Music is an art that puts sounds together in a way that people like or find interesting. Most music includes people singing with their voices or playing musical instruments, such as the piano, guitar, or drums.
The word "music" comes from the Greek word "Muse". In Ancient Greece the nine Muses were goddesses of music, poetry, art, and dance. Someone who is making music is called a musician.
What is music?
Music is sound that has been organized using rhythm, melody or harmony. If someone bangs saucepans while cooking, it makes noise. If a person banged saucepans or pots in a rhythmic way, they are making a simple type of music.
Blues music was a music that was played by singing, using the harmonica, or the acoustic guitar. Jazz musicians used instruments such as the trumpet, saxophone.
Music started many thousands of years ago. When early people first banged pieces of wood together and enjoyed the sound, they were discovering music. Early people also discovered that when they cut off the horns of animals they had killed and blew through them, they could make interesting sounds. People also blew into conch shells and made sounds that they liked. They probably started to sing or shout in celebration.
History of Western Music.
It is not known what the earliest music of the cave people was like. Some architecture, even some paintings, are thousands of years old, but old music could not survive until people learned to write it down. The only way we can guess about music before that is by looking at very old paintings that show people playing musical instruments, or by finding them in archaeological digs (digging under the ground to find old things), or by what ancient writers wrote about them. The earliest piece of music that was ever written down and that has not been lost was discovered on a tablet written in Hurrian, a language spoken in and around northern Mesopotamia (where Iraq is today), from about 1500 BC.
Middle Ages.
Another early piece of written music, from a later period, that has survived was a round called "Sumer Is Icumen In". It was written down by a monk around the year 1250. Much of the music in the Middle Ages (roughly 450-1420) was folk music played by working people who wanted to sing or dance. When people played instruments, they were usually playing for dancers. However, most of the music that was written down was for the Catholic church. This music was written for monks to sing in church. It is called Chant (or Gregorian chant).
In the Renaissance (roughly 1400-1550) there was a lot of music, and many composers wrote music that has survived so that it can be performed, played or sung today. The name for this period (Renaissance) is a French word which means "rebirth". This period was called the "rebirth" because many new types of art and music were reborn during this time.
Some very beautiful music was written for use in church services (sacred music) by the Italian composer Giovanni da Palestrina (1525-1594). In Palestrina's music, many singers sing together (this is called a choir). There was also plenty of music not written for the church, such as happy dance music and romantic love songs. Popular instruments during the Renaissance included the viols (a string instrument played with a bow), lutes (a plucked stringed instrument that is a little like a guitar), and the virginal, a small, quiet keyboard instrument.
In the arts, the Baroque was a Western cultural epoch, which began near the turn of the 17th century in Rome. It was exemplified by drama and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music[1].[citation needed] In music, the term 'Baroque' applies to the final period of dominance of imitative counterpoint, where different voices and instruments echo each other but at different pitches, sometimes inverting the echo, and even reversing thematic material.
The popularity and success of the Baroque style was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church which had decided at the time of the Council of Trent that the arts should communicate religious themes in direct and emotional involvement.[citation needed] The upper class also saw the dramatic style of Baroque architecture and art as a means of impressing visitors and expressing triumphant power and control. Baroque palaces are built around an entrance of courts, grand staircases and reception rooms of sequentially increasing opulence. In similar profusions of detail, art, music, architecture, and literature inspired each other in the Baroque cultural movement[citation needed] as artists explored what they could create from repeated and varied patterns. Some traits and aspects of Baroque paintings that differentiate this style from others are the abundant amount of details, often bright polychromy, less realistic faces of subjects, and an overall sense of awe, which was one of the goals in Baroque art.
The word baroque probably derives from the ancient Portuguese noun "barroco"[citation needed] which is a pearl that is not round but of unpredictable and elaborate shape. Hence, in informal usage, the word baroque can simply mean that something is "elaborate", with many details, without reference to the Baroque styles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Classical period.
The Classical period is about (1750-1825). Sometimes "classical music" is used to mean any art music that is not "pop music", but in the History of Music, the term "classical music" means music from the late 1700s and the first years of the 1800s. This was a time when people became very interested in ancient Roman and Greek art (often called the "classics").
In music, it was the time of composers like Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. Orchestras became bigger, and composers often wrote longer pieces of music called symphonies that had several sections (called movements). Some movements of a symphony were loud and fast; other movements were quiet and sad. The form of a piece of music was very important at this time and becoming very popular. Music had to have a nice shape. They often used a structure which was called sonata form.
Another important type of music was the string quartet, which is a piece of music written for two violins, a viola, and a violoncello. Like symphonies, string quartet music had several sections. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven all wrote many famous string quartets.
The piano was invented during this time. Composers liked the piano, because it could be used to play dynamics (getting louder or getting softer). Other popular instruments included the violin, the violoncello, the flute, the clarinet, and the oboe.
Joseph Hadyn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were so powerful in their music that they influenced the western style of music.
Romantic period.
The 19th century is called the Romantic period. In music composers were particularly interested in putting their feelings into their music. An important instrument from the Romantic period was the piano. Some composers, such as Frederic Chopin wrote quiet, expressive (quietly emotional) piano pieces. Often music described a feeling or told a story using sounds. Other composers, such as Franz Schubert wrote songs for a singer and a piano player called Lied (the German word for "song"). These Lieder (plural of Lied) told stories by using the lyrics (words) of the song and by the imaginative piano accompaniments. Other composers, like Richard Strauss, and Franz Liszt used just music to tell a story, which is called a tone poem. Composers, such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms used the piano to play loud, dramatic (strongly emotional) music.
Many composers began writing music for bigger orchestras, with as many as 100 instruments. It was the period of "Nationalism" (the feeling of being proud of one's country) when many composers made music using folksong or melodies from their country. Lots of famous composers lived at this time such as Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Frederic Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Richard Wagner.
Modern times.
From about 1900 onwards is called the "modern period". Many 20th century composers wanted to compose music that sounded different from the Classical and Romantic music. Modern composers searched for new ideas, such as using new instruments, different forms, different sounds, or different harmonies.
The composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) wrote pieces which were atonal (meaning that they did not sound as if they were in any clear musical key). Later, Schoenberg invented a new system for writing music called twelve-tone system. Music written with the twelve-tone system sounds strange and weird. Pure twelve-tone music never became really popular, but some composers such as Benjamin Britten use it occasionally, when it can be very effective.
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) wrote music with very complicated (difficult) chords (groups of notes that are played together) and rhythms. Some composers thought music was getting too complicated and so they wrote Minimalist pieces which use very simple ideas. In the 1950s and 1960s, composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen experimented with electronic music, using electronic circuits, amplifiers and loudspeakers. In the 1970s, composers began using electronic synthesizers and musical instruments from rock and roll music, such as the electric guitar. They used these new instruments to make new sounds.
Composers writing in the 1990s and the 2000s, such as John Adams (born 1947) and James MacMillan (born 1959) often use a mixture of all these ideas, but they like to write tonal music with easy tunes as well.
Jazz is a type of music that was invented around 1900 in New Orleans in the south of the USA. There were many black musicians living there who played a style of music called blues music. Blues music was influenced by African music (because the black people in the United States had come to the United States as slaves. They were taken from Africa by force). Blues music was a music that was played by singing, using the harmonica, or the acoustic guitar. Many blues songs had sad lyrics about sad emotions (feelings) or sad experiences, such as losing a job, a family member dying, or having to go to jail (prison).
Jazz music mixed together blues music with European music. Jazz musicians used instruments such as the trumpet, saxophone, and clarinet were used for the tunes (melodies), drums for percussion and plucked double bass, piano, and guitar for the background rhythm (rhythmic section). Jazz is usually improvised: the players make up (invent) the music as they play. Even though jazz musicians are making up the music, jazz music still has rules; the musicans play a series of chords (groups of notes) in order.
Jazz music has a swinging rhythm. The word "swing" is hard to explain. For a rhythm to be a "swinging rhythm" it has to feel natural and relaxed. A "swinging rhythm" also gets the people who are listening excited, because they like the sound of it. Some people say that a "swinging rhythm" happens when all the jazz musicians start to feel the same pulse and energy from the song. If a jazz band plays very well together, people will say "that is a swinging jazz band" or "that band really swings well."
Jazz influenced other types of music like the Western art music from the 1920s and 1930s. Art music composers such as George Gershwin wrote music that was influenced by jazz. Jazz music influenced pop music songs. In the 1930s and 1940s, many pop music songs began using chords or melodies from jazz songs. One of the best known jazz musicians was Louis Armstrong (1900-1971).
Pop music.
"Pop" music is a type of "popular" music that many people like to listen to. The term "pop music" can be used for all kinds of music that was written to be popular. The word "pop music" was used from about 1880 onwards, when a type of music called music was popular.
Modern pop music grew out of 1950s rock and roll, (for example Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard) and rockabilly (for example Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly). In the 1960s, The Beatles became a famous pop music group. In the 1970s, other styles of music were mixed with pop music, such as funk and soul music. Pop music generally has a heavy (strong) beat, so that it is good for dancing. Pop singers normally sing with microphones that are plugged into an amplifier and a loudspeaker.
Musical notation.
"Musical notation" means "the way music is written down". It is very useful to be able to read and write music because this is how composers (who may have lived a long time ago) can tell the person playing their music how they want their music to be played. Music is written on five parallel lines called a staff.
Notes are put on the lines and in the spaces between the lines. It can be seen from the shape whether the music goes up or down. The lengths of the notes (how long they are played for) are shown by making the note-heads black or white, and by giving them stems and flags. Reading music involves being able to tell what the note is called and where to find it on the instrument, and being able imagine the sound, as well as learning about music theory (how music works: all about scales, intervals, ornaments, form, etc). This all helps someone to become a good musician.
It is also useful to be able to play "by ear" (when people try to play music they have only heard). Most rock musicians, blues musicians, and folk musicians play "by ear." This means that to learn a song, they listen to other people singing it, or to a recording, until they know how the tune of the song goes.
By listening.
People can enjoy music by listening to it. They can go to concerts to hear famous musicians perform. Classical music is usually performed in concert halls, but sometimes huge festivals are organized in which it is performed outside, in a field or stadium, like pop festivals. People can listen to music on CDs, iPods, television, or the radio.
There is so much music today, in elevators, shopping malls, and stores, that music it often becomes a background sound that we do not really hear. Sometimes it is good to listen more closely to music: by trying to hear the different instruments and what types of notes the instruments are playing.
By playing or singing.
People can learn to play an instrument such as the piano, the guitar, the bass, the trumpet, the drums, or the tuba. They must choose an instrument that is practical for their size. For example, a very short child cannot play a full size double bass, because the double bass is over five feet high. People should choose an instrument that they enjoy playing, because playing regularly is the only way to get better. Finally, it helps to have a good teacher.
By composing.
Anyone can make up his or her own pieces of music. It is not difficult to compose simple songs or melodies (tunes). It's easier for people who can play an instrument themselves. All it takes is experimenting with the sounds that an instrument makes. Someone can make up a piece that tells a story, or just find a nice tune and think about ways it can be changed each time it is repeated. The instrument might be someone's own voice.

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