Music History

Music Historylessonsby Vasiliki Dimakopoulou, Piano Teacher

Do you know why we use the word music? Where does it come from?

The word “music” derives from greek mousike, (μουσική), which originally referred to any of the arts governed by nine Muses (or mousa), daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne

The Nine Muses of the Greek Mythology

“Sing to me oh muse…” (Homer says…)

The Nine Muses of the Greek Mythology were deities that gave artists, philosophers and individuals the necessary inspiration for creation.
Hesiod reveals that they called Muses or Mouses in Greek (μούσες), as the Greek word “mosis” refers to the desire and wish. The word museum also comes from the Greek Muses.

The Muses in The Greek Mythology

As above mentioned, the 9 muses were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.

Mnemosyne gave the babies to Nymph Eufime and God Apollo. When they grew up they showed their tendency to the arts, taught by God Apollo himself.

They were not interested in anything of the regular human everyday life and they wantd to dedicate their lives to the Arts. Apollo brought them to the big and beautiful Mount Elikonas, where the older Temple of Zeus used to be. Ever since, the Muses supported and encouraged creation, enhancing imagination and inspiration of the artists.

Muses and Arts

According to the Greek Mythology, two Muses invented theory and practice in learning, three Muses invented the musical vibrations in Lyre, four Muses invented the four known dialects in the language – Attica, Ioanian, Aeolian and Dorian – and five Muses the five human senses.
Seven muses invented the seven chords of the lyre, the seven celestial zone, the seven planets and the seven vocals of the Greek Alphabet.

Analytically The Nine Muses Are:

  1. Clio: The Muse Clio discovered history and guitar. History was named Clio in the ancient years, because it refers to “kleos” the Greek word for the heroic atcs. Clio was always represented with a clarion in the right arm and a book in the left hand.
  2. Euterpe: Muse Euterpe discovered several musical instruments, courses and dialectic. She was always depicted holding a flute, while many instruments were always around her.
  3. Thalia: Muse Thalia was a protector of comedy; she discovered comedy, geometry, architectural science and agriculture. She was also protector of Symposiums. She was always depicted holding a theatrical – comedy mask.
  4. Melpomene: Opposite from Thalia, Muse Melpomene was the protector of Tragedy; she invented tragedy, rhetoric speech and Melos. She was depicted holding a tragedy mask and usually bearing a bat.
  5. Terpsichore: Terpsichore was the protector of dance; she invented dances, the harp and education. She was called Terpsichore because she was enjoying and having fun with dancing (“Terpo” in Greek refers to be amused). She was depicted wearing laurels on her head, holding a harp and dancing.
  6. Erato: Muse Erato was the protector of Love and Love Poetry – as well as wedding. Her name comes from the Greek word “Eros” that refers to the feeling of falling in love. She was depicted holding a lyre and love arrows and bows.
  7. Polymnia: Muse Polymnia was the protector of the divine hymns and mimic art; she invented geometry and grammar. She was depicted looking up to the Sky, holding a lyre.
  8. Ourania: Muse Ourania was the protector of the celestials objects and stars; she invented astronomy. She was always depicted bearing stars, a celestial sphere and a bow compass.
  9. Calliope: Muse Calliope was the superior Muse. She was accompanying kings and princes in order to impose justice and serenity. She was the protector of heroic poems and rhetoric art. According to the myth, Homer asks from Calliope to inspire him while writing Iliad and Odyssey, and, thus, Calliope is depicted holding laurels in one hand and the two Homeric poems in the other hand.

The Originof musicby Vasiliki Dimakopoulou, Piano Teacher

We learned about the name but how did music start?

The question about the origin and appearance of music has always been an issue among philosophers, musicologists and historians. Many studies have been done and many theories have been formulated up to today. As a final conclusion, it seems that music is completely connected with man.

The latest studies on the music of primitive civilisations, as well as the findings of excavations from the Stone Age, convince us of the existence of musical events in the primitive community. Primitive man is fortunate to have a wonderful musical instrument: his voice. Thus it is possible that the first cries as an expression of communication, joy, pain, etc., contain a rudimentary musical character. So vocal music seems to precede even the most basic organic.

Of course, someday the primitive man begins to accompany his song with the clapping of his hands. So here is the first percussion instrument! Later, blowing a hollow rod that falls into his hands comes in contact with the sound of wind instruments. Finally, the string of the bow that buzzes next to his ear, when he goes out hunting, reveals to him the world of strings.

After several thousand years and man is freed from magic, religion and education later influence the evolution of music, which takes a prominent place in rituals and becomes a musical art, which accompanies man from time to time, offering aesthetic satisfaction in his spiritual world.

Chinese music instruments

Music instruments of India

Music instruments in Egypt

Music instruments of Israel

Music in ancient civilisations

Thousands years ago, the Chinese have cultivated music with great care. From the 5th millennium BC (4,500 BC), as various sources inform us, music was part of their philosophical system and served for the good administration of the state. That is why its composition was initially the exclusive privilege of the emperor.

Both in the formal court life and in the daily life of the people, parades, funeral processions, etc., music played a very important role. Based on acoustics, the Chinese defined the tonal system we still use today.

From the Vedas, their sacred books, as well as from their sculptures and paintings, we learn that Indian music was closely intertwined with their cosmological and religious beliefs. United with speech and dance, it was a privileged priest and of the upper social classes, without this hindering the development of a purely folk music.

It is characteristic that the musical instruments of the Indians present a great variety and remain the same for about 3,000 years.

Although no theoretical books or signs of musical notation have survived, the rich illustration of the royal tombs, paintings, sculptures, vases, etc., and especially the flutes that were found inside them, give us a clear idea of Egyptian musical culture.

As in China, so in Egypt, music was closely intertwined with all aspects of life. In the temple, Pharaoh himself, the supreme religious and political ruler, sings religious hymns. At palace ceremonies or folk festivals, music set the tone and joy. Also in many performances we see the song accompanying various activities.

Few peoples were as distinguished for their love of music as the Jews. Because their religion forbade images, their worship needs found a way out of music and poetry, which they developed. Moses (Genesis, IV, 21), calls Jubal “father of all guitar and flute players”.

The Psalms are real songs. We have no information about the composition and architecture of Jewish music and only in comparison with Greek music, we can imagine some things. The Jews apparently had no musical notation. However, the need to preserve their musical tradition, forced them in the 9th to 10th century AD. to create a kind of name.

Source: History of Music by Karl Nef