Music is found in every known culture, past and present, varying wildly between times and places. Since all people of the world, including the most isolated tribal groups, have a form of music, it may be concluded that music is likely to have been present in the ancestral population prior to the dispersal of humans around the world. Consequently music may have been in existence for at least 50,000 years and the first music may have been invented in Africa and then evolved to become a fundamental constituent of human life. The music of the Classical period is characterized by homophonic texture, or an obvious melody with accompaniment. These new melodies tended to be almost voice-like and singable, allowing composers to actually replace singers as the focus of the music. Instrumental music therefore quickly replaced opera and other sung forms (such asoratorio) as the favorite of the musical audience and the epitome of great composition. However, opera did not disappear: during the classical period, several composers began producing operas for the general public in their native languages (previous operas were generally in Italian). Along with the gradual displacement of the voice in favor of stronger, clearer melodies, counterpoint also typically became a decorative flourish, often used near the end of a work or for a single movement. In its stead, simple patterns, such as arpeggios and, in piano music, Alberti bass (an accompaniment with a repeated pattern typically in the left hand), were used to liven the movement of the piece without creating a confusing additional voice. The now-popular instrumental music was dominated by several well-defined forms: the sonata, the symphony, and the concerto, though none of these were specifically defined or taught at the time as they are now in music theory. All three derive from sonata form, which is both the overlying form of an entire work and the structure of a single movement. Sonata form matured during the Classical era to become the primary form of instrumental compositions throughout the 19th century. The early Classical period was ushered in by the Mannheim School, which included such composers as Johann Stamitz, Franz Xaver Richter, Carl Stamitz, andChristian Cannabich. It exerted a profound influence on Joseph Haydn and, through him, on all subsequent European music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the central figure of the Classical period, and his phenomenal and varied output in all genres defines our perception of the period. Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert were transitional composers, leading into the Romantic period, with their expansion of existing genres, forms, and even functions of music.
•When we explore Medieval music, we are dealing with the longest and most distant period of musical history. It includes the Gregorian chant. Gregorian chant is monophonic, meaning music that consists of only one melodic line without accompaniment. Polyphony, music where two or more melodic lines are heard simultaneously, did not exist (or was not knotted) until the 11th century. Unlike chant, polyphony required the participation of a composer to combine the melodic lines in a pleasing manner.
•In the mid-1500s, a prominent bishop commented that music composed for the church should reflect the meaning of the words so that the listeners would be moved to piety. This
concept seems like a no-brainer today, but it was a fairly new idea at the time. To suggest that Medieval composers had no desire to write "expressive" music would be unfair. But, it was the rediscovery of ancient Greek ideals in the Renaissance that inspired many musicians to explore the eloquent possibilities of their art. •The increased value of individualism in the Renaissance is reflected by the changing role of the composer in society. Unlike most of their Medieval predecessors, the great masters of the Renaissance were revered in their own lifetimes. •...