The Origins of Music

Claire Miles
Mar 03, 2023

Music forms a major component of today’s life. It has shaped the art culture of regions around the world for as far as history has been recorded. This puts forth the question: when and how did music originate? Has it always been there? Was music used for the same purposes it is today? Relaxation, entertainment, patriotic purposes, and much more! According to anthropologists and historians, music most likely originated when prehistoric men and women started imitating sounds of nature. The reason for doing so was most likely recreational.

According to archeologists, the first musical instrument that mankind created was the flute. The invention of these dates back more than 35,000 years ago! It was much later that humans began to compose music. According to historians, the first ever written piece of music was discovered in Syria, some 3400 years back. So, for a long time, music was only auditory- it was not written or composed. This phenomenon is quite recent in human history.

Researchers have been able to study the history of music by analyzing the drawings on walls, vases, and other objects. In Ancient Greece, for instance, there existed instruments that were very similar to modern bagpipes. Consequently, the ancient civilization also invented lyre-like instruments. The origins of music can also be traced to ancient civilizations in India and the Middle East, particularly Egypt.

It was not until the Middle ages, especially during the renaissance, that music immensely developed! However, the music produced during that time was mainly devotional, telling stories of love and cavalry. This time period in human history was critical in the development of Classical Music- the kind we know today. Musicians initiated the development of counterpoint, the use of chromaticism, and overall, creating rich music that also led to the development of full orchestras. Some of which are still in use today! These include the sonata and the fugue.