Music can be seen in many different ways. Some hold its definition to a stricter standard than others, while some use music extremely loosely. As far as I am concerned, music could be any type of sound that you hear. If you think that its music, most likely it is. People tend to think that music has to hold up to a certain definition such has having a rhythm, melodies, harmonies, and all sorts of other things. But if you really think about it, the way we see music today would be nothing if it didn’t start somewhere. A lot of people point to the origins of music as being from a descendant of Cain, named Jubal. The Bible indicates, however, that the first man knew and practiced music, albeit, the origins of music came even before Adam and Eve. Think of the singing and shouts of angels that happened before Earth. This, from the Bible, is all pointing to what seems that music has basically always existed and just is. Taking another standpoint, say one unrelated to the Bible, what about music before humans existed? The bellowing of dinosaurs, the loud squawks of pterodactyls, or the screams of early primates all could be included on the search for where music originated. As mentioned earlier, a lot of people believe that most any sound can be considered music, so why not these sounds? Even before then, before Earth, at the creation of the universe. Surely they didn’t call it the “Bing Bang” for nothing. Surely that made some sort of sound, despite there being nobody there to hear it and appreciate its sound as music. Away from all these random sounds though, if you really want to be strict about what elements define music, such as tones, rhythm, syncopation and all that, then let’s go forward in time. A lot forward. The first known piece of music was found in an ancient document of the Syrian peoples. It is dated to be as old as 3400 years old. Scientists and musicians have worked together to restore the document and record what it may have sounded like using recreations of ancient instruments. This is a recreation of the song:
While this certainly isn’t the first music ever, it is only the oldest known composition. It includes all of the common elements one may think about when thinking of music, rhythm, melodies, harmonies, all of that. So perhaps, it was the ancient Syrians that created melodic music. Surely before that, however, prehistoric aboriginal people banged on tree stump drums and danced around a fire or something. On the far other side of things though, some people go the extra mile with how loosely they use the term music, or maybe light-years. Since the late 1800s, people have been using electronic devices to create sounds to use in compositions. Even making noise machines which they would use to create what they thought of as being true creations of music art, similar to any other art that evolves over time and has an experimental side. A good example of early experimental compositions is that of Luigi Russolo, a futurist artist of the early 1900s and is considered the first noise artist. His 1913 manifesto, “L’Arte dei Rumori” which translates to English as, “The Art of Noises,” made a statement that the industrial revolution gave man new ideas and a greater capacity to appreciate more complex and out-of-the-norm sounds. Here is an example of his works:
He found most music of his time to be too confining and that noise music would be the sound of the future. Another great advent of the early 1900s was the invention of the first electronic instrument, the Theremin, invented by Russian inventor, Léon Theremin. This instrument worked by using two metal antennas to sense the relative position of the user’s hands which controlled the frequency oscillators with one hand, the volume amplitude with the other. Many neo-classical pieces were even written specifically for the Theremin. Coming forward a few decades to the 1950s brings along the creation of the synthesizer. The RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer was one of the first music synthesizers. It featured fully-automated binary sequencers which used paper tape readers to send the notes to the machine to play. The device was similar to player piano. After that came the first commercially available synthesizer invented by Robert Moog. With his new modular synthesizers being available to anyone who could afford one, many people started creating experimental compositions with this, and even remade classical music on it. Artists like Laurie Spiegel and Tangerine Dream were among the first to take these kinds of synthesizers and use them to create ambient, droning, experimental pieces. Since then, many others have used synthesizers in various ways. In the late 60s and early 70s, synthesizers became more popular in music. Lots of pop icons and rock bands began using them in their songs. Everyone from Led Zeppelin to Stevie Wonder began using different types of synthesizers, mostly those such as the Moog synthesizers, to make the sounds of the future. Another group that used experimental synthesizers and sounds in the 70s was a German group called Kraftwerk. With their innovating sound design and use of synthesizers, they paved the way for how electronic music sounds today. Everything got pretty crazy in the 80s, however. In 1982, Roland released their TB-303 bass line synthesizer. It was introduced to be used as a substitute for bands who couldn’t afford or didn’t have the need for a bass player. Although it was supposed to be used for this, most bands found it difficult to program and its 90 page manual certainly didn’t help. Though it was used some in the 80s in pop music, a small group of people took and used it in a much different way. They transposed the bass line up an octave or so and added distortion to it, as well as modulating the cutoff and resonance knobs thereby making over-the-top, screeching synth lines to use in what came to be known as Acid House. Would you consider this to be music?
Later, in the 1990s, came about much more innovative and experimental sounds. With the advent of an affordable home computer, many more people were able to experiment and play around with digital music equipment in their own home. People began making all kinds of new sounds. People were sampling old songs, using digital drum samples, using digital effects on sounds, and doing anything they could to be different. One thing people started doing was taking some of the basics of house music and acid house music, the four-on-the-floor beat pattern and use of the TB-303 synth and speeding it up to a faster tempo; anywhere from 180 to 300 BPM. They would distort the kick drum creating an aggressive and energetic sound known as gabber. It was made to be loud, in your face, and aggressive. It certainly is that. People of course still make this style of music, and it has even evolved quite a bit since the 90s. If you think that is oddest of it all, it gets even weirder. More recently, people have been creating rhythms out of nothing but noise loops, distorted and heavily effected instruments, and other such things.. People have been doing similar things since the 50s where people would splice together bits of tape to form a composition. Here is a more modern example:
While some people wouldn’t listen to this at all, and even would call it music. However, there are people that really do like this type of stuff. They think of it as a true form of art and they enjoy it. Basically, to sum this entire little blog up, in my opinion, any sound can be music, even the most avant-garde things. I guess you can say I’m just extremely open minded. Maybe I’ve changed your view as well.