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For other uses, see Music (disambiguation).Music

Music lesson Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2421.jpg

Major formsDance · Music · Opera · Theatre · Circus

Minor formsMagic · Puppetry · Mime

GenresDrama · Tragedy · Comedy · Tragicomedy · Romance · Satire · Epic · Lyric

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Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; “art of the Muses“).[1]

The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions (and their recreation in performance), through improvisational music to aleatoric forms. Music can be divided into genres and subgenres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to individual interpretation, and occasionally controversial. Within “the arts“, music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art, and auditory art. It may also be divided among “art music” and “folk music“. There is also a strong connection between music and mathematics.[2] Music may be played and heard live, may be part of a dramatic work or film, or may be recorded.

To many people in many cultures, music is an important part of their way of life. Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies and vertically as harmonies. Common sayings such as “the harmony of the spheres” and “it is music to my ears” point to the notion that music is often ordered and pleasant to listen to. However, 20th-century composer John Cage thought that any sound can be music, saying, for example, “There is no noise, only sound.”[3] Musicologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez summarizes the relativist, post-modern viewpoint: “The border between music and noise is always culturally defined—which implies that, even within a single society, this border does not always pass through the same place; in short, there is rarely a consensus … By all accounts there is no single and intercultural universal concept defining what music might be.”[4]


  1. 1 History

  2. 1.1 Prehistoric eras

  3. 1.2 Ancient Egypt

  4. 1.3 References in the Bible

  5. 1.4 Antiquity

  6. 1.4.1 Ancient Greece

  7. 1.5 The Middle Ages

  8. 1.6 The Renaissance

  9. 1.7 The Baroque

  10. 1.8 Classicism

  11. 1.9 Romanticism

  12. 1.10 Asian cultures

  13. 1.11 20th- and 21st-century music

  14. 2 Performance

  15. 2.1 Aural tradition

  16. 2.2 Ornamentation

  17. 3 Production

  18. 3.1 Composition

  19. 3.2 Notation

  20. 3.3 Improvisation

  21. 3.4 Theory

  22. 4 Cognition

  23. 5 Sociology

  24. 6 Media and technology

  25. 6.1 Internet

  26. 7 Business

  27. 8 Education

  28. 8.1 Non-professional

  29. 8.2 Academia

  30. 8.3 Ethnomusicology

  31. 9 Music therapy

  32. 10 See also

  33. 11 References

  34. 12 Further reading

  35. 13 External links


Main article: History of music

Prehistoric eras

Main article: Prehistoric music

Prehistoric music can only be theorized based on findings from paleolithic archaeology sites. Flutes are often discovered, carved from bones in which lateral holes have been pierced; these are thought to have been blown at one end like the Japanese shakuhachi. The Divje Babe flute, carved from a cave bear femur, is thought to be at least 40,000 years old. Instruments such as the seven-holed flute and various types of stringed instruments have been recovered from the Indus Valley Civilization archaeological sites.[5] India has one of the oldest musical traditions in the world—references to Indian classical music (marga) are found in the Vedas, ancient scriptures of the Hindu tradition.[6] The earliest and largest collection of prehistoric musical instruments was found in China and dates back to between 7000 and 6600 BC.[7] The Hurrian song, found on clay tablets that date back to approximately 1400 BC, is the oldest surviving notated work of music.

Ancient Egypt

Main article: Music of Egypt

Musicians of Amun, Tomb of Nakht, 18th Dynasty, Western Thebes.

The ancient Egyptians credited one of their gods, Thoth, with the invention of music, which Osiris in turn used as part of his effort to civilize the world. The earliest material and representational evidence of Egyptian musical instruments dates to the Predynastic period, but the evidence is more securely attested in the Old Kingdom when harps, flutes and double clarinets were played.[8] Percussion instruments, lyres and lutes were added to orchestras by the Middle Kingdom. Cymbals[9] frequently accompanied music and dance, much as they still do in Egypt today. Egyptian folk music, including the traditional Sufi dhikr rituals, are the closest contemporary music genre to ancient Egyptian music, having preserved many of its features, rhythms and instruments.[10][11]

References in the Bible

Main article: History of music in the biblical period

Music and theatre scholars studying the history and anthropology of Semitic and early Judeo-Christian culture have discovered common links in theatrical and musical activity between the classical cultures of the Hebrews and those of later Greeks and Romans. The common area of performance is found in a “social phenomenon called litany,” a form of prayer consisting of a series of invocations or supplications. The Journal of Religion and Theatre notes that among the earliest forms of litany, “Hebrew litany was accompanied by a rich musical tradition:”[12]“While Genesis 4.21 identifies Jubal as the “father of all such as handle the harp and pipe,” the Pentateuch is nearly silent about the practice and instruction of music in the early life of Israel. Then, in I Samuel 10 and the texts that follow, a curious thing happens. “One finds in the biblical text,” writes Alfred Sendrey, “a sudden and unexplained upsurge of large choirs and orchestras, consisting of thoroughly organized and trained musical groups, which would be virtually inconceivable without lengthy, methodical preparation.” This has led some scholars to believe that the prophet Samuel was the patriarch of a school, which taught not only prophets and holy men, but also sacred-rite musicians. This public music school, perhaps the earliest in recorded history, was not restricted to a priestly class—which is how the shepherd boy David appears on the scene as a minstrel to King Saul.”[12]


Western cultures have had a major influence on the development of music. The history of the music of the Western cultures can be traced back to Ancient Greece times.

Ancient Greece

Music was an important part of social and cultural life in Ancient Greece. Musicians and singers played a prominent role in Greek theater.[13] Mixed-gender choruses performed for entertainment, celebration, and spiritual ceremonies.[14] Instruments included the double-reed aulos and a plucked string instrument, the lyre, principally the special kind called a kithara. Music was an important part of education, and boys were taught music starting at age six. Greek musical literacy created a flowering of music development. Greek music theory included the Greek musical modes, that eventually became the basis for Western religious and classical music. Later, influences from the Roman Empire, Eastern Europe, and the Byzantine Empire changed Greek music. The Seikilos epitaph is the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world.

The Middle AgesLéonin or Pérotin Breves dies hominis

Breves dies hominis.ogg

The medieval era (476 AD to 1400 AD) started with the introduction of chanting into Roman Catholic Church services. Western Music then started becoming more of an art form with the advances in music notation. The only European Medieval repertory that survives from before about 800 is the monophonic liturgical plainsong of the Roman Catholic Church, the central tradition of which was called Gregorian chant. Alongside these traditions of sacred and church music there existed a vibrant tradition of secular song. Examples of composers from this period are Léonin, Pérotin and Guillaume de Machaut. From the Renaissance music era, much of the surviving music of 14th-century Europe is secular. By the middle of the 15th century, composers and singers used a smooth polyphony for sacred musical compositions. Prominent composers from this era are Guillaume Dufay, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Thomas Morley, and Orlande de Lassus.

The RenaissanceT.L. de Victoria Amicus meus


Allegory of Music, by Filippino Lippi

Renaissance music (c. 1400 A.D. to 1600 A.D.) was more focused on secular themes. Around 1450, the printing press was invented, and that helped to disseminate musical styles more quickly and across a larger area. Thus, music could play an increasingly important role in daily life. Musicians worked for the church, courts and towns. Church choirs grew in size, and the church remained an important patron of music. However, musical activity shifted to the courts. Kings and princes competed for the finest composers.

Many leading important composers came from Holland, Belgium, and northern France, called the Franco-Flemish composers. They held important positions throughout Europe, especially in Italy. Other countries with vibrant musical lives include Germany, England, and Spain.

The BaroqueJ.S.Bach Toccata und Fuge

Toccata et Fugue BWV565.ogg

The Baroque era of music took place from 1600 to 1750, as the Baroque artistic style flourished across Europe; and during this time, music expanded in its range and complexity. Baroque music began when the first operas were written and when contrapuntal music became prevalent. German Baroque composers wrote for small ensembles including strings, brass, and woodwinds, as well as choirs, pipe organ, harpsichord, and clavichord. During this period several major music forms were defined that lasted into later periods when they were expanded and evolved further, including the fugue, the invention, the sonata, and the concerto.[15] The late Baroque style was polyphonically complex and ornamental and rich in its melodies. Composers from the Baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Georg Philipp Telemann.

ClassicismW.A. Mozart Symphony 40 g-moll

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphony 40 g-moll - 1. Molto allegro.ogg

The music of the Classical Period (1750 A.D. to 1830 A.D.) looked to the art and philosophy of Ancient Greece and Rome, to the ideals of balance, proportion and disciplined expression. It has a lighter, clearer and considerably simpler texture, and tended to be almost voicelike and singable. New genres were discovered. The main style was the homophony,[16] where prominent melody and accompaniment are clearly distinct.

Importance was given to instrumental music. It was dominated by further evolution of musical forms initially defined in the Baroque period: the sonata, the concerto, and the symphony. Others main kinds were trio, string quartet, serenade and divertimento. The sonata was the most important and developed form. Although Baroque composers also wrote sonatas, the Classical style of sonata is completely distinct. All of the main instrumental forms of the Classical era were based on the dramatic structure of the sonata.

One of the most important evolutionary steps made in the Classical period was the development of public concerts. The aristocracy would still play a significant role in the sponsorship of musical life, but it was now possible for composers to survive without being its permanent employees. The increasing popularity led to a growth in both the number and range of the orchestras. The expansion of orchestral concerts necessitated large public spaces. As a result of all these processes, symphonic music (including opera, ballet and oratorio) became more extroverted.

The best known composers of Classicism are Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Johann Christian Bach, Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert. Beethoven and Schubert are also considered to be composers in evolution towards Romanticism.

RomanticismR. Wagner Die Walküre

Wagner - die walkure fantasie.ogg

Romantic Music (c. 1810 A.D. to 1900 A.D.) turned the rigid styles and forms of the Classical era into more passionate and expressive pieces. It attempted to increase emotional expression and power to describe deeper truths or human feelings. The emotional and expressive qualities of music came to take precedence over technique and tradition. Romantic composers grew in idiosyncrasy, and went further in the syncretism of different art-forms (such as literature), history (historical figures), or nature itself with music. Romantic love was a prevalent theme in many works composed during this period. In some cases the formal structures from the classical period were preserved, but in many others existing genres, forms, and functions were improved. Also, new forms were created that were deemed better suited to the new subject matter. Opera and ballet continued to evolve.[13]

In 1800, the music developed by Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert introduced a more dramatic, expressive style. In Beethoven’s case, motifs, developed organically, came to replace melody as the most significant compositional unit. Later Romantic composers such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Antonín Dvořák, and Gustav Mahler used more elaborated chords and more dissonance to create dramatic tension. They generated complex and often much longer musical works. During Romantic period tonality was at its peak. The late 19th century saw a dramatic expansion in the size of the orchestra, and in the role of concerts as part of urban society. It also saw a new diversity in theatre music, including operetta, and musical comedy and other forms of musical theatre.[13]

Asian culturesGangubai Hangal Durga

Gangubai Hangal - Raga Durga 1935.ogg

Indian classical music is one of the oldest musical traditions in the world.[17] The Indus Valley civilization has sculptures that show dance[18] and old musical instruments, like the seven holed flute. Various types of stringed instruments and drums have been recovered from Harrappa and Mohenjo Daro by excavations carried out by Sir Mortimer Wheeler.[19] The Rigveda has elements of present Indian music, with a musical notation to denote the metre and the mode of chanting.[20] Indian classical music (marga) is monophonic, and based on a single melody line or raga rhythmically organized through talas. Hindustani music was influenced by the Persian performance practices of the Afghan Mughals. Carnatic music popular in the southern states, is largely devotional; the majority of the songs are addressed to the Hindu deities. There are a lot of songs emphasising love and other social issues.

Asian music covers the music cultures of Arabia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Chinese classical music, the traditional art or court music of China, has a history stretching over around three thousand years. It has its own unique systems of musical notation, as well as musical tuning and pitch, musical instruments and styles or musical genres. Chinese music is pentatonic-diatonic, having a scale of twelve notes to an octave (5 + 7 = 12) as does European-influenced music. Persian music is the music of Persia and Persian language countries: musiqi, the science and art of music, and muzik, the sound and performance of music (Sakata 1983). See also: Music of Iran, Music of Afghanistan, Music of Tajikistan, Music of Uzbekistan.

20th- and 21st-century music

Main article: 20th-century music

Double bassist Reggie Workman, tenor saxophone player Pharoah Sanders, and drummer Idris Muhammad performing in 1978

With 20th-century music, there was a vast increase in music listening as the radio gained popularity and phonographs were used to replay and distribute music. The focus of art music was characterized by exploration of new rhythms, styles, and sounds. Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and John Cage were all influential composers in 20th-century art music. The invention of sound recording and the ability to edit music gave rise to new sub-genre of classical music, including the acousmatic [21] and Musique concrète schools of electronic composition.

Jazz evolved and became an important genre of music over the course of the 20th century, and during the second half of that century, rock music did the same. Jazz is an American musical artform that originated in the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States from a confluence of African and European music traditions. The style’s West African pedigree is evident in its use of blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and the swung note.[22] From its early development until the present, jazz has also incorporated music from 19th- and 20th-century American popular music.[23] Jazz has, from its early-20th-century inception, spawned a variety of subgenres, ranging from New Orleans Dixieland (1910s) to 1970s and 1980s-era jazz-rock fusion.

Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed in the 1960s from 1950s rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, and country music. The sound of rock often revolves around the electric guitar or acoustic guitar, and it uses a strong back beat laid down by a rhythm section of electric bass guitar, drums, and keyboard instruments such as organ, piano, or, since the 1970s, analog synthesizers and digital ones and computers since the 1990s. Along with the guitar or keyboards, saxophone and blues-style harmonica are used as soloing instruments. In its “purest form,” it “has three chords, a strong, insistent back beat, and a catchy melody.”[24] In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it branched out into different subgenres, ranging from blues rock and jazz-rock fusion to heavy metal and punk rock, as well as the more classical influenced genre of progressive rock and several types of experimental rock genres.


Main article: Performance

Chinese Naxi musicians

Performance is the physical expression of music. Often, a musical work is performed once its structure and instrumentation are satisfactory to its creators; however, as it gets performed, it can evolve and change. A performance can either be rehearsed or improvised. Improvisation is a musical idea created without premeditation, while rehearsal is vigorous repetition of an idea until it has achieved cohesion. Musicians will sometimes add improvisation to a well-rehearsed idea to create a unique performance.

Many cultures include strong traditions of solo and performance, such as in Indian classical music, and in the Western art-music tradition. Other cultures, such as in Bali, include strong traditions of group performance. All cultures include a mixture of both, and performance may range from improvised solo playing for one’s enjoyment to highly planned and organised performance rituals such as the modern classical concert, religious processions, music festivals or music competitions. Chamber music, which is music for a small ensemble with only a few of each type of instrument, is often seen as more intimate than symphonic works.

Aural tradition

Many types of music, such as traditional blues and folk music were originally preserved in the memory of performers, and the songs were handed down orally, or aurally (by ear). When the composer of music is no longer known, this music is often classified as “traditional.” Different musical traditions have different attitudes towards how and where to make changes to the original source material, from quite strict, to those that demand improvisation or modification to the music. A culture’s history may also be passed by ear through song.


Main article: Ornament (music)

In a score or on a performer’s music part, this sign indicates that the musician should perform a trill—a rapid alternation between two notes.

About this sound

The detail included explicitly in the music notation varies between genres and historical periods. In general, art music notation from the 17th through the 19th century required performers to have a great deal of contextual knowledge about performing styles. For example, in the 17th and 18th century, music notated for solo performers typically indicated a simple, unadorned melody. However, performers were expected to know how to add stylistically appropriate ornaments, such as trills and turns. In the 19th century, art music for solo performers may give a general instruction such as to perform the music expressively, without describing in detail how the performer should do this. The performer was expected to know how to use tempo changes, accentuation, and pauses (among other devices) to obtain this “expressive” performance style. In the 20th century, art music notation often became more explicit and used a range of markings and annotations to indicate to performers how they should play or sing the piece.

In popular music and jazz, music notation almost always indicates only the basic framework of the melody, harmony, or performance approach; musicians and singers are expected to know the performance conventions and styles associated with specific genres and pieces. For example, the “lead sheet” for a jazz tune may only indicate the melody and the chord changes. The performers in the jazz ensemble are expected to know how to “flesh out” this basic structure by adding ornaments, improvised music, and chordal accompaniment.


Main article: Music production

Jean-Gabriel Ferlan performing at a 2008 concert at the collège-lycée Saint-François Xavier

Music is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Amateur musicians compose and perform music for their own pleasure, and they do not derive their income from music. Professional musicians are employed by a range of institutions and organisations, including armed forces, churches and synagogues, symphony orchestras, broadcasting or film production companies, and music schools. Professional musicians sometimes work as freelancers, seeking contracts and engagements in a variety of settings.

There are often many links between amateur and professional musicians. Beginning amateur musicians take lessons with professional musicians. In community settings, advanced amateur musicians perform with professional musicians in a variety of ensembles and orchestras. In some cases, amateur musicians attain a professional level of competence, and they are able to perform in professional performance settings. A distinction is often made between music performed for the benefit of a live audience and music that is performed for the purpose of being recorded and distributed through the music retail system or the broadcasting system. However, there are also many cases where a live performance in front of an audience is recorded and distributed (or broadcast).


Main article: Musical composition

An old songbook showing a composition

“Composition” is often classed as the creation and recording of music via a medium by which others can interpret it (i.e., paper or sound). Many cultures use at least part of the concept of preconceiving musical material, or composition, as held in western classical music. Even when music is notated precisely, there are still many decisions that a performer has to make. The process of a performer deciding how to perform music that has been previously composed and notated is termed interpretation. Different performers’ interpretations of the same music can vary widely. Composers and song writers who present their own music are interpreting, just as much as those who perform the music of others or folk music. The standard body of choices and techniques present at a given time and a given place is referred to as performance practice, whereas interpretation is generally used to mean either individual choices of a performer, or an aspect of music that is not clear, and therefore has a “standard” interpretation.

In some musical genres, such as jazz and blues, even more freedom is given to the performer to engage in improvisation on a basic melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic framework. The greatest latitude is given to the performer in a style of performing called free improvisation, which is material that is spontaneously “thought of” (imagined) while being performed, not preconceived. Improvised music usually follows stylistic or genre conventions and even “fully composed” includes some freely chosen material. Composition does not always mean the use of notation, or the known sole authorship of one individual. Music can also be determined by describing a “process” that creates musical sounds. Examples of this range from wind chimes, through computer programs that select sounds. Music from random elements is called Aleatoric music, and is associated with such composers as John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Witold Lutosławski.

Music can be composed for repeated performance or it can be improvised: composed on the spot. The music can be performed entirely from memory, from a written system of musical notation, or some combination of both. Study of composition has traditionally been dominated by examination of methods and practice of Western classical music, but the definition of composition is broad enough to include spontaneously improvised works like those of free jazz performers and African drummers such as the Ewe drummers.


Main article: Musical notation

Sheet music is written representation of music. This is a homorhythmic (i.e., hymn-style) arrangement of a traditional piece entitled “Adeste Fideles“, in standard two-staff format for mixed voices.

About this sound

Notation is the written expression of music notes and rhythms on paper using symbols. When music is written down, the pitches and rhythm of the music is notated, along with instructions on how to perform the music. The study of how to read notation involves music theory, harmony, the study of performance practice, and in some cases an understanding of historical performance methods. Written notation varies with style and period of music. In Western Art music, the most common types of written notation are scores, which include all the music parts of an ensemble piece, and parts, which are the music notation for the individual performers or singers. In popular music, jazz, and blues, the standard musical notation is the lead sheet, which notates the melody, chords, lyrics (if it is a vocal piece), and structure of the music. Scores and parts are also used in popular music and jazz, particularly in large ensembles such as jazz “big bands.”

In popular music, guitarists and electric bass players often read music notated in tablature (often abbreviated as “tab”), which indicates the location of the notes to be played on the instrument using a diagram of the guitar or bass fingerboard. Tabulature was also used in the Baroque era to notate music for the lute, a stringed, fretted instrument. Notated music is produced as sheet music. To perform music from notation requires an understanding of both the rhythmic and pitch elements embodied in the symbols and the performance practice that is associated with a piece of music or a genre. In improvisation, the performer often plays from music where only the chord changes are written, requiring a great understanding of the music’s structure and