Music

October 16, 2008 by  


ibn

Music is an art form of sound organized by time. Common elements of music are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike), “(art) of the Muses”.

The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions (and their recreation in performance), through improvisational music to aleatoric forms.

To people in many cultures, music is inextricably intertwined into their way of life. Greek philosophers and ancient Indians defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies and vertically as harmonies.

Common sayings such as “the harmony of the spheres” and “it is music to my ears” point to the notion that music is often ordered and pleasant to listen to.
The development of music among humans must have taken place against the backdrop of natural sounds such as birdsong and the sounds other animals use to communicate. Ancient music can only be imagined by scholars, based on findings from a range of paleolithic sites, such as bones in which lateral holes have been pierced: these are usually identified as flutes, blown at one end like the Japanese shakuhachi. The earliest written records of musical expression are to be found in the Samaveda of India and in 4,000 year oldcuneiform from Ur.

India has one of the oldest musical traditions in the world—references to Indian classical music (marga) can be found in the ancient scriptures of the Hindu tradition, the Vedas. The traditional art or court music of China has a history stretching for more than three thousand years.

In the 9th century, the Arab scholar al-Farabi wrote a book on music titled Kitab al-Musiqi al-Kabir (“Great Book of Music”). He played and invented a variety of musical instruments and devised the Arab tone system of pitch organisation, which is still used in Arabic music.

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