History of Music


Throughout history, music has played an important role in all kinds of social activities. Its power to reflect human emotion has been credited to many people. It has been used to convey moral imperatives and for self-actualization. It has also been used in advertising and psychotherapy. It has been used in musical theatre and rite of passage ceremonies. Music has been played on radio, and in rock concerts.

A number of theories have been developed to explain music’s origins. Some of these theories have been highly controversial. While music theory has been divided into many branches, most scholars agree on a few basic elements of music. Music is an auditory art that can be performed on many types of instruments. It is usually composed for harmony and emotional expression. Music also lends itself to easy alliances with words and physical movement.

The Platonic-Aristotelian teaching of music was suited to the needs of the church. During the Renaissance, composers wrote richly polyphonic sacred music, interweaving different melody lines at the same time. The church choirs grew in size.

Aristotle believed that music was an art form that could mold and shape human character. He also believed that works of art could contain a measure of truth. He distinguished between those who produced music and those who listened. He favored vocal music over instrumental music.

Gottfried von Leibniz held that music is a reflection of the fundamental mathematical reality. He believed that music had the power to convey a universal rhythm. Music also reflected the movement of the celestial bodies.

St. Thomas Aquinas believed that music reflects celestial movement. Aristoxenus was a pupil of Aristotle. He believed that music was the art of rhythms. He denigrated mathematical considerations, but he did give credit to human listeners. He believed that music was not only the art of harmony but also the art of imitation.

The 3rd-century philosopher Sextus Empiricus called music the art of tones. He also said that music was not a spatialized art, but it did have a mathematical basis.

Aristotle also believed that music is the art of proportion. He thought that the harmony of the spheres could be related to the harmony of music. He held that music is not a pure copy of ideas, but that it is a copy of will. He also deprecated wordless music. He believed that music could not be objective, but that it could be an expression of human emotion.

The 18th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer believed that music was not objective. He saw music as being more closely related to the inner dynamism of a process than it was to the empirical world.

The 19th century English psychologist Edmund Gurney added psychological elements to music. He believed that music can express moral imperatives, and that it can aid self-fulfillment. The 20th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche drew upon music’s power to create myths. He believed that music could serve as an adjunct to religion and good life.