To understand the full extent of music history, just imagine how long humans have been on earth. Even before musical instruments, there was always a way to make some sort of music. Some believe that music as made by humans may have been influenced by the songs of birds, and that it may even be older than the spoken word.
Once the written language came into being, the period in music history known as the prehistoric music ended, and the period of ancient music began. Originally thought to be a time of all monophonic music, recent evidence has proven that music of this era did, in fact, have harmony. Music in this period was especially important to the Greeks, where mixed-gender choruses performed.
Classical music is described in many periods of music history. Early music is considered the time period from the fall of the Roman Empire until the mid-18th century. This time period was classified with subcategories of Medieval music, Renaissance music, and the Baroque era. The Baroque era was when instrumental music became dominant.
The Classical music era starts the time in music history that many of us know about. This era included such composers as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Franz Schubert and Beethoven lead the Classical music era into the Romantic period, another very famous time in the history of music. Such composers as Chopin and Tchaikovsky characterize this time of expressive and emotional music.
Classical music even spilled into the 20th century, becoming more modern, with the use of electronic instruments incorporated in the 1940's. New styles of music, such as folk, blues, jazz, rock and roll, and many more, also began to develop starting in the 20th century. Other new styles included country, disco, salsa, heavy metal, electronic, world, and new age. The world of music today is very diverse, and there's something for everyone!
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