In this Issue of the Chronicle, we start Part #1 of our 12-part series of the "History of the Sounds of Modern Music." Our objective is to follow the Sounds made by innovative Humans and their Instruments that have evolved throughout the Centuries of Man-on-Earth.

Part #1 - Early Civilizations Part #2 - Pre Civil War

Part #3 - Post Civil War Part #4 - New Orleans Blues

Part #5 - The River Boat Era Part #6 - Chicago Jazz

Part #7 - The Roaring 20s Part #7 - The Swing Era

Part #8 - Post World War II Part #9 - The 1950s

Part #9 - The 1960s Part #10 - Woodstock Era

Part #11 - The 1970s Part #12 - The 1980s

The Classic Rock Chronicle

I Issue #7 June 12, 2024

Everything Classic Rock... the CRocker's Voice

The Classic Rock Chronicle was created to provide regularly updated Content about the "Goings-on" of the Vast, eclectic, and important period of Classic Rock from 1964 to 1984... Come along and enjoy the ride, Mates

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History of the “Sounds” of Music

Classic Rock

By William W. Nelson

Founder of the Asheville School of Classic Rock

The Roots of Modern Music...

The purpose of this article is to trace the “Roots” of Music… and to emphasize that early forms of (Sounds) were the key to survival and Clan events. Clapping hands, whacking wood pieces with different Tones, Bone pipes, and Rock Gongs were used for signals of action and response. During periods of conflict, fires were lit from outposts and drum signals warned about the advancing Tribes… Sounds had meaning to them, just like they do to our listening preferences today.

Archaeology tells us that the earliest Humans go as far back as 2 million years with Language making an appearance around 70,000 to 100,000 years ago. With the advent of language came the discovery of the other wonders of the voice: singing, humming, and perhaps even whistling. It’s not a leap, either, to imagine that the more rhythmically inclined of our Ancestors quickly figured out that it’s fascinating to accompany these vocal experiments with clapping, stomping, the beating of sticks and stones, and other percussive sounds.

Let us take a walk on the evolutionary Path of Sounds and the innovation of Instruments that produced them…

  • The Stone Age - The music of the Paleolithic Period was likely an integral part of rituals and communal activities, reflecting the cultural and spiritual practices of early human societies. It used Animal parts, Stones, and Wood to create Sounds unique to each Clan. The use of Animal Bones pounded on a skin stretched across a carcass were probably used to tell when Clan events were to be held especially for burials, to notify a Camp that invaders were coming (fires were also a signal), and when it was safe to bed down

  • The Bronze Age - Instruments such as Horns, Rattles, Harps, and Auloi (ancient Greek Reed instruments) were prevalent during this time. Next came the Musical Bow String Instrument using Antlers...

  • The Iron Age - Instruments such as the Pipe, Flute, Shofar, and Trumpet were prevalent… The earliest testimonies of musical invention is this 60,000-year-old Flute found at Cerkno, modern-day Slovenia.

Note: Affected by the singing of Birds, the roars and growls of Animals, and the cries of distress or alarms, Humans sang out their feelings long before they were able to speak their thoughts. But of course we must not imagine that "singing" means exactly the same thing here as in a modern Concert Hall.

These utterances were, at first, like the singing of birds and the roaring of many animals and the crooning of Babies, exclamative, not communicative... that is, they came forth from an inner craving of the individual without any thought of any fellow creatures. Our remote ancestors had not the slightest notion that such a thing as communicating ideas and feelings to someone else was possible.

  • Classical Antiquity - Classic Antiquity Music originated between the 8th the 5th Century BCE and became the origin of Modern Music by c.1150… the music of Classical Antiquity was primarily melodic, text-driven, and centered around a variety of wind, string, and percussion instruments, with some theoretical foundations laid by Greek thinkers.Adapted from (Source)

  • Medieval (c.1150-1400) Around the 12th century is when the earliest records of secular music begin to show up. Early music from the 12th-century troubadours in the form of virelais and ballades were recorded in manuscripts that were held and created by the Church, therefore having rules and regulations governed by it.

  • Renaissance (c.1400-1600) The Renaissance Era is when Composers began evolving the use of Harmony and Polyphony in their compositions. It became more common to have two or more voices (or instruments) following interrelated parts. Most Composers focused on writing Choral pieces and not a lot of instrumental pieces have survived from this era. Bartolomeo Cristofori , an Italian Instrument maker from Padua, is credited as the inventor of the crude Piano. While predecessors like the Clavichord and Harpsichord existed, Cristofori's design incorporated the ability to vary volume and sustain notes, which was a revolutionary development.

In the second half of this Era is when composers began to move away from the original Modal System of harmony (which sounds outdated to our modern ears) and started to organize these sounds into major and minor scales. This is when music began having a more definite key center. Since music is still much tied to the Church at this point, we see new forms of worship music such as Anthems, Masses, Psalms, and Motets. Early instrumental music (mostly for keyboard instruments) such as fantasias, variations and dance movements start to show up near the end of this era.

  • Baroque (c1600-1750) It is during the Baroque Era that we saw the development and emergence of what we know as the modern orchestra and opera (the Overture, concerto, prelude and arias etc). During this period is also when we see the use of Violin, Cello, and Viola. The Harpsichord, a favorite of many, was also evolving along with developments in all instrument groups that would shape the next 300 years of music.

During this era, we see the old modal system of Harmony disappear as the use of the major and minor scales system becomes most prominent. It is around this time that composers began focusing less on choral music and writing more colorful and expressive instrumental pieces. Music had started becoming a part of everyday life, with concerts performed outside for almost any occasion. Having Musicians perform at your dinner parties was a sign of status and riches.

  • Classical (c.1750-1830) Whereas the Baroque Era was a period of the development of the sound, expression and color of classical music composition, the classical era saw the development of form and clarity in structure and order. During this Era, the development of the form of what we know as the modern Sonata began. Along with the sonata form, the further development of the concerto and symphony forms also reached a new level of refined order.

During this period, German composers such as Schobert and Honnaur dominated (although now largely forgotten). During the last half of the 18th century (a period described as Rococo or Galante) is when we see the emergence of Mozart (a child virtuoso and one of the world’s most famous composers), who almost single-handedly developed what we know as the Piano Concerto. Let us not forget Bach's pioneering keyboard works, diverse instrumental compositions, assimilation of styles, and contrapuntal genius established him as one of the most influential and revered composers in the history of Western Instrumental Music.

Summary of the Evolution of Musical Sounds to 1830...

The Keys to the evolution of Music lies in the innovation of Humans to make and refine the Sounds that came from Instruments... the first being the Drum. Its Signals alerted Clans of trouble ahead, arriving food sources, and events of Social Bonding and Rituals.

Next came a piece of Bone from a Wolly mammoth hollowed out with holes (Flute) carved to make Sounds by blowing simple Sounds probably at Celebrations or Funerals. It makes sense that the first Band on Earth was made up of the simple Sounds of Different Drums and Flutes.

The Renaissance period witnessed a flourishing of Secular Music, with the rise of instrumental music and the development of new musical forms like the madrigal and the motet. Composers like Palestrina and Byrd made significant contributions to sacred and secular music during this time.

As Human Civilization developed over time, so did the innovation of musical instruments. Various cultures around the world have contributed to the development of musical instrument, from the ancient Egyptians with their complex harps to the Chinese with their versatile Canons. Over time, Instruments became more complex, including Strings, Winds, and Percussion Instruments. As the years passed and the possibilities increased, the production of musical instruments began to become of much higher quality. The advent of metalworking techniques further expanded the possibilities and led to the creation of Brass and Woodwind instruments.

During the Middle Ages, music was heavily influenced by the Christian Church. Gregorian Chants and Sacred Music dominated the musical landscape. The development of musical Notation systems, such as Neumes, allowed for the preservation and transmission of musical compositions... Chant was probably sung since the earliest days of the Church, for centuries

The Baroque period saw the emergence of new Musical Genres, such as the Opera, Concerto, and simple Sonatas. Composers like Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel created masterpieces that showcased the intricate counterpoint and ornamentation characteristic of the Baroque style.

The Classical Period, with composers like Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, brought a greater emphasis on balance, clarity, and emotional restraint in Music. The development of the symphony, string quartet, and sonata form were significant achievements of this era.

During this period, German composers such as Schobert and Honnaur dominated (although now largely forgotten). During the last half of the 18th century (a period described as Rococo or Galante) is when we see the emergence of Mozart (a child virtuoso and one of the world’s most famous composers), who almost single-handedly developed what we know as the Piano Concerto.

Then along came composers like Haydn, Beethoven, and Bach who brought a greater emphasis on balance, clarity, and emotional restraint in Music.

"Innovation" was driven by the cultural, social, and technological developments of various Civilizations, each contributing to the rich tapestry of musical traditions that continue to influence and inspire Musicians today.

This is the end of Part #1 of the "History of the Sounds of Modern Music." It is clear that the impact of the Protestant Reformation Period in the 1500s and the evolution of Gospel Music in Churches had a significant influence on the Evolution to what we call “Modern Music”… meaning that there is “some kind of Music” on Planet Earth for every Animal to enjoy!

In Part #2 we will cover the Music of the pre-Civil War period to 1860 and how things began to change in the post-Civil War period to 1899...

Beethovan was to the 1800s as Elvis was in 1950!


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