History of music


August 19, 2022

Music is an artistic expression belonging to all the cultures of our planet. Sources attest to its existence at least 55,000 years ago, with the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic. Some scholars speculate its birth in Africa, when the first known human communities began to spread across the globe. The history of music is a branch of musicology and history that studies the chronological development of musical ideas and conventions belonging to different peoples, with particular regard to art music of the Western tradition, and is therefore a widespread subject, both in universities, than in music schools around the world.


The standard subdivision of music is based on historical eras, artistic and cultural currents parallel to music.

Prehistoric music

The problem of determining the era that saw the birth of the first forms of musical expression is obviously connected with the definition that one chooses to adopt for the word music. While, in fact, for a theoretical system of organization of sounds, connected to precise aesthetic references, we have to wait for ancient Greece, for the first appearance of specific elements, such as the voluntary production, also by means of instruments, of sounds by man. , we must go back to the Paleolithic. In 2008 in Germany at the site of the Fels cave (Hohle Fels) the staff of the archaeologist Nicholas Conard found a flute obtained from a vulture bone, dated 40,000 years ago. Some evidence in this sense can be deduced from numerous findings both in bone and in stone interpreted as musical instruments. Such are, for example, the Magdalenian flasks of Roco de Mercamps, or the Neolithic lithophones discovered in the vicinity of Dallato (Vietnam). In the absence of direct or mediated evidence, some hypotheses on the form assumed by primitive music can also be deduced from the observation of peoples whose development is similar to the development of current prehistoric cultures, such as the Brazilian Indians, the Aboriginal Australians or some populations African. It can be assumed that the earliest forms of music were born above all from rhythm: for example, to imitate, by clapping the hands or feet, the beating heart, the rhythmic rhythm of running feet, or of gallop; or perhaps altering, for fun and boredom, the spontaneous phonations during a tiring and monotonous job, such as crushing the harvested wheat to make flour, or bending over to collect plants and seeds. For these reasons, and for the relative ease of construction, it is very likely that the first musical instruments were percussion instruments, and presumably some variant of the drum. In fact, among the most ancient instruments found we find the slot drum, a hollow cylinder, provided with a longitudinal slot along the external surface, played by striking it with the sticks on the same slot. The oldest and most primitive versions found consist of a hollow trunk, without a crack but resting transversely over a hole in the ground, which was probably played by hitting it with the feet.

Music of antiquity

The music of antiquity, in the history of music, is that music that replaced prehistoric music in the different civilizations of the so-called Ancient History. It refers to the various musical systems that were developed in various geographical regions such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, India and China, or in vast basins of cultural influence such as Greek and Roman, and is designated by the characterization of fundamentals such as notes and stairs. It may have been transmitted through oral or written methods.

Music in Ancient Egypt

The Egyptian civilization is among the first civilizations of which there is evidence of musical expression. Here music played a very important role: legend has it that it was