Edison invented the photograph. This made it possible for music to not only be recorded, but to be played back at a later time.

The new century brought some of the fastest and most extreme developments in music. By mid-century, the population was listening to rock and roll, popular folk, jazz, and rhythm and blues. Music was a cultural phenomenon, a way to rebel against authority and relate to other people in a person’s age group. Today, music is one of the most popular forms of communication and also includes genres such as R&B, hip hop, rap, electronica, New Age, and many more.

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