Reply To: Music

  • Encyclios

    April 24, 2023 at 9:28 AM

    History of Music

    Music has been one of the fundamental manifestations of the way of being of primitive man, who attached to the sound a complex of magical meanings, identifying in it the means of a privileged relationship with empirical reality and with its mysterious links to the world of the supernatural. This magical and religious connotation of sound is an almost constant feature of the musical experience both in prehistoric times and in the first great historical civilizations: the Sumerians, the Assyro-Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Indians, the Hebrews have in fact attributed to music a central place in their cosmogonies and have also given it a particular importance in their liturgies.

    This characteristic is also recognizable in the cultures of oriental and South American peoples and is also found in the worldview of today’s peoples on an ethnological level. The sacred character attached to musical expression, however, was never preclusive of its presence in all contingencies of existence, from the most humble to the most solemn. Unlike what happens for other arts, the testimonies on music are for all antiquity extremely incomplete and fragmentary, because the iconographic representations, the archaeological finds of instruments, the literary testimonies, the very rare fragments of music noted constitute indirect elements of judgment, to be integrated with a massive mass of information that ethnomusicology studies according to a strict comparative criterion.

    As large and significant as the material currently available is (especially as it refers to ethnomusicological documents recorded through field research and indicative of cultural stages belonging to previous eras), it should be noted that studies have reached acquisitions still partial and very difficult to generalize. Even if it is now widely demonstrated that the European musical civilization constitutes a substantially limited sector of a wider experience that, at least until a certain epoch (the lower Middle Ages), encompasses it, and that certain technical aspects of its musical language (for example polyphony) or of its theoretical vision (such as the tempered scale) are not at all its distinctive peculiarities, but have appeared in other civilizations even hundreds or thousands of years before, it remains incontrovertible that the Western musical system has recognized (thanks also to its rationality) a complexity of development and diffusion that no other musical tradition can boast.