Music is a form of art that uses soundorganised in time. Music is also a form of entertainment that puts sounds together in a way that people like, find interesting or dance to. Most music includes people singing with their voices or playing musical instruments, such as the piano, guitar, drums or violin.

A painting on an Ancient Greek vase shows a music lesson (about 510 BC)
The Estonian Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm, 2008
Paco de Lucena, 19th-century Spanishgypsyflamencoguitarist
Horn Music

The word music comes from the Greek word (mousike), which means “(art) of the Muses”. In Ancient Greece the Muses included the goddesses of music, poetry, art, and dance. Someone who makes music is known as a musician.

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Music is sound that has been organized by using rhythm, melody or harmony. If someone bangs saucepans while cooking, it makes noise. If a person bangs saucepans or pots in a rhythmic way, they are making a simple type of music.

There are four things which music has most of the time:

  • Music often has pitch. This means high and low notes. Tunes are made of notes that go up or down or stay on the same pitch.
  • Music often has rhythm. Rhythm is the way the musical sounds and silences are put together in a sequence. Every tune has a rhythm that can be tapped. Music usually has a regular beat.
  • Music often has dynamics. This means whether it is quiet or loud or somewhere in between.
  • Music often has timbre. This is a French word (pronounced the French way: “TAM-br”). The “timbre” of a sound is the way that a sound is interesting. The sort of sound might be harsh, gentle, dry, warm, or something else. Timbre is what makes a clarinet sound different from an oboe, and what makes one person’s voice sound different from another person.

There is no simple definition of music which covers all cases. It is an art form, and opinions come into play. Music is whatever people think is music. A different approach is to list the qualities music must have, such as, sound which has rhythm, melody, pitch, timbre, etc.

These and other attempts, do not capture all aspects of music, or leave out examples which definitely are music. According to Thomas Clifton, music is “a certain reciprocal relation established between a person, his behavior, and a sounding object”.[1]p10 Musical experience and the music, together, are called phenomena, and the activity of describing phenomena is called phenomenology.

Musicians of Amun, Tomb of Nakht, 18th Dynasty, Western Thebes

Even in the stone age people made music. The first music was probably made trying to imitate sounds and rhythms that occurred naturally. Human music may echo these phenomena using patterns, repetition and tonality. This kind of music is still here today. Shamans sometimes imitate sounds that are heard in nature.[2][3] It may also serve as entertainment (games),[4][5] or have practical uses, like attracting animals when hunting.[4]

Some animals also can use music. Songbirds use song to protect their territory, or to attract a mate. Monkeys have been seen beating hollow logs. This may, of course, also serve to defend the territory.

The first musical instrument used by humans was probably the voice. The human voice can make many different kinds of sounds. The larynx (voice box) is like a wind instrument.

The oldest known Neanderthalhyoid bone with the modern human form was found in 1983,[6] indicating that the Neanderthals had language, because the hyoid supports the voice box in the human throat.[7]

Most likely the first rhythm instruments or percussion instruments involved the clapping of hands, stones hit together, or other things that are useful to keep a beat. There are finds of this type that date back to the paleolithic. Some of these are ambiguous, as they can be used either as a tool or a musical instrument.[8]

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