What is "Music"

Music is an art form which the medium is sound. The basic elements of music are melody, harmony and rhythm. The word "Music" originated from Greek word "mousike", meaning art of the Muses (goddesses in Greek mythology who inspire the creation of literature and art).

Music can be classified as performing art, fine art, and auditory art. Music has many different elements such as pitch, beat or pulse, rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, allocation of voices, timbre or color, expressive qualities (dynamics and articulation), and form or structure.

Western music theory generally divides the octave into a series of 12 notes that might be included in a piece of music.

Pitch is a subjective sensation, reflecting generally the lowness or highness of a sound.

Rhythm is the timing of sounds and silences.

A melody is a series of notes sounding in succession. The notes of a melody are typically created with respect to pitch systems, scales or modes. Music that uses the system of major-minor scale calls tonal music (all Classical music are tonal music), music that base on mode is model music (Medieval music). The key of a piece determines the scale used.

Harmony is the accompaniment in music, also describe as vertical sonorities in music, the relationships between pitches that occur together (intervals and chords).

Music texture is the overall sound of a piece of music commonly described according to the number of and relationship between parts or lines of music like monophony, heterophony, polyphony, and homophony.

Timbre, also called "Color" or "Tone Color", it is the quality or sound of a voice or instrument. This is "Expressive Qualities" of music that is related to dynamics and Articulation.

Form can be described as the concept of musical syntax, on a local and global level. Examples of common forms of Western music include fugue, invention, sonata-allegro, canon, strophic, rondo, binary, ternary.

Music Theory

Music theory encompasses the nature and mechanics of music. It often involves identifying patterns that govern composers' techniques and examining the language and notation of music. In a grand sense, music theory distills and analyzes the elements of music - keys, timing, intervals, chords, form, texture, structure and style. Music theory can apply to area such as acoustics, psychology and humanphysiology.

Music in the Western cultures

In Ancient Greece, music used in the mixed-gender choruses performed for entertainment, celebration and spiritual reasons. Music was also an important part of education in ancient Greece; boys were taught music starting at age six. Greek music based on Greek modes, which eventually became the basis for early Western sacred music (transformed as "Church modes" in early Medieval era, circa 400 - 1200 A.D.).

Music was part of everyday life in middle Age. Music in the period was divided in two kinds: sacred (religious) and secular (non-religious in subject). Most of music was vocal only (no instrumental accompaniment), the instrumental performing was in style of improvisation.

Music of the Middle Ages was mainly religious work, Church was the most important patron of music, for enhance the church service. Main sacred music in Medieval time are Mass, Liturgy and Motet.

The early European repertory was monohponic music (one melodic line) and "Gregorian chant" (meaning "plainsong") of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Gregory I (ca 546-604) started in 6th century.

Gregorian Chant is the liturgical music that sung in the Roman Catholic Church accompanied Mass and other ritual services, the music is single line melody monophonic in texture, freely flow vocal style, sung in Latin, resulted from reorganization of Roman chant.

Leono and Perotin of Paris' Notre Dame started on polyphonic music (more than two melodic lines play at the same time) during the 12th century.

Medieval musicians who worked for the church called choirmember (choir master), they mostly were priest, monk or nun. They were trained in monastery or church for Latin, mathematics, classical grammar and rhetoric as well as singing and playing music. Music was an aspect of their service to God.

Alongside these church music there existed a vibrant tradition of secular music: monophonic melodies, improvised accompaniments, lively rhythm, with subject of love, joy and pain, present courtly love and religious devotion.

These songs were performed by musicians called Jongleurs in French and Minnesingers in German meaning actor-singers or court singers. They also have known as minstrels, the poet-musician, who made poem as text for songs and sing and play instruments as improvisation. These musicians traveled across Europe from place to place, town to town to perform for their living. Their songs were oral down from one generation to the next until after the 10th century. By 11th to mid 13th centuries, these musicians had a new name - most famous were French trouveres and troubadours.

Some musicians held positions in areas other than music such as court clerk (same rank as servant), teacher and entertainer. These musicians who depended on music for their livelihood had low social status and many of them could not read or write. Many musical works of secular songs remained anonymous in the sources.

Music in the Western history

Medieval era (400-1400): Age of Church and States

The western music has its origins in the chant tradition of the early Christian era (400-1000 AD). The monophonic music dominated the entire Middle Ages (400-1400 AD). In the high Middle Ages (1000-1200), the polyphonic textures started to see in liturgical music by the Notre Dame School, France.

The Renaissance (1400-1600): Age of discover (ancient world and new world)
Rebirth of Greco-Roman civilization and rediscover learning of ancient Greek & Roman, The Renaissance began in Italy in the end of the 14th century (1300), and it centered on a celebration of mankind: In the early Renaissance, motets and madrigals have their origins in the music of the Netherlands Burgundian School, France. In the late Renaissance period, more secular music emerged.

The Baroque Period (1600-1750): Age of absolute monarchy, aristocracy, music made centre in palates, salons, church, & university

The era of Baroque music began when the first operas were written by composers from Folorentin Camerata and when contrapuntal music became prevalent. The early opera composers inlude Jocopo Peri, Guilio Caccini, and Claudio Monteverdi. Italian opera dominated the early Baroque style of the 17th century, and it extended to the composition of oratorios on sacred subjects. France opera style evolved starting with Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632 – 1687), and English opera by John Blow (1684-1685).

The earliest known opera was written by Jacopo Peri (1561 - 1633), opera Dafne (1597), performed in Florence in 1598 (recognized as the first opera) which score did not survived to present day, Peri’s “Euridice” (1600) is the first opera score to have survived today.

Famous composers from the Baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and G.P. Telemann. The high Baroque music of the 18th century was dominated by the genius of Bach and Handel. Bach composed music for almost every genre except opera. Handel shows the international aspects of the Baroque style, he wrote in almost every genre, including opera seria and oratorio.

In the 17th century instrumental music developed from the texture of vocal music. Works for instruments included keyboard suites, sonatas, patitas and fugues. Music for orchestra included sinfonias, concertos grosso and concertino.

The Classical Period (ca. 1750-1825): Age of reason, Enlightenment, freedom of human

The music of Classical period is characterized by homophonic texture (featuring a prominent melody with accompaniment). These kind of melodies tended to be almost voice-like and singable. The main genre of this era was instrumental music: chamber music, symphony, sonata, and concerto.

During early 18th century, music moved toward to more transparent textures and instrumental music by C.P.E. Bach, J.C. Bach, Joseph Haydn. Later in the century, the Classic style of absolute music with sonata-cycle structure principles the music of Western music.

The music centre of Classical period was Vienna whom founded by three greatest Classical composers: Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven, called “The Vienna School” are among the central figures of the Classical period. The sonata-allegro form was the principle format and structure in symphony, chamber music, concerto, sonatas and string quartet. The opera was favourites to Mozart’s opera buffa with fulfills of orchestral music. 

The Romantic Period (19th century): Age of French Revolution (1789-99) for “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity": faith in humankind & individual right of men”.

French Revolution and Industrial Revolution brought power and wealth to the middle classes - the bourgeoisie class. The rise of the middle classes created a new audience that drawn a new fame to music - from the interests for courts and churches to the public theatres and concert hall.

The main genre of Romantics was program music, grand opera, lieder, and piano works. The musical mainstream was in programmatic idea with exoticism and nationalism. The early Romantic composers included Franz Schubert, Weber, Berlioz, Filex Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, and Chopin; among the later ones were Liszt, Wagner, Brahms, and Verdi. The extended harmonic, tonality, and music forms were practices by Mahler and Richard Strauss.

The 20th Century Music (1900-2000): Age of Imperialism and two World Wars, the period of surrounding by political and social crisis in whole world, time of change; in development of technologies & improvement of human living quality.

In the early 20th century, music style turned to freer structure and with dissonance in the twelve-tone music of the New Viennese School by Schönberg, Berg, and Webern. At the same time, the Impressionism of the French composers Debussy and Ravel were based on non-functional harmonic principles and Medieval mode with Baroque counterpoint. Composers like Bartók introduced folk elements into music. 20th century music includes many different styles and tendencies, including Neoclassicism (Stravinsky); Expressionism (Berg, Webern); Symbolism (Debussy), Serialism (Schonberg & Boulez); Electronic music (Stockhausen); Aleatoric music and Indeterminacy (Cage); and Minimalism (Reich, Glass).

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