A Brief History of Western Music
Music is the study of sound, of rhythms, of harmony, of pitch, of timbre, all of which combine to create a meaningful composition. It’s one of the oldest universal cultural factors of all human cultures. We have all heard the songs sung by children and young people, even those far removed from the culture that they were born into. It’s part of the fabric of our everyday lives, and it seems to hold no differences between races, cultures, or social status.
There are four basic areas of musical composition. These include tonal music, accompaniment music, polyphonic music, and harmony music. The tonal music consists of the melody and rhythm of the music, the harmony, and the range of voices. Polyphonic music is a collection of tones and pulses of various octaves, rather than pure notes. Harmony is music with a great deal of melodic invention and is common in the works of composers such as Yo-Yo Ma and Thomas Newman.
Aristotle argued that music could be studied through observing the way that greeks approached music. For instance, Aristotle believed that some types of music were produced through imitation, while others had to do with the innate qualities of a variety of pitched instruments. Some instruments were created through necessity, such as the flute, while others, like the lute and the clarinet, were invented through invention or talent. The Greeks and the Romans were the first to use lyre and guitar for accompaniment, though many other cultures utilized similar devices over the years.