|Western classical music eras|
Ancient music refers to the musical systems that were developed in the ancient past, literate cultures, including Mesopotamia, India, Persia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome, which replaced prehistoric music. Designated by the characterization of the basic notes and scales, ancient music was transmitted through oral or written systems.
Written musical notation was the first mark of a literate society. During the time of prehistoric music, people had a tendency to primarily convey their music and ideas through oral means. However, with the rise of social classes, many European and Asian societies regarded literacy as superior to illiteracy which caused people to begin writing down their musical notations. This made music evolve from simply hearing music and transmitting it orally, to keeping records and personal interpretations of musical themes (Campbell 1989 , 31; Rankin 2018 , 8; ( cpotts 2019 )).
Music has been an integral part of Egyptian culture since antiquity. The ancient Egyptians credited the goddess Bat with the invention of music who was later syncretized with another goddess, Hathor. Osiris used this music from Hathor to civilize the world. The earliest material and representational evidence of Egyptian musical instruments dates to the Predynastic period, but the evidence is more securely attested in tomb paintings from the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–2134 BC) when harps, end-blown flutes (held diagonally), and single and double pipes of the clarinet type (with single reeds) were played (Anderson, Castelo-Branco, and Danielson 2001; Anon. 1999; Shaaban 2017; Pulver 1921 , [ page needed ]). Percussion instruments, and lutes were added to orchestras by the Middle Kingdom. Bronze cymbals dating from the Roman period—30 BC to 641 AD—have been found in a tomb on a site near Naucratis (Anon. 2003; David 1998 , [ page needed ]). Although experiments have been carried out with surviving Egyptian instruments (on the spacing of holes in flutes and reed pipes, and attempts to reconstruct the stringing of lyres, harps, and lutes), only the Tutankhamun trumpets and some percussion instruments yield any secure idea of how ancient Egyptian instruments sounded ( Haslam 1995 , [ page needed ]). None of the many theories that have been formulated have any adequate foundation (Anderson, Castelo-Branco, and Danielson 2001; Manniche 1975 , [ page needed ])
In 1986, Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, professor of ancient history and Mediterranean archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley, published her decipherment of a cuneiform tablet, dating back to 2000 BCE from Nippur, one of the most ancient Sumerian cities. She claimed that the tablet contained fragmentary instructions for performing and composing music in harmonies of thirds, and was written using a diatonic scale ( Kilmer 1986 ). The notation in the first tablet was not as developed as the notation in the later cuneiform Hurrian tablets from Ugarit, dated by Kilmer to about 1250 BCE ( Kilmer 1965 ). The interpretation of the notation system is still controversial (at least five rival interpretations have been published), but it is clear that the notation indicates the names of strings on a lyre, and its tuning is described in other tablets. These tablets represent the earliest recorded melodies, though fragmentary, from anywhere in the world ( West 1994 , 161–62).
In 1929, Leonard Woolley discovered pieces of four different harps while excavating the ruins of the ancient city Ur, located in what was Ancient Mesopotamia and what is now contemporary Iraq. The fragments have been dated to 2750 BCE and some are now located at the University of Pennsylvania, the British Museum in London, and in Baghdad. Various reconstructions and restorations of the instruments have been attempted, but none have been completely satisfactory. Depending on various definitions, they could be classified as lyres rather than harps, the most famous being the bull-headed harp, held in Baghdad. However, the Iraq War in 2003 led to the destruction of the bull-head lyre ( Anon. 2005 ).
Among the Hurrian texts from Ugarit are some of the oldest known instances of written music, dating from c.1400 BCE and including one substantially complete song. A reconstruction of this hymn is presented at the Urkesh webpage.
Musical instruments, such as the seven-holed flute and various types of stringed instruments have been recovered from the Indus valley civilization archaeological sites ( Prajnanananda 1963 , [ page needed ])
The Samaveda consists of a collection (samhita) of hymns, portions of hymns, and detached verses, all but 75 taken from the Rigveda, to be sung, using specifically indicated melodies called Samagana , by Udgatar priests at sacrifices in which the juice of the soma plant, clarified and mixed with milk and other ingredients, is offered in libation to various deities ( Popley 1921 , [ page needed ]). In ancient India, memorization of the sacred Vedas included up to eleven forms of recitation of the same text ( Anon. n.d. )
The Nātya Shastra is an ancient Indian treatise on the performing arts, encompassing theatre, dance and music. It was written at an uncertain date in classical India (between 200 BCE and 200 CE). The Natya Shastra is based upon the much older Natya Veda which contained 36,000 slokas (Ghosh 2002 , 2; Roda 2009). Unfortunately there are no surviving copies of the Natya Veda. There are scholars who believe that it may have been written by various authors at different times. The most authoritative commentary on the Natya Shastra is Abhinavabharati by Abhinava Gupta ( Hays ).
While much of the discussion of music in the Natyashastra focuses on musical instruments, it also emphasizes several theoretical aspects that remained fundamental to Indian music:
Jatis are elaborated in greater detail in the text Dattilam, composed around the same time as the Natyashastra (Prajnanananda 1963 , [ page needed ]; Popley 1921 , [ page needed ]).
Legend has it that the qin, the most revered of all Chinese musical instruments, has a history of about 5,000 years. This legend states that the legendary figures of China's pre-history — Fuxi, Shennong and Huang Di, the "Yellow Emperor" — were involved in its creation. Nearly all qin books and tablature collections published prior to the twentieth century state this as the actual origins of the qin ( Yin n.d. , 1–10), although this is now viewed as mythology. It is mentioned in Chinese writings dating back nearly 3,000 years, and examples have been found in tombs from about 2,500 years ago. The exact origins of the qin is still a very much continuing subject of debate over the past few decades. A qin has recently[ when? ] been found in an archaeological site near Beijing, which is believed to be around 1,000 years old.[ citation needed ]
Ancient Greek musicians developed their own robust system of musical notation. The system was not widely used among Greek musicians, but nonetheless a modest corpus of notated music remains from Ancient Greece and Rome. The epics of Homer were originally sung with instrumental accompaniment, but no notated melodies from Homer are known. Several complete songs exist in ancient Greek musical notation. Three complete hymns by Mesomedes of Crete (2nd century CE) exist in manuscript. In addition, many fragments of Greek music are extant, including fragments from tragedy, among them a choral song by Euripides for his Orestes and an instrumental intermezzo from Sophocles' Ajax .[ citation needed ]
Some fragments of Greek music, such as the Orestes fragment, clearly call for more than one note to be sounded at the same time.[ citation needed ] Greek sources[ citation needed ] occasionally refer to the technique of playing more than one note at the same time. In addition, double pipes, such as used by the Greeks and Persians, and ancient bagpipes, as well as a review of ancient drawings on vases and walls, etc., and ancient writings (such as in Aristotle, Problems, Book XIX.12) which described musical techniques of the time, all indicate harmony existed.[ clarification needed ][ citation needed ]
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The music of ancient Rome borrowed heavily from the music of the cultures that were conquered by the empire, including music of Greece, Egypt, and Persia. Music was incorporated into many areas of Roman life including the military, entertainment in the Roman theater, religious ceremonies and practices, and "almost all public/civic occasions."[ This quote needs a citation ]
The philosopher-theorist Boethius translated into Latin and anthologized a number of Greek treatises, including some on music. His work The Principles of Music (better-known under the title De institutione musica ) divided music into three types: Musica mundana (music of the universe), musica humana (music of human beings), and musica instrumentalis (instrumental music).
Music notation or musical notation is any system used to visually represent aurally perceived music played with instruments or sung by the human voice through the use of written, printed, or otherwise-produced symbols, including notation for durations of absence of sound such as rests.
The Hurrians were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language called Hurrian and lived in Anatolia, Syria and Northern Mesopotamia. The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni, the Mitanni perhaps being Indo-Iranian speakers who formed a ruling class over the Hurrians. The population of the Indo-European-speaking Hittite Empire in Anatolia included a large population of Hurrians, and there is significant Hurrian influence in Hittite mythology. By the Early Iron Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated with other peoples. Their remnants were subdued by a related people that formed the state of Urartu. The present-day Armenians are an amalgam of the Indo-European groups with the Hurrians and Urartians.
Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. The Oxford Companion to Music describes three interrelated uses of the term "music theory". The first is the "rudiments", that are needed to understand music notation ; the second is learning scholars views on music from antiquity to the present; the third a sub-topic of musicology that "seeks to define processes and general principles in music". The musicological approach to theory differs from music analysis "in that it takes as its starting-point not the individual work or performance but the fundamental materials from which it is built."
The lyre is a string instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later periods. The lyre is similar in appearance to a small harp but with distinct differences.
A bansuri is a side blown flute originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is an aerophone produced from bamboo, used in Hindustani classical music. It is referred to as nadi and tunava in the Rigveda and other Vedic texts of Hinduism. Its importance and operation is discussed in the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra.
Shruti or śruti (//), is a Sanskrit word, found in the Vedic texts of Hinduism where it means lyrics and "what is heard" in general. It is also an important concept in Indian music, where it means the smallest interval of pitch that the human ear can detect and a singer or musical instrument can produce. The musical shruti concept is found in ancient and medieval Sanskrit texts such as the Natya Shastra, the Dattilam, the Brihaddeshi, and the Sangita Ratnakara. Chandogya Upanishad speaks of the division of the octave in 22 parts.
The Nāṭya Śāstra is a Sanskrit text on the performing arts. The text is attributed to sage Bharata Muni, and its first complete compilation is dated to between 200 BCE and 200 CE, but estimates vary between 800 BCE and 500 CE.
This article details the music of ancient Mesopotamia.
The music of ancient Greece was almost universally present in ancient Greek society, from marriages, funerals, and religious ceremonies to theatre, folk music, and the ballad-like reciting of epic poetry. It thus played an integral role in the lives of ancient Greeks. There are significant fragments of actual Greek musical notation as well as many literary references to ancient Greek music, such that some things can be known—or reasonably surmised—about what the music sounded like, the general role of music in society, the economics of music, the importance of a professional caste of musicians, etc. Even archaeological remains reveal an abundance of depictions on ceramics, for example, of music being performed.
The music of ancient Rome was a part of Roman culture from the earliest of times. Songs (carmen) were an integral part of almost every social occasion. The Secular Ode of Horace, for instance, was commissioned by Augustus and performed by a mixed children's choir at the Secular Games in 17 BC. Music was customary at funerals, and the tibia, a woodwind instrument, was played at sacrifices to ward off ill influences. Under the influence of ancient Greek theory, music was thought to reflect the orderliness of the cosmos, and was associated particularly with mathematics and knowledge.
Svara or swara is a Sanskrit word that connotes a note in the successive steps of the octave. More comprehensively, it is the ancient Indian concept about the complete dimension of musical pitch.
Nabnitu ("Creation") is an ancient encyclopedic work of the Old Babylonian period that consists of multiple tablets. Its Tablet XXXII is a Sumerian-Akkadian text from Ur, and notable as one of the oldest extant documented examples of musical notation. Although on its own the tablet is somewhat cryptic, analysis of other ancient Babylonian texts reveals that it describes the nine strings of an unidentified instrument and its intervals. The nine strings, numbered symmetrically as 123454321, are presented in two parallel columns, one in Sumerian and the other in Akkadian. Tablet XXXII is now in the collections of the British Museum.
Music in ancient India, encompassing the Indian subcontinent, can be reproduced from written works dating to the Indian classical period, such as the Nātya Shastra, and through surviving examples of liturgical music such as the hymns of the Samaveda. Musical instruments dating to the prehistoric period have been recovered from archaeological excavations.
Knowledge of the biblical period is mostly from literary references in the Bible and post-biblical sources. Religion and music historian Herbert Lockyer, Jr. writes that "music, both vocal and instrumental, was well cultivated among the Hebrews, the New Testament Christians, and the Christian church through the centuries." He adds that "a look at the Old Testament reveals how God's ancient people were devoted to the study and practice of music, which holds a unique place in the historical and prophetic books, as well as the Psalter."
The Hurrian songs are a collection of music inscribed in cuneiform on clay tablets excavated from the ancient Amorite-Canaanite city of Ugarit, a headland in northern Syria, which date to approximately 1400 BCE. One of these tablets, which is nearly complete, contains the Hurrian hymn to Nikkal, making it the oldest surviving substantially complete work of notated music in the world. While the composers' names of some of the fragmentary pieces are known, h.6 is an anonymous work.
The veena comprises a family of chordophone instruments from the Indian subcontinent. Ancient musical instruments evolved into many variations, such as lutes, zithers and arched harps. The many regional designs have different names such as the Rudra veena, the Saraswati veena, the Vichitra veena and others.
The santur (Persian: سنتور, is a hammered dulcimer of Iranian or Mesopotamian origins.
Music technology is the study or the use of any device, mechanism, machine or tool by a musician or composer to make or perform music; to compose, notate, play back or record songs or pieces; or to analyze or edit music. The earliest known applications of technology to music was prehistoric peoples' use of a tool to hand-drill holes in bones to make simple flutes. Ancient Egyptians developed stringed instruments, such as harps, lyres and lutes, which required making thin strings and some type of peg system for adjusting the pitch of the strings. Ancient Egyptians also used wind instruments such as double clarinets and percussion instruments such as cymbals. In Ancient Greece, instruments included the double-reed aulos and the lyre. Numerous instruments are referred to in the Bible, including the horn, pipe, lyre, harp, and bagpipe. During Biblical times, the cornet, flute, horn, organ, pipe, and trumpet were also used. During the Middle Ages, music notation was used to create a written record of the notes of plainchant melodies.
Mechanical music technology is the use of any device, mechanism, machine or tool by a musician or composer to make or perform music; to compose, notate, play back or record songs or pieces; or to analyze or edit music. The earliest known applications of technology to music was prehistoric peoples' use of a tool to hand-drill holes in bones to make simple flutes. Ancient Egyptians developed stringed instruments, such as harps, lyres and lutes, which required making thin strings and some type of peg system for adjusting the pitch of the strings. Ancient Egyptians also used wind instruments such as double clarinets and percussion instruments such as cymbals. In Ancient Greece, instruments included the double-reed aulos and the lyre. Numerous instruments are referred to in the Bible, including the horn, pipe, lyre, harp, and bagpipe. During Biblical times, the cornet, flute, horn, organ, pipe, and trumpet were also used. During the Middle Ages, hand-written music notation was developed to write down the notes of religious Plainchant melodies; this notation enabled the Catholic church to disseminate the same chant melodies across its entire empire.
Hittite music is the music of the Hittites of the 17th-12th century BC and of the Syro-Hittite successor states of the 12th-7th century BC.