The oldest recorded evidence of music dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period (around 40.000 BP) with the discovery of ancient bone flutes. Though this indicates that music was already existent to a certain degree, with the possibility that singing had already been a form that dates back to the Middle Paleolithic period (300.000 to 50.000 BP).
Most music historians agree music has been around since the dawn of time. Early humans used music to communicate and entertain themselves. However, the primary goal of composing old music was to commemorate hunting, religious rituals, and war victories.
It was an important aspect of their everyday lives since it was how they expressed themselves and what made them human. No one knows exactly who first invented music or when music came about but we can say that music was an essential part of early human life.
What was music like before it became what we know today?
Prehistoric music is almost non-existent because early humans did not write music down. However, some prehistoric music records can show us what music was like back then, one of these examples is the Divje Babe Flute.
The Divje Babe Flute is a prehistoric music artifact estimated to be around 60,000 years old. It was found in Slovenia and is the world’s oldest flute. It looks similar to a recorder but it has six holes instead of four, three on the top and three on the bottom side.
According to music historians, early humans used The Divje Babe Flute, which looked similar to that of a recorder to communicate with each other. The music was very simple however it still had a lot of meaning behind the music, that music was more than just entertainment for early humans and that music defined who they were as human beings.
With that being said, music first started as music appreciation and music for entertainment purposes, successful hunting, battle victories, and even religious rituals, and then music eventually evolved into music as we know it today.
Music in Ancient Greece
If you’ve ever taken music theory in school, whether it’s music for non-musicians or music history courses across the board, chances are high that Pythagoras made an appearance at some point. He broke music down mathematically and had theories on what certain notes should sound like based on mathematical ratios.
The music theory that is used today came from the music theorists who came before Pythagoras. These music theorists like Ptolemy (90-168) and Guido d’Arezzo (991-1033) contributed to music theory, especially music notation which helped make music more accessible to everyone. However, it was the music theory of Pythagoras that helped music theorists understand music better.
The music theory of Pythagoras breaks music down into different scales and pitches, which is what music today is based on. This concept was completely revolutionary in his time because it allowed music to be played in different keys without having to change the music itself. This music theory was later developed by music theorist Guido d’Arezzo who used the hexachord to create music notation, which he also helped develop.
Pythagoras was not the only music theorist during ancient times, there were quite a few before him and after him who made music theory their own even if they weren’t right about everything. There are two others that also had theories on music:
Plato (428-348 BC)
Plato believed music was an expression of universal order, specifically the music of the spheres. He believed music influenced human emotions and had power over specific areas of our lives. Plato believed music functioned as part of a larger whole that was greater than the music itself, music theorists at this time were more comprehensive in thinking about music’s effects on life as a whole.
Aristotle (384-322 BC)
Aristotle believed music was different for everyone, he also believed music had the power to influence people’s emotions. However, music theory at this time was more influenced by rationality and music as an art form rather than parts of life that music affects. Music theorists were trying to find the music itself and music’s relation to humans.
How Beethoven changed Music
Music has been around for millennia. The music we hear today is a combination of many cultures, dating back to music in ancient times such as Africa and Ancient Greece. While music today is what it is because of all the people who have added their own twist to music, it can be argued that much music history owes much to one man – Ludwig van Beethoven.
In the late 1700s music began to change. Classical music was a popular genre and people were creating music in an entirely new way, there was a much larger focus on instruments and what they could do as well as the music itself. No one is sure who, but someone took it upon themselves to make music even better, and that someone was Ludwig van Beethoven.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer who contributed much to music theory, composition, and music in general. One of the greatest examples of his contribution to music is the Fur Elise music sheet. This music sheet has been played by music students across the world and music lovers everywhere, it is also his most famous piece.
Beethoven’s music was revolutionary in its time because of music’s emphasis on instruments. Think about music from before the 1700s to somewhere a little after the 1900s wherein music did not have a lot of instrumental focus, especially in an orchestral setting.
Instruments were there to back up music, but Beethoven wanted the music to be the definition of what music is. He took music and turned it into an experience for everyone who listened to his music. Today, music is very instrumental like Beethoven’s Fur Elise which has a lot of focus on instruments.
This was not all that Beethoven contributed music, he also contributed music theory. One of his main contributions was the emphasis on musical forms, which are different ways music is organized.
He also made music more serious through modulation, which is when the music changes the key or tone throughout a piece. It adds emotion to music because the music sounds less mechanical.
Ludwig van Beethoven is responsible for a lot of music today, especially music theory and the emphasis on instruments. Without him, music would have lost a lot of its magic.
Music dates back to the Paleolithic Period, with evidence of bone flutes which were from around 40.000 BP. However, it is speculated that singing had already taken its form even before that time, during the Middle Paleolithic Period.
The Divje Babe Flute is an ancient musical instrument that is thought to date back about 60,000 years. It was discovered in Slovenia and is probably the world’s oldest flute. It resembles a recorder but has six holes rather than four on each side, three on the top and three on the bottom.
Many historical figures contributed to music in their own way throughout history. Some worth mentioning are Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and most of all, Ludwig van Beethoven.
Ludwig van Beethoven contributed music in a big way that led the music into the direction it is today. He was one of the first people who put instrumental focus into music, music theory, music forms, and the emphasis on changing music keys or tones. Without Beethoven music would have been a very different experience for all who listen to music.