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HISTORY OF MUSIC

Music is found in every known society, past and present, and is considered to be a cultural universal. Since all people of the world, including the most isolated tribal groups, have a form of music, it may be concluded that music is likely to have been present in the ancestral population prior to the dispersal of humans around the world. Consequently, the first music may have been invented in Africa and then evolved to become a fundamental constituent of human life, using various different materials to make various instruments.

A culture’s music is influenced by all other aspects of that culture, including social and economic organization and experience, climate, access to technology and what religion is believed. The emotions and ideas that music expresses, the situations in which music is played and listened to, and the attitudes toward music players and composers all vary between regions and periods. Music history is the distinct subfield of musicology and history which studies music (particularly Western art music) from a chronological perspective.

Understanding Music

This lesson explained many important terms and concepts surrounding music. It’s a concept that most people in the world can relate to. Now it’s your turn to think about what you’ve just learned in new ways using the following activities.

Music Around the World

As this lesson mentioned, all human cultures have musical traditions. Choose just one musical tradition and write a paragraph about it. What does this kind of music sound like? What terms from this lesson can you apply to it? What is the history of this musical tradition? Make sure you listen to examples of whatever music you choose!

Examples: You can write about any music, but here are some ideas to get you started: Inuit throat singing; Chinese opera; Yoruba drumming; Indian Raga music; Cape Jazz from South Africa.

Thinking Outside the Box

This lesson gave you several elements that make up what we typically think of as music. But can music go beyond these definitions? Look at the examples below and write a journal response explaining which, if any, you consider to be music. If they are not music, what are they?

Examples: Birds singing; 4’33” by John Cage; As Slow As Possible by John Cage; the Zadar Sea Organ; the Singing Ringing Tree.

Your Musical Traditions

What kinds of music are popular where you live? When did those kinds of music originate? What kinds of music are associated with your culture and history? And what vocabulary words that you learned in this lesson can you apply to your favourite kinds of music today? Write your answers to some or all of these questions in a paragraph or essay

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