Music History 1
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What are the four ways we can use to trace music?
- 1. Physical remains (musical instruments and performing spaces)
- 2. Visual images (of musicians, instruments, and performances)
- 3. Writings (about music and musicians)
- 4. Music itself (preserved in notation, through oral tradition, or recordings after 1890s)
What is the earliest evidence of music-making?
Surviving instruments and representations
How did they make whistles and flutes in the Stone Age?
Bored finger holes in animal bones
How old is the oldest bone flute found in Europe?
Before 36,000 B.C.E.
What were common instruments in the Neolithic era?
Pottery flutes, rattles, and drums
What did they play music for in the Neolithic Era?
Dancers and the hunt (to drive out game)
When did people begin to make metal instruments?
The Bronze Age (beginning in the fourth millennium B.C.E.)
What were the first metal instruments?
Bells, jingles, cymbals, rattles, and horns
What instruments made their appearance with metal instruments?
Plucked string instruments
What were the first string instruments made of?
Why are we limited in our understanding of prehistoric music cultures?
The lack of any written record
When was writing invented?
The end of the prehistoric period
What was the land between the Tigris and Euphrates that was a home to many people in ancient times?
Who developed the first known form of writing and what is it called?
The Sumerians developed cuneiform
What is cuneiform?
Wedge-shaped impressions on flat clay tablets
What do ancient pictures show us?
How instruments were held and played and in what circumstances music was used
What is a lyre?
An ancient plucked string instrument where the strings run parallel to the resonating soundboard and attach to a crossbar supported by two arms. It had a variable number of strings running from a bridge on the soundbox to the crossbar, where they were knotted around sticks that could be turned to change the tension and thus the tuning of each string
Describe the medieval harp.
The strings are perpendicular to the soundboard, and the neck that supports them is attached directly to the soundbox
What is a bull lyre?
A distinctively Sumerian lyre whose soundbox features a bull's head, which had religious significance
How is a lyre played?
It is held, supported by a strap around his neck, perpendicular in front of him and he plays it with both hands
What are the music instruments in Ancient Mesopotamia?
Lyres, harps, lutes, pipes, drums, cymbals, clappers, rattles, and bells
What was music played for in ancient Mesopotamia?
Wedding songs, funeral laments, military music, work songs, nursery songs, dance music, tavern music, music for entertaining at feasts, songs to address the gods, music to accompany ceremonies and processions, epics sung with instrumental accompaniment
Who had more music performed for them, why, and why do we find more of this?
The elite classes, primarily rulers and priests, who had the resources to induce instrument makers and musicians to make music, artists to depict it, and scribes to write about it
What do ancient Mesopotamian writings provide?
A vocabulary for music and some information on musicians
What do word lists from ca. 2500 B.C.E include?
Terms for instruments, tuning procedures, performers, performing techniques, genres
What is a genre?
Type or category of musical composition, such as Sonata or Symphony
Who is the earliest known composer by name?
Who is Enheduanna?
An Akkadin high priestess at Ur, who composed hymns to the moon god Nanna and moon goddess Inanna
What is a hymn?
Song to or in honor of a god. In the Christian tradition, song of praise sung to God
What remains from Enheduanna's compositions?
Music texts but not survive on cuneiform tablets
When did Babylonian musicians begin to write down what they knew?
Around 1800 B.C.E.
What do Babylonian writings about music describe?
Tuning, intervals, improvisation, performing techniques, genres including love songs, laments, and hymns
What scales did ancient Babylonians use?
Seven-note diatonic scales
What is diatonic?
- In ancient Greek music, adjective describing a tetrachord with two whole tones and one semitone
- Name for a scale that includes five whole tones and two semitones, where the semitones are separated by two or three whole tones
- Adjective describing a melody, chord or passage based exclusively on a a single diatonic scale
What is a tetrachord?
- In Greek and medieval theory, a scale of four notes spanning a perfect fourth
- In modern theory, a set of four pitches or pitch-classes
- In twelve-tone theory, the first four, middle four, or last four notes in the row
What is a semitone?
(half step) the smallest interval normally used in Western music; half of a tone
What is a scale?
A series of three or more different pitches in ascending or descending order and arranged in a specific pattern
What is a note?
- A musical tone
- A symbol denoting a musical tone
What is a tone?
A sound of definite pitch
What is an interval?
Distance in pitch between two notes
What is a whole step?
(Whole tone) an interval equivalent to two semitones
How many diatonic scales did the ancient Mesopotamians use?
Seven, roughly corresponding to the seven diatonic scales playable on the white keys of a piano
Who created the earliest known musical notation and what did they use for it?
The Babylonians used their names for intervals
What is notation?
A system for writing down musical sounds, or the process of writing down music. The principal notation systems of European music use a staff of lines and signs that define the pitch, duration, and other qualitites of sound
When does the oldest nearly complete musical notated piece date and where was it found?
From ca. 1400-1250 B.C.E. in Ugarit, a merchant city-state on the Syrian coast
How was most music played in ancient Mesopotamia?
From memory or improvised
What was ancient written notation used for?
A written record from which a melody could be reconstructed
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