Make Music; Make History
Think of a flute. By contrast to today’s auditory technology, it seems like such a simple instrument; a long rod with holes in it to pass air through creating sound. So simple in fact, a flute may have been the first musical instrument I history. A in Southern Germany, a flute similar to the one you’re thinking of was found, only this flute is thought to be 35,000 years old.1 This flute’s story, unlike its build, is anything but simple. This flute is thought to be the mark of civilization of the Paleolithic era. It, and the music it creates is an example of a human civilization going from merely surviving, to thriving, a pattern that would live on throughout human history. Seen through comparative analysis of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian timelines; societies focus on music as well as music education marks the height of that civilizations academic, economic and spiritual existence. We can begin where many ideas in history have begun, in Ancient Greece. Eternally a stronghold of western civilization and topic of many a history lecture, Ancient Greece is a prime example of music marking the height of a nation’s society. In the precious time after the Persian Wars, but before the onset of the Peloponnesian Wars, Greece experienced what is known as the Golden Age or Classical Age of Greece.2 While the Golden Age was literally named after the detailed statues and intricate pottery work found from that time in Greek history, the name also serves as a strong and accurate connotative meaning. It was during this age Greece, as well as Greek music, was at its peak.3 Just as Greek government was pioneering the new use of democracy, Greek society was experimenting with a whole new perspective on music. What had previously mostly been use for official military matters and exclusive celebrations was now being seen as an art; music became mainstream. Most music of the time was monophonic, it wasn’t usually written out but learned by ear or taught by example, later to be advanced by philosophers and students.4 But it was the concept of music’s integration into every day society that revealed Greece’s rise to being a great civilization. Greece as a nation was no longer just trying to sustain life and gain land, they had moved past that onto exploring new ideas and wondering about the universe and their own existence. There were now artistic standards to be taught and followed, ones that would last for a sizeable denomination of Western Civilization. Athens, the capitol of Greece, led the forefront of the musical as well as educational focuses. Being the cultural and educational center of the world at the time, it would only make sense. In Athens, the great philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle studied and theorized about music, further regulating the art and more importantly making it considered a significant part of society. Plato in particular strongly stressed music’s role in education, he himself being a teacher. He believed music education, both vocal and instrumental, was necessary to strengthen the minds of his students. Being a student of Plato, Aristotle followed these ideas while inputting his own. Aristotle endorsed the concept of music as an enjoyable art, especially it’s role in drama and celebration. In Plato’s Academy (where Aristotle also taught) music took center stage in many classroom debates and Socratic seminars. The Academy’s students were taught music as an important art, and spread this idea across Greece as The Academy was one of the most influential institutions of the early civilization, touching the minds of many and spreading the concepts and ideas through the youth.5 No matter their styles, the two philosophers ideas on everything; politics, science, philosophy and of course music, were known to be true in all of Greece, cementing music education as a prime part of a blossoming society. Later in Greek history, music was fully involved in society, and reached a communicable base...
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