Where does the music begin, and where does it go? How did we get to the kind of music we have today? Do radio and recorded music improve music? This section examines the history of music, and provides predictions for the types of music to expect in the future.
Where does the music begin, and where does it go?
The answer is surprising. There is a modern movement that leads humanity back to music that was first created tens of thousands of years ago. Movement against it creates increasingly complex sounds, and creates a smaller audience world for more musicians.
Before mankind could write, and before they could even speak, single rhythms and notes were used to communicate. Bird songs may have inspired a prehistoric man to imitate and increase noise. Evidence of prehistoric music is sparse, as there was no language to describe sounds to descendants. Drum objects and imitations are considered the first “music”. This continues with the words that are added as the speech is discovered.
After the development of writing, music became more refined. Artificial instruments added. Harmony is created. Pipes, flutes, basic string instruments and similar instruments were used to create the first sounds that modern humans can easily recognize as music. The oldest song known is over 4000 years old, written in cuneiform, and using a diatonic scale. This period is referred to as “ancient” music.
Further developments created a more regional voice, because different technological discoveries in different fields led to unique instruments. While “classical music” is generally assumed to be the voice of composers like Bach or Beethoven, it really does refer to any music of this period. Music is usually religiously inspired or supported, and is usually taught formally as a skill rather than developed through experimentation. As a regionally unified musical notation, masterpieces composed from the region are generally performed according to rigid written works.
Folk music continued soon after. These are generally the unbroken class voices of those who cannot write or read. Learned orally, this music is studied and modified time and time again to reflect the player’s personal artistry. This type of music often illustrates the concerns of the illiterate class. It is usually not supported, but tolerated, but government and religious leadership. The folk music tradition still continues as a music genre today throughout the world.
Classical music was developed into a less rigid style of modern music, blended with the personal art concepts of folk music. Players will still use written or studied pieces, but will add their personal touch. Music will sound different every time it’s played, even when played by the same player.
Discovery music and recorded radio start the slide backwards.
The music that was recorded was very stiff. Never change. Audiences began to expect live performances to be as close as possible to the recorded music they had listened to. Sheet music allows amatures to closely mimic real players. In order to attract a larger audience, the music started to become less expressive of what the artist wanted to say, and more of what the audience would hear.
This trend continues today in the form of ever simplifying music. Music should be quick and easy to identify. Complexity will lead to missed sales. Many modern styles abandon lyrics or melodies entirely. Recycling previous music in the form of sampling gives the artist an instant audience, while limiting artistic possibilities.
Fortunately, the Internet allows artists of any style to combat the decline of music artists. The low entry fee allows almost anyone to gain an audience. The low cost also allows the artist to do what they want, rather than pander to a larger audience. Hopefully, this will allow the popular music trends to reverse, creating even more artistic and unique music in the future.