What is Music?
Dictionaries and encyclopedias define music as "an artistic form of auditory communication incorporating instrumental or vocal tones in a structured and continuous manner." It is also defined as "any pleasing and harmonious sound" and "the sounds produced by singers or musical instruments." (Source: wordnet.princeton.edu)
There are a lot of definitions for music and it will take a whole book to explore the subject of music. If there is one true definition of music it is this; music is universal and yet it is also relative and subjective. What may be music to one may not be so to another.
For me music is the singing of the birds, the whistling of my husband as he takes a shower, the soft humming of my little girl as she quietly plays, the beautiful sounds a pianist produces as he touches the keys of a piano...
Take a moment to ponder what the meaning of music is for you.
Origin and History of Music
There are many theories regarding when and where music originated. Many agree that music began even before man existed. Historiographers point out that there are six periods of music and each period has a particular style of music that greatly contributed to what music is today. Here are some resources for you to better understand the history of music. Links are arranged chronologically and is a great primer to learn more about every stage of music development.
Medieval/Middle AgesMusic during the Middle Ages is characterized by the beginning of musical notation as well as polyphony. During this time, there were two general types of music styles; the monophonic and the polyphonic.
- Medieval Music Timeline
- Medieval Music Forms/Styles: Plainchant, The Beginning of Polyphony and The Rise of Secular Music
- Medieval Musical Instruments: The Lute
- Composers/Musicians of the Middle Ages
RenaissanceRenaissance means "rebirth" and in music this period brought about many changes in the way music was created and perceived.
- Renaissance Music Timeline
- Renaissance Music Forms/Styles
- Renaissance Musical Instruments The Shawm, The Dulcian and The Trumpet
- Composers/Musicians of the Renaissance
BaroqueThe word "baroque" comes from the Italian word "barocco" which means bizarre. The Baroque period was a time when composers experimented with form, styles and instruments. This period saw the development of opera and instrumental music.
- Baroque Music Timeline
- Baroque Music Forms/Styles
- Baroque Musical Instruments: The Violin, Viola, Double Bass, Harp, Oboe, Bassoon and Trombone
- Composers/Musicians of the Baroque Period
ClassicalThe music of the Classical period, which spans from 1750 to 1820, is characterized by simpler melodies and forms such as the sonatas. The piano was undoubtedly the primary instrument used by composers during the Classical period.
- Classical Music Timeline
- Classical Music Forms/Styles
- Classical Musical Instruments: The Piano
- Composers/Musicians of the Classical Period
RomanticHistoriographers define the Romantic Music period to be between 1800 to 1900. It is characterized by using music to tell a story or express an idea, and the use of various instruments including wind instruments. Melodies are fuller and more dramatic.
- Romantic Music Timeline
- Romantic Music Forms/Styles
- Romantic Musical Instruments: The Flute, The Saxophone and The Tuba
- Composers/Musicians of the Romantic Period
20th CenturyMusic during the 20th century brought about many innovations on how music was performed and appreciated. Artists were more willing to experiment on new music forms and used technology to enhance their compositions.
- 20th Century Music Timeline: From 1900 to 1960 and From 1961 to 1999
- 20th Century Music Forms/Styles
- Early Electonic Instruments: The Dynamophone, The Theremin and The Ondes-Martenot
- Composers/Musicians of the 20th Century