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The Earliest Music In Western Civilization

Mar 11, 2008
Music tames the savage beast they say, and perhaps the creation of music in our species tamed us into a more, but not totally, civilized manner. The origin of music is not known exactly, it has its origins before pre-history, through humans using patterns, repetition and tonality to produce naturally occurring sounds, possibly as a way to lure animals into a hunt.

Essentially, the first musical instrument was the human voice because it can produce a wide range of sounds from singing and humming to whistling and clicking. If the hyoid bone, which is responsible for speech, is the judge of the earliest music, then it would date to 60,000 years old at least, beating the oldest bone flute by 10,000 years.

Clapping was probably the first type of instrument used, through hitting one's hands together, or using stones to create rhythm. When humans first began using stone tools, the sound of pounding seed and roots into meal was probably the first type of rhythm ever created by early humans.

The 'Neanderthal flute', which is a disputed find, dates to 43,000 years old. It is a hollowed out femur of a cave bear, containing holes like a flute. The earliest confirmed bone pipe dates to 36,000 years ago.

The harp, a complicated musical device, dates to 5,000 years ago based on statues found in Crete, as well as the double flute. In regards to song, this dates to 3,400 years ago, written in Hurrian, consisting of two melodic lines that utilizes major and minor thirds, while some interpretations of the music states it is monophonic.The Delphic Hymn is the earliest surviving example of notated music in the world.

Clearly, as can be seen from the archeological evidence, music is something that has evolved with our species over the past 60,000 years or so. It has been a companion for all of us, from the lonely hunter waiting for his prey while he hunts an animal, to large groups of people whose prayers become a form of song to their gods.

It is something which sets our species apart from others on this planet, and while birds have their song, humans have one completely different, that is varied and complex. Music is part of our lifeblood and what gives hope to our species as we venture into the unknown of the future. A world without music is a world where the vestiges of civilized humanity disappear.

Music and instruments have progressed over time. With the invention of a twelve tone scale, western music has become the prominent music form. With the creation of the twelve tone scale, new instruments were created. These instruments were able to play these scales and even more important, were able to play with one another. This lead to the creation of ensembles and written music. The next greatest invention , the printing press, allowed music to be shared worldwide.

Today, we still use the basic instruments such as the harp and flute, except that the are tunable and can play a wider range of notes and music. Music continues to tame the savage breast even today.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for used CDs, autographed CDs, and used musical instruments. You can find the best marketplace for used CDs, autographed CDs, and used musical instruments at these sites for used early music CDs, autographed early music CDs, and used early musical instruments.
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