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Static Wikipedia: Italiano -Inglese (ridotta) - Francese - Spagnolo - Tedesco - Portoghese
Esperanto - Napoletano - Siciliano - Estone - Quality - New - Chinese Standard  - Simple English - Catalan - Gallego - Euskera
Wikipedia for Schools: English - French - Spanish - Portuguese
101 free audiobooks - Stampa Alternativa - The Open DVD - Open Bach Project  - Libretti d'opera - Audiobook PG


From Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia written in simple English for easy reading.

Music is an art that puts sounds together in a way that people like or find interesting. The word music comes from the Greek Muse. In Ancient Greece the nine Muses were goddesses of music, poetry, art, etc.


[edit] What is music?

Music is sound that has been organized. If someone bangs saucepans while cooking, it makes noise, but if they are banged in a deliberate way, it is making music, even if other people in the house don’t like it.

Music must have started thousands of years ago. When people first banged pieces of wood together and enjoyed the sound, they were discovering music. Perhaps they discovered that, when they cut off the horns of animals they had killed and blew through them, they could make interesting sounds. They probably started to sing or shout in celebration.

There are four things which music often has:

  • 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 note. Some percussion instruments such as drums do not have pitch at all.
  • Music often has rhythm. Rhythm is the length of each note. You can tap the rhythm of a tune. Music usually has a regular beat.
  • Music often has degree. 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-ber"). It means the sort of sound. 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 your voice sound different from your friend's.

[edit] History of Western Music

It is not known what early music was like. Some architecture, even some paintings, are thousands of years old, but old music could not survive until people learned to write it down. The only way we can guess about music before that is by looking at very old paintings that show people playing musical instruments, or by finding them in archaeological digs (digging under the ground to find old things), or by what ancient writers wrote about them.

[edit] Middle Ages

The earliest piece of music that was ever written down and that has not been lost was discovered on a tablet written in Hurrian, a language spoken in and around northern Mesopotamia, from about 1500 BC. Much later, another early piece of written music that has survived was a round called Sumer is icumen in. It was written down by a monk around the year 1250. Music in the Middle Ages (roughly 450-1480) was mostly folk music. When people played instruments, they were usually playing for dancers. However, most of the music that was written down was for the Catholic church. This music is called Chant.

[edit] Renaissance

In the Renaissance (roughly 1450-1600) there was a lot of music, and many composers wrote music that has survived so that it can be performed - played or sung - today. Some very beautiful music was written for use in church services (sacred music), e.g. by the Italian composer Giovanni da Palestrina (1525-1594). There was also plenty of secular music (not sacred music i.e. not written for the church). There was dance music and lots of songs that were often very jolly.

[edit] Baroque

In the Baroque period, composers started to write for orchestras. They enjoyed writing music for big spaces, like the churches in Venice. Opera was invented around 1600. Kings and queens and other rich noblemen had their own private musicians who were their servants. Composers usually either worked for the church or for a rich nobleman at his court. The end of the Baroque period was the time of some very great composers whose music is played everywhere today: Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi and many others.

[edit] Classical period

The Classical period is about (1750-1825). Sometimes "classical music" is used to mean any art music that is not "pop music", but in the History of Music, it means the late 18th century. This was a time when people became very interested in ancient Roman and Greek art (often called the "classics"). In music, it was the time of great composers like Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. Orchestras had become bigger, and they often wrote longer pieces of music. The form of a piece of music was very important: it had to have a nice shape. The piano was invented during this time.

[edit] Romantic period

The 19th century is called the Romantic period. In music composers were particularly interested in putting their feelings into their music. Often music described a feeling or told a story. It was the period of "Nationalism" when many composers made their music typical of their country. Often they put folk songs from their country into their orchestral pieces. Lots of very famous composers lived at this time e.g. Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Frederic Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Richard Wagner.

[edit] Modern times

From about 1900 onwards is called the "modern period". 20th century composers found lots of different ways to compose. They searched for new ideas. Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) wrote pieces which were atonal (meaning that they did not sound as if they were in any key) and then discovered the twelve-tone system. Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) wrote music with very complicated chords and rhythms. Some composers thought music was getting too complicated and so they wrote Minimalist pieces which use very simple ideas. Later in the century composers experimented with electronic music. Today's composers like John Adams (born 1947) and James MacMillan (born 1959) often use a mixture of all these ideas, but they like to write tonal music with easy tunes as well.

[edit] Jazz

Jazz is a type of music that was invented around 1900 in New Orleans in the south of the USA. There were many black musicians living there. They put their knowledge of European music with their own African music and made something very new. Instruments like trumpet, saxophone, and clarinet were used for the tunes (melodic section), and percussion and plucked double bass for the background rhythm (rhythmic section). Jazz is usually improvised: the players make it up as they play. It has a swinging rhythm. Jazz influenced other types of music like classical music and pop music. Louis Armstrong (1900-1971) was particularly famous in the early days of jazz. There are several types of jazz including: blues, bebop, and reggae.

[edit] Pop music

"Pop" is short for popular. The term "pop music" can be used for all kinds of music written to be popular. It is generally used from about 1880 onwards. This was the time of "Tin Pan Alley". Modern pop music grew out of rock music (the kind of music of Elvis Presley in the 1950s). In the 1960s, The Beatles became the most famous pop group ever. Their songs are still sung today, in other words: they have become "classics". Pop music generally has a heavy beat so that it is suitable for dancing. Singers normally sing with microphones.

[edit] Musical notation

Mozart : Overture of the piano sonata K545 - this is what music often looks like when it is written down
Mozart : Overture of the piano sonata K545 - this is what music often looks like when it is written down

"Musical notation" means "the way music is written down". It is very useful to be able to read and write music because this is how composers (who may have lived a long time ago) can tell the person playing their music how they want their music to be played. Music is written on five parallel lines called a stave. Notes are put on the lines and in the spaces between the lines. It can be seen from the shape whether the music goes up or down. The lengths of the notes (how long they are played for) are shown by making the note-heads black or white, and by giving them stems and flags. Reading music involves being able to tell what the note is called and where to find it on the instrument, and being able imagine the sound, as well as learning about music theory (how music works: all about scales, intervals, ornaments, form, etc). This all helps someone to become a good musician. It is also useful to be able to play "by ear" (when people try to play music they have only heard).

[edit] How to enjoy music

[edit] By listening

People can enjoy music by listening to it. They can go to concerts to hear famous musicians perform. Classical music is usually performed in concert halls, but sometimes huge festivals are organized in which it is performed out of doors, in a field or stadium, like pop festivals. People can listen to music on CDs, iPods, television, or the radio. In fact, there is so much music today that it often becomes a background. It is good sometimes to listen carefully to music and decide what is liked about it.

[edit] By playing or singing

People can learn to play an instrument. They must choose an instrument that is practical and that they enjoy, must have a good teacher to make proper progress, and must practice regularly.

[edit] By composing

Anyone can make up his or her own pieces. It is not difficult to be a composer. All it takes is experimenting with the sounds that the instrument makes. Someone can make up a piece that tells a story, or just find a nice tune and think about ways it can be changed each time it is repeated. The instrument might be someone's own voice.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links