The Summarized History Of Recorded Music

Have you ever wondered how did recorded music come about? What were the first notations of sound, and who registered it and where? We did! and our mind was blown when we dug into the history of music as we know it today. Spoiler alert: It starts before Jesus!

  1. The ancient Sumerians in Mesopotamia left evidence of musical notation on stone tablets around 2000 BC, representing the earliest known musical compositions. The music used a diatonic scale and primarily consisted of religious hymns and chants.
  2. Indian classical music traces back to the Vedic period around 1500 BC. The Sama Veda, an ancient Sanskrit text, described a musical tradition of chanting spiritual hymns and mantras. This early music influenced the development of the raga and other foundations of Indian music.
  3. The earliest preserved song is “Hurrian Hymn No. 6” from ancient Ugarit in northern Syria around 1400 BC. The content of Hurrian Hymn No. 6, recorded with special symbols on a tablet, is more substantial compared to five other tablets found in the same area. Despite the difficulty of the task, this tablet is well-preserved enough to enable archaeologists and other experts to attempt to reconstruct its song.
  4. Ancient Greece (1200 BCE – 323) developed a complex musical theory with modes and scales that are still used today. However, no written music from this era remains as papyrus decomposed over time. Sumerian and Babylonian music influenced ancient Persian and Arabian music. Scale systems spread through the Middle East during this era.
  5. Early forms of Western classical music emerged in the Medieval era between the years 500 to 1400, including Gregorian chant monophonic sacred songs of the Catholic church. European music was dominated by the Catholic church, with harmonies remaining relatively simple.
  6. The Renaissance era from the 14th to 17th century saw major developments in Western classical music. Polyphonic choral music influenced arrangements of madrigals and motets. New instruments like the harpsichord and violin gained popularity. Rules of harmony and counterpoint were established.
  7. The early Baroque period from 1600 to 1750 revolutionized Western classical music with complex harmonies, polyphony, and the establishment of the orchestra and major genres like the fugue, concerto, sonata, cantata, and oratorio. Major composers include Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and Corelli.
  8. The Classical period from 1730 to 1810 was dominated by simpler melodies and harmonies as well as an emphasis on balance and control. Major composers of the time include Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven.
  9. The Romantic era spanned from about 1810 to 1900. Emotional expression, harmonic complexity, and orchestral color became focal points. Many famous symphonies, concertos, sonatas, chamber music works, lieder, and operas were composed.
  10. 20th-century music saw immense experimentation, the rise of electronic and recorded music, and global influences. Modernism, impressionism, jazz, rock, hip-hop, electronica, world music, and many other genres shaped this eclectic period.
  11. The 21st century has yielded an almost unlimited array of music facilitated by technology and globalization with influences that span the full history, geography, and diversity of music. Advancements in music production, distribution, and consumption will continue to accelerate. So consider yourself lucky! You don’t have to sculpt notes in tablets or borrow pieces of stones from your priest to learn a basic song. Although, they didn’t have to worry about marketing and promotion.

Blue Rhymez Entertainment ©2023

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