Welcome to a brief history of music!

Medieval (500 to 1400)
Renaissance (1400 to 1600)
Baroque (1600 to 1760)
Classical (1730 to 1820)
Romantic (1815 to 1910)
20th century classical (1900 to 2000)
Contemporary classical (1975 to present)

Prehistoric music: Prehistoric music, once more commonly called primitive music,is is the name given to all music produced in preliterate cultures (prehistory), beginning somewhere in very late geological history. Traditional Native American and Australian Aboriginal music could be called prehistoric, but the term is commonly used to refer to the music in Europe before the development of writing there. It is more common to call the "prehistoric" music of non-European continents � especially that which still survives � folk, indigenous, or traditional music.

Ancient music: The prehistoric era is considered to have ended with the development of writing, and with it, by definition, prehistoric music. "Ancient music" is the name given to the music that followed. The "oldest known song" was written in cuneiform, dating to 4,000 years ago from Ur. Double pipes, such as used by the ancient Greeks, 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, indicate polyphony. One pipe in the aulos pairs (double flutes) likely served as a drone or "keynote," while the other played melodic passages. Instruments, such as the seven holed flute and various types of stringed instruments have been recovered from the Indus valley civilization archaeological sites. [1] Indian classical music (marga) can be found from the scriptures of the Hindu tradition, the Vedas. Samaveda, one of the four vedas describes music at length. The term Early music era may also refer to contemporary but traditional or folk music, including Asian music, music of India, Jewish music, Greek music, Roman music, the music of Mesopotamia, the music of Egypt, and Muslim music.

Early music History of European art music

Early music

Early music is a general term used to describe music in the European classical tradition from after the fall of the Roman Empire, in 476 CE, until the end of the Baroque era in the middle of the 18th century. Music within this enormous span of time was extremely diverse, encompassing multiple cultural traditions within a wide geographic area; many of the cultural groups out of which medieval Europe developed already had musical traditions, about which little is known. What unified these cultures in the Middle Ages was the Roman Catholic Church, and its music served as the focal point for musical development for the first thousand years of this period. Very little non-Christian music from this period survived, due to its suppression by the Church and the absence of music notation; however, folk music of modern Europe probably has roots at least as far back as the Middle Ages.

Medieval music

While musical life was undoubtedly rich in the early Medieval era, as attested by artistic depictions of instruments, writings about music, and other records, the only repertory of music which has survived from before 800 to the present day is the plainsong liturgical music of the Roman Catholic Church, the largest part of which is called Gregorian chant. Pope Gregory I, who gave his name to the musical repertory and may himself have been a composer, is usually claimed to be the originator of the musical portion of the liturgy in its present form, though the sources giving details on his contribution, date from more than a hundred years after his death. Most of the chant repertory was composed anonymously in the centuries between the time of Gregory and Charlemagne. During the 9th century several important developments took place. First, there was a major effort by the Church to unify the many chant traditions, and suppress many of them in favor of the Gregorian liturgy. Second, the earliest polyphonic music was sung, a form of parallel singing known as organum. Third, and of greatest significance for music history, notation was reinvented after a lapse of about five hundred years, though it would be several more centuries before a system of pitch and rhythm notation evolved having the precision and flexibility that modern musicians take for granted. Several schools of polyphony flourished in the period after 1100: the St. Martial school of organum, the music of which was often characterized by a swiftly moving part over a single sustained line; the Notre Dame school of polyphony, which included the composers L�onin and P�rotin, and which produced the first music for more than two parts around 1200; the musical melting-pot of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, a pilgrimage destination and site where musicians from many traditions came together in the late Middle Ages, the music of whom survives in the Codex Calixtinus; and the English school, the music of which survives in the Worchester Fragments and the Old Hall Manuscript. Alongside these schools of sacred music a vibrant tradition of secular song developed, as exemplified in the music of the troubadours, trouv�res and Minnes�nger. Much of the later secular music of the early Renaissance evolved from the forms, ideas, and the musical aesthetic of the troubadours, courtly poets and itinerant musicians, whose culture was largely exterminated during the Albigensian Crusade in the early 13th century. Forms of sacred music which developed during the late 13th century included the motet, conductus, discant, and clausulae. One unusual development was the Geisslerlieder, the music of wandering bands of flagellants during two periods: the middle of the 13th century (until they were suppressed by the Church); and the period during and immediately following the Black Death, around 1350, when their activities were vividly recorded and well-documented with notated music. Their music mixed folk song styles with penitential or apocalyptic texts. The 14th century in European music history is dominated by the style of the ars nova, which by convention is grouped with the medieval era in music, even though it had much in common with early Renaissance ideals and aesthetics. Much of the surviving music of the time is secular, and tends to use the formes fixes: the ballade, the virelai, the lai, the rondeau, which correspond to poetic forms of the same names. Most pieces in these forms are for one to three voices, likely with instrumental accompaniment: famous composers include Guillaume de Machaut and Francesco Landini.

Renaissance music

The beginning of the Renaissance in music is not as clearly marked as the beginning of the Renaissance in the other arts, and unlike the Renaissance in the other arts, it did not begin in Italy, but in northern Europe, specifically in the area currently comprising central and northern France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The style of the Burgundian composers, as the first generation of the Franco-Flemish school is known, was at first a reaction against the excessive complexity and mannered style of the late 14th century ars subtilior, and contained clear, singable melody and balanced polyphony in all voices. The most famous composers of the Burgundian school in the mid-15th century are Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois, and Antoine Busnois. By the middle of the 15th century, composers and singers from the Low Countries and adjacent areas began to overspread Europe, moving especially into Italy where they were employed by the papal chapel and the aristocratic patrons of the arts, such as the Medici, the Este family in Ferrara, and the Sforza family in Milan. They carried their style with them: smooth polyphony which could be adapted for sacred or secular use as appropriate. Principal forms of sacred musical composition at the time were the mass, the motet, and the laude; secular forms included the chanson, the frottola, and later the madrigal. The invention of printing had an immense influence on the dissemination of musical styles, and along with the movement of the Franco-Flemish musicians throughout Europe, contributed to the establishment of the first truly international style in European music since the unification of Gregorian chant under Charlemagne seven hundred years before. Composers of the middle generation of the Franco-Flemish school included Johannes Ockeghem, who wrote music in a contrapuntally complex style, with varied texture and an elaborate use of canonical devices; Jacob Obrecht, one of the most famous composers of masses in the last decades of the 15th century; and Josquin Desprez, probably the most famous composer in Europe before Palestrina, and who during the 16th century was renowned as one of the greatest artists in any form. Music in the generation after Josquin explored increasing complexity of counterpoint; possibly the most extreme expression of this tendency is in the music of Nicolas Gombert, whose contrapuntal complexities influenced early instrumental music, such as the canzona and the ricercar, ultimately culminating in Baroque fugal forms. By the middle of the 16th century, the international style began to break down, and several highly diverse stylistic trends became evident: a trend towards simplicity in sacred music, as directed by the Counter-Reformation Council of Trent, and as exemplified in the austere perfection of the music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina; a trend towards complexity and chromaticism in the madrigal, which reached its extreme expression in the avant-garde style of the Ferrara School of Luzzaschi, and the late century madrigalist Carlo Gesualdo; and the grandiose, sonorous music of the Venetian school, which took advantage of the architecture of the Basilica San Marco di Venezia to create a music of antiphonal contrasts. The music of the Venetian school can be seen on the cusp of the Renaissance and the Baroque eras, and included the development of orchestration, ornamented instrumental parts, and continuo bass parts, all of which occurred within a span of several decades around 1600. Famous composers in Venice included the Gabrielis, Andrea and Giovanni, as well as Claudio Monteverdi, one of the most significant innovators at the end of the era. Most parts of Europe had active, and well-differentiated, musical traditions by late in the century. In England, composers such as Thomas Tallis and William Byrd wrote sacred music in a style similar to that written on the continent, while an active group of home-grown madrigalists adapted the Italian form for English tastes: famous composers included Thomas Morley, John Wilbye and Thomas Weelkes. Spain developed instrumental and vocal styles of its own, with Tom�s Luis de Victoria writing refined music similar to that of Palestrina, and numerous other composers writing for a new instrument called the guitar. Germany cultivated polyphonic forms built on the Protestant chorales, which replaced the Roman Catholic Gregorian Chant as a basis for sacred music, and imported wholesale the style of the Venetian school (the appearance of which defined the start of the Baroque era there). In addition, German composers wrote enormous amounts of organ music, establishing the basis for the later spectacular flowering of the Baroque organ style which culminated in the work of J.S. Bach. France developed a unique style of musical diction known as musique mesur�e, used in secular chansons, with composers such as Guillaume Costeley and Claude Le Jeune prominent in the movement. One of the most revolutionary movements in the era took place in Florence in the 1570s and 1580s, with the work of the Florentine Camerata, who ironically had a reactionary intent: dissatisfied with what they saw as contemporary musical depravities, their goal was to restore the music of the ancient Greeks. Chief among them were Vincenzo Galilei, the father of the astronomer, and Giulio Caccini. The fruits of their labors was a declamatory melodic singing style known as monody, and a corresponding dramatic form consisting of staged, acted monody: a form known today as opera. The first operas, written around 1600, also define the end of the Renaissance and the beginning of the Baroque eras. Music prior to 1600 was modal rather than tonal. Several theoretical developments late in the 16th century, such as the writings on scales on modes by Gioseffo Zarlino and Franchinus Gaffurius, led directly to the development of common practice tonality. The major and minor scales began to predominate over the old church modes, a feature which was at first most obvious at cadential points in compositions, but gradually became pervasive. Music after 1600, beginning with the tonal music of the Baroque era, is often referred to as belonging to the common practice period.

Baroque music

Instrumental music became dominant in the Baroque, and most major music forms were defined. Counterpoint was one of the major forces in both the instrumental and the vocal music of the period. Although a strong religious musical tradition continued, secular music came to the fore with the development of the sonata, the concerto, and the concerto grosso. The harpsichord played a central role in a great deal of Baroque music. The harpsichord played a central role in a great deal of Baroque music. Much Baroque music was designed for improvisation, with a figured bass provided by the composer for the performer to flesh out and ornament. The keyboard, particularly the harpsichord, was a dominant instrument, and the beginnings of well temperament opened up the possibilities of playing in all keys and of modulation. Much Baroque music featured a basso continuo consisting of a keyboard, either harpsichord or organ (sometimes a lute instead), and a bass instrument, such as a viola da gamba or bassoon. The three outstanding composers of the period were Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi, but a host of other composers, some with huge output, were active in the period.

Romantic music

In the Romantic period, music became more expressive and emotional, expanding to encompass literature, art, and philosophy. Famous early Romantic composers include Schumann, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Bellini, and Berlioz. The late 19th century saw a dramatic expansion in the size of the orchestra, and in the role of concerts as part of urban society. Famous composers from the second half of the century include Johann Strauss II, Brahms, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, and Wagner. Between 1890 and 1910, a third wave of composers including Dvoř�k, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Puccini, and Sibelius built on the work of middle Romantic composers to create even more complex � and often much longer � musical works. A prominent mark of late 19th century music is its nationalistic fervor, as exemplified by such figures as Dvoř�k, Sibelius, and Grieg. Other prominent late-century figures include Saint-Sa�ns, Faur�, Rachmaninoff and Franck.

20th century music

The 20th Century saw a revolution in music listening as the radio gained popularity worldwide and new media and technologies were developed to record, capture, reproduce and distribute music. Because music was no longer limited to concerts and clubs, it became possible for music artists to quickly gain fame nationwide and sometimes worldwide. Conversely, audiences were able to be exposed to a wider range of music than ever before. Music performances became increasingly visual with the broadcast and recording of music videos and concerts. Music of all kinds also became increasingly portable. Headphones allowed people sitting next to each other to listen to entirely different performances or share the same performance. 20th Century music brought a new freedom and wide experimentation with new musical styles and forms that challenged the accepted rules of music of earlier periods. The invention of musical amplification and electronic instruments, especially the synthesizer, in the mid-20th century revolutionized popular music and accelerated the development of new forms of music.

Old World Music and Gifts, Tyler, Tx.