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History of western music

History of western music - acapella (timeline) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lExW80sXsHs
- Evolution of Music – Pentatonix (just first min)
Stone Age Music:
First example we have of man making music is in a prehistoric cave painting in Ariege,
Music was like magic, a gift from god, that man was able to make sounds through
stomping, beating of chests, clapping of early tribes etc. to bring rain, cure sickness,
tame animals and make crops grow
Later huntsmen made various musical instruments: rattles of pods and dried seeds,
drums of stretched animal skins, pipes from hollow bones or bamboo
By the time of the great empires of Egypt and China, there were many variations of the
early instruments – harps, pipes, drums and trumpets – used to worship gods and kings
in the palace and temples
Early Church & Music:
Early church drew on its Hebrew heritage in worship & music
o There was singing at the Lord’s Supper; the “hymn” was possibly Psalm 118
o Synagogue tunes and attitudes about music were adapted for Christian use
o Worldly tunes were shunned
o The use of instruments was frowned upon
o The entire membership of the church was encouraged to sing psalms
o The ideal was “singing with one voice”; choirs were added much later
o Both church and synagogue shunned the elaborate and sensuous music of the
Bible & Music:
The old testament talks a lot about music & the lives of the early people
Its association with magic, worship of various gods, & the worship of our God, the
Christian god, Jehovah
3 categories of sacred songs were mentioned in the bible: (1) Psalms, (2) hymns and (3)
spiritual songs:
o Psalms: Their music based on simple melodic patterns called tetrachords.
 Sung antiphonally.
 Sung in unison.
 “Lined”.
 Used responsively.
 Used for personal devotion; even young Christians were expected to
know them by heart.
 Used extensively within the services.
o Hymns:
 Poem or song to be used in worship or praise
 Likely to be Psalm of David, from Judaic traditions
 Eventually became plainsong/plainchant
Sang in monophony/one voice
Different styles or dialect emerged in diff regions
Eventually replaced by Gregorian Chant (rumor has it the Holy Ghost
sang to him and he dictated them – not likely true)
 As with other worship music, hymns were monophonic, with a later
addition of an “ison” or droning note in some instances.
 Hymns were generally syllabic as opposed to being melismatic.
 Syllabic: One note per syllable
 Melismatic: Many notes per syllable
 Hymns presented theological views – some were written to promote
heretical ideas, such as those of Arias; others were written to promote
orthodox ideas
 Hymn-writing was not encouraged at first but was particularly natural in a
Greek culture.
 Early hymnwriters included: Ephraim the Syrian, Hilary of Poitiers,
Jerome, and Ambrose.
o Spiritual Songs:
 Jubilations: Songs based upon “Alleluia” or another sacred word.
 Melismatic in character.
 Sometimes had no words at all - a Hebrew tradition
 Based on the ideal of the human voice as the perfect instrument of praise
 Vocal music was central to the celebrations of Eucharist and Agape.
 Agape contained:
o The blessing of the bread and cup (non Eucharistic) which
was received by all present.
o Traces of this meal are still retained by the Orthodox
Church and other churches
 Eucharist contained:
o rich thematic material which gradually formed the basis for
increasingly elaborate sung services:
 The Mass or Divine Liturgy
Places in the Old Testament that describe music –
o Destruction of the walls of Jericho
o Soothing of Saul’s anger by David’s harp
o David dancing before Noah’s ark
 Dancing in the Old testament was considered just as suitable as singing
and playing for worshipping god
o Psalms of David still sung at Jewish & Christian services - although the music
might have changed some
o Many music instruments were mentioned in the Old testament as well
 Shawms are reed pipes
 Psalteries are harps
 Tabors are drums
 Shofar are trumpets
In the New Testament:
o Book of Matthew: Last Supper: After the supper…Matthew 26:30 “And when they
had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives:
o Side bar – Greeks
 Greeks invented calling notes by letters. Wrote the letters above words to
guide how songs are sung.
 They held singing and playing contests at the Olympic Games
 Greek main instrument is the kithara (lyre) to accompany hymns singing
to the gods and the aulos (double reed pipe) for dancing music
 Music played a huge part in the Greek plays; using the chorus to literally
sing parts of the play
 Greek plays were originally a form of worship, music was included
for its magical and religious connections
 Poor people who could sing, play, juggle and dance traveled
around the Roman Empire performing. They were the early
wandering minstrels
 Church music in the Greek Orthodox church
 Almost the entire Orthodox liturgy is sung, most often to centuriesold melodic formulas. In addition to chanted liturgical texts, hymns
play an important role in Greek Orthodox worship
 Over 60,000 hymns, following one of a variety of prescribed
patterns, have been written for use in the Greek Orthodox church
 Though local custom may influence the way in which this music is
chanted, most singing follows traditional practice.
The Roman Church practices had a huge influence in Western Music:
Schola cantorum - Choir School were organized in the 5th century for training men and
Year 529, the Benedictines (Catholics) helped establish music traditions
Pope Gregory the Great (Pope from 590-604), recodified the liturgy and reorganized the
Schola cantorum. He set out to standardize church music, organization, worship, &
o Liturgical calendar: Roman church codified different periods of time to celebrate
the diff phases of life of Jesus: starts with Advent (before his birth), Christmas,
Epiphany (Jesus taken to the temple by his parents according to the Jewish
customs), Lent (40 days leading to death of Jesus), Easter (resurrection & 40
days spent on earth before ascension) & Pentecost (Ascension & Holy Ghost fell
upon the disciples) & rest of year before Advent
He compiled all the different chants into one collection – Gregorian chant – was named
after him
o different types of Gregorian Chant (proper tunes) for prayer, bible reading, psalm,
canticle, hymn, prose, antiphon, responsory, introit, alleluia and more
o Teachers were sent all over Europe to train choirs and make sure the proper
tunes were used
o Gregorian chant is the basis of music used in the services of the Roman Catholic
Origins of these tunes are likely from old Jewish psalm tunes and melodies from
the Middle East
Best known composer at the time: German nun, took vows at 14 yo: Hildegard
von Bingen, (poet, composer and wrote about medicine!) wrote in monophony
but more adventurous: more leaps, extended melismatic phrases, more than a
fifth and octaves leaps – jumps instead of smooth melodies.
 Famous/fascinating work is her liturgical drama: Ordo Virtutum: sung in
latin, morality play that features characters like Mercy, Innocence,
Chastity, the Penitent Soul and the Devil (who is the only character that
does NOT get to sing – by only speaks) = Music is a gift from God meant
for in worship, praise and prayer
 Do you hear the drone? She did not write in the drone, but it was
assumed that the drone was sung
Little marks called neums (medieval plainsong notation) were placed above
words to remind singers (who were taught the tune by the Church teachers) how
the notes went up or down
 This was the first karaoke-like notation (jumping dots on lyrics)
Notation evolved: over the years, one line, then 2 and 4 lines were used above
the words to make the spacing of the notes more exact – eventually 5 lines
became the modern music notation
Guido – invented naming the notes
Due to the wandering minstrels, instruments and dancing were associated with
merriment and thought to be unsuitable for the church. Only basic organs were
used inside the church.
A lot of chants were in Latin. With Muslim conquests and religious wars, Latin
unifying factor for the Western Church; it was the official language of the Liturgy
A precursor to modern hymnody was the result of words being set to the Alleluia
melodies - these were called sequences and became separate compositions.
They became popular songs
Speeding Through the Centuries with the beginnings of Polyphonic Music (from
Byzantine to Renaissance):
o Liturgy: Order of the worship
o Monophony = single melodic line
o Polyphony = multiple melodic lines that work together & can each stand on its
own = multiple voices
o Homophony = melody lines moving together in harmony or accompaniment & the
lines cannot be independent from each other
 Which means music moving onto new harmony, colors and texture
Periods of Western Musical History Graphic
o Stone Age
o Medieval 476 AD to 1400 AD
o Renaissance 1400 to 1600 AD – Gutenberg further developed the Chinese
printing press during the first millennium AD
o Baroque 1600-1750
o Classical 1750-1820
o Romantic 1820 – 1900
o Impressionist 1875 – 1925
o Modern 1900-1960
o Contemporary 1960 Byzantine Period:
o Polyphonic music (written; oral was way before Middle Ages) began around 11th
century. Primarily a western movement
o Great Schism happened in 1054: during the 11th century Christianity became
widespread, but there were many conflict and power struggles. The Great
Schism split the main faction of Christianity into two divisions, Roman Catholic
(West) and Eastern Orthodox (East) church.
o Widely believed that some monks were monotoned and naturally dropped the
melody a fourth or 5th and carried the chant with a different note than written
 Organum: One note drone during chant
 Parallel Organum: 5th throughout chant
 Mixed/Oblique Organum: sometimes droning, sometimes 5th below the
 Free Organum: parallel, contrary, or similar motion to the melody drone
 Discant/Florid Organum: singing at different rates i.e. number of notes not
matching to the melody
 Famous Notre Dam Organum: Leonin & Perotin: Magnus Lieber (The
Great Books – their own works collection!). (Lots of embellishments
(florid) to the melody)
o By the 14th century, Europe goes through a lot of instability through bubonic
plague, tiny ice age, wars etc. and the authority of the papacy was being
challenged and the arts in general were being secularized. More secular music
was being composed during this Ars Nova period (Rhythmic – time signatures notation more developed)
o There has always been a tension between the church and music: that music is a
distraction to worship and distracts from the message: St Augustine wrote:
“…[when] I am moved more by the song than by what is sung, I confess sinning
grievously, and I would prefer not to hear the singer at such times…”
o Pope John XXXII complained that complicated music was “distorted by a
multitude of notes…intoxicating rather than soothing to the ears…”
o However, Claudio Monteverdi said: “The end of all good music is to affect the
soul.” (Music can inspire us to be better)
o Plato said: “Where gives soul to the universe”
o Victor Hugo said: “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words.”
o Bob Marley: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”
o JS Bach: “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory
of God and the refreshment of the soul.”
o Takeaway: Church encourages musicians to make music, but requires them to
not be “too crazy” The musicians pushed the craziness meter…: church enabled
a lot of good music to be written, but the musicians also sometimes saw that the
church was overbearing towards their creativity:
o However, instruments became more important, and large organs were being
installed in increasing number of churches
Renaissance Period:
o The fall of Constantinople, 1453, set the beginnings of the Renaissance period,
many Byzantine scholars fled to Italy during this time
o Russia became the new center of Byzantine culture and continued the
development of musical traditions
o The Byzantine traditions would interact with Roman Catholic and Lutheran
scholarships in centuries to come, bringing about changes in musical styles
o 1501, we saw the first collection of music printed in moveable type
o Major and minor modes were implied by the use of the triad
o Compositions such as Masses often borrowed existing tunes – many secular
o The greatest musical achievement during the Middle Ages was the magnificent
church music written by the choirmasters of the royal chapels – John Dunstable
from England, Guillaume Dufay and Josquin des Pres from France.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goMeBZt5JZA – Kyrie (Missa Pange lingua) –
first of 5 parts – probably his last mass around 1515
o Many kings and princes from England, France and Italy were good musicians
and they employed composers to write music for them to play. In the 14th and
15th century, Royal churches also hired composers to write music, motets
(anthems) and Catholic masses, especially for Easter and Christmas church
o However, for ordinary people, they rarely had the opportunity to listen to the fine
Cathedral music. Their church music was still the plain official chants, their
entertainment music came from the traveling minstrels.
o The German lied was the precursor of the chorale, which would be used so
extensively in Protestant worship
o Martin Luther used Latin & German masses in worship
o Wanted all the congregation to take part in worship
o Chorale, like plainsong, consisting of text (mostly Latin – considered the scholarly
language) and tune was used
o Chorales led to distinctive style of the Lutheran motets
o Jean Calvin (1509-1564) opposed the retention of Catholic liturgy
o The Catholic Church sought to correct the abuse in music composition and
performance of Roman Catholic Church music
o The Council of Trent: 1545-63 insisted the following:
 Insisted that the words must once again be made paramount and must be
 Rejected works based on improper secular tunes.
 Criticized the use of noisy instruments in church.
 Condemned carelessness and irreverence in singers.
 Reforms and strengths of Catholic church music of this era were
epitomized by the music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina from St.
Mark’s, Venice
Baroque Period:
o Great composers such as Bach, Handel, and Purcell wrote in Oratorio style –
sacred opera
o The 17th century saw the advent of church cantata
The greatest writer of the cantata was J.S. Bach, whose cantatas are a
blend of Scripture quotations and introspective choruses composed to
illustrate the Bible
Bach 1685-1750:
 Bach was a deeply religious man: “Music’s only purpose should
be for the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit.”
 He routinely initialized at the end of his manuscripts:
 Bach’ life in 3 minutes:
 Bach Museum & his famous works:
o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcvUHdhROrk
Start at 1:17-5:44
 Catholic Mass: is the Catholic Church’s liturgy where the Last
Supper is reenacted: 3 parts: Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the
Word & Liturgy of the Eucharist: Each part has multiple sections,
can be spoken, intoned or sung, depending on where you are on
the liturgical calendar, those parts will be sung
o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv_jYkourt8 8:30
o Dona Nobis Pacem from Bach’s B minor Mass – St
Thomas boys choir
 Passions: The texts of Christ’s sufferings and death, the Passions,
were admirably dramatized by Bach’s music.
 Bach’s The Passion According to St Matthew – longer
complicated piece for orchestra, soloist and the chorus – usually
played on Good Friday
 Passion compositions in Bach's era usually elaborated on Christ's
betrayal, capture, and crucifixion. Bach's known Passions,
however, retain the Evangelist's narrative.
 Double chorus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oMWaucLFco
 Performance by boys choir at St Thomas church in Leipzig –
o One of the oldest boy choirs in Germany singing
Matthäuspassion (St Matthew Passion) by their own cantor
from XVII Century - J.S. Bach
 Bach’s Toccata & Fugue on the great Sauer organ of the Berliner
o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHNLdHe8uxY
o At the time of its dedication in 1905, the great Sauer Organ
of the Berliner Dom was the largest in Germany, with its
7269 pipes and 113 registers, distributed across four
manuals and pedals.
o The court organ builder Wilhelm Sauer, from Frankfurt on
the Oder, created an instrument that embodied the newest
technical and musical developments of German organ
building at the time. In that way, the organ met the high
expectations of both the organ builder and his client: in the
Protestant Cathedral of the capital city, there was to be a
monumental, modern, and in every way extraordinary
instrument of the highest quality. The organ of the
Cathedral of Berlin represents the highpoint of Sauer’s
career. At the same time, it marks the end of the long
development of Romantic orchestral organs, whose sound
corresponds to the characteristic sound of a symphonic
orchestra of that period. Today, the organ in the Cathedral
of Berlin is the largest late-Romantic pneumatic action
organ in the world that has survived in its original condition.
Handel 1685-1759:
 Handel’s life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BlK1CjryAg
Haydn, Bach, Mozart and Beethoven all considered Handel the
greatest composer ever and they said:
o He is the master of us all.- Haydn about Handel
 Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived - Beethoven about
 [Handel] is the only person I would wish to see before I die, and
the only person I would wish to be, were I not Bach. - Bach about
 But what was Handel’s response to all this adulation? In 1759,
whilst receiving a rapturous ovation after his last performance he
cried out:
o Not from me… but from Heaven… comes all.” And as he
was nearly blind and ailing he expressed his desire that he
would die on Good Friday “in the hope of rejoining the
good God, my sweet Lord and Saviour, on the day of His
resurrection”. He died on Easter Saturday.
 Handel is buried in the graveyard of Westminster Abbey next to
another Christian, the writer, Charles Dickens. Above his grave
are the words: “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
 Handel’s Messiah the Christmas Oratorio – it is in English!
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXGL5qZJ8iQ
(start at 2:22)
 Wrote in 24 days, 259 pages of music (over 2 hours
long) in just 3 weeks!! But he continued to revise if
over the years. Much of the money he made from
the Christmas oratorio performances were donated
to the poor
o Messiah Oratorio HWV 56 – For unto Us a Child is born:
o Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus:
o Analysis of the Hallelujah Chorus:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXGL5qZJ8iQ
(start at 5:41)
Sadly, both Handel and Bach became blind towards the end of their lives.
They had eye surgery from the same doctor – both operations
Classical Period:
o The great composers’ work during this period, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven,
embodied the ideals of the classical period of expressiveness and universal
 Haydn 1732-1809:
 Catholic composer; dedicated music to the Glory of God.
 Father of symphonies – wrote 104
 “Not from me – from there [heaven], above, comes everything!”
 Once, late in life, when Haydn met a devotee who heaped praise
upon him, Haydn cut him off. "“Do not speak so to me. You see
only a man granted talent and a good heart.”
 Mozart 1756-1791:
 7:34 min https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOP0NVGaqBw
 Wrote many popular and beautiful Masses, and a notable AIIeluia
as a concert piece.
 Of his compositions he once shared his secret: "“I prayed to God
for His mercy that all might go well, to His greater glory, and the
symphony began.”
 His Requiem Mass was commissioned by a mysterious stranger
dressed in a dark cloak while he was working on the Magic Flute
in 1791. Although Mozart was very ill, he started working on the
Requiem as he was deeply in debt. Mozart was a superstitious
man, he feared that he was writing his own Requiem. It proved to
be so, it is believed that he died of strep throat, with an infection
that had spread to his kidneys
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZRdla76Sd8 (4 min)
 Mozart was buried in the common grave after his death
 Beethoven 1770-1827:
 Ushered in the Romantic period with his fiery music; wrote
dramatic Masses and sacred Lieder.
Romantic Period:
o This period emphasized freedom, movement and passion (Grout). Individualism
was the major emphasis in worship as in other areas of life
o Catholic composers included:
 Schubert
 Francis Gounod
 Verdi
o Protestant composers included:
 Brahms
 Mendelssohn
 Samuel S. Wesley
o Orthodox composers included:
 Dmitri Bortniansky
 Tchaikovsky
 Rachmaninoff
o Melodies of the great composers were borrowed for hymns (such as Sibelius’
o Liturgical Renewal:
During the Romantic period, a liturgical revival was attempted in the
Roman Catholic church
 Pius X ordered a revival of the Gregorian chant and all malesinging choir
 Widely believed the liturgical renewal was due to the “paganism”
of composers like Richard Wagner 1813-1883 who was an
advocate of the German revolution in 1848-49. He is known for his
opera, The Flying Dutchman and the Bugs Bunny themed music!
 The revival of chant accompanied a return of Eucharistic piety
inspired by Pius X, the “Pope of the Eucharist”
 Liturgical renewal was also pursued in Russia prior to the
o Nationalistic composers used folk tunes in their sacred
o Extensive liturgical renewal continues
Modern Period (20th Century)
o Debussy
o Stravinsky
o Schoenberg (atonal music)
Minimalism Period (second half of 20th Century)
o Steve Reich
o John Adams
o Philip Glass
Western music and the church
o Psalms
o Notation
o Singing same notes
o Instruments
o Funding
Great composers who composed for the church
o Handel
o Haydn
o Bach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvyLebqTtW4
o Did Beethoven?
o Did Schubert?
o Did Salieri?
o Did Tchaikovsky?
o Did Rachmaninoff?
Praise Songs & Hymns today
Mozart the Genuis - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlpxjBgG-7E 2 min
Ruining Mozart – envy – 3.41 min https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2WALIes_84
Voice of God:
Bach https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/musiciansartistsandwriters/johannsebastian-bach.html
Haydn https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/musiciansartistsandwriters/georgefrideric-handel.html
Chinese Music influenced by Daoism, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVUqWsrr7Eo
Buddhism & Homage to Ancestors, Christian ministry affected Chinese music (Oh Suzanna in
20th Century)
Pipa, Suona, Erhu, Dizi, Guzheng, Hulusi, Sheng
In tune or not in tune is cultural
A brief history of Classical music (from 1000 AD to the present) 11 min
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhILC0TPaTw 14 min (printing press, notations, composers)
Keep it Classical: Church and music 12 min
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMxAbRrLuvg 3 min – Church music and history 0:55
Birth of Polyphony: 12 min
Ars Nova and the Roman Catholic Mass 12 min (rhythmic development & notation)
Brief History of Christian Worship Music: