~ AmerEuro music history ~

"What makes history relevant is an appreciation of how the decisions of the past shaped the challenges of the present." Steven Haycox

an old flute
natural scale
a world without chords
historical eras
historical theorists
ta
b
i
t
ta

 

Pythagoras Aristxenus Ptolemy Guido Glarean Zarlino Rameau

Gabrielle Galileo Botheus

'... visiting a few of the major milestones along history's pathway from then till now with a few quick stops in between ...'

.

As theorists ... sometimes we just have to believe and accept the fact that the solution of an inquiry can be something quite simple in its nature. We have this opportunity of understanding with music history. For if we understand the three basic ways of making music to tell our stories, then we can rightly know of the entire history of development of our musics. It all goes like this.

Just one melody. Like the singing of a song by a bird? The tones of a wind chimes conjured to life a breeze? That tune we carry a tune in a bucket? Just whistling up a ditty? That new hook that comes to us from ... there? All of these can be sounded as one melody line, a succession of musical tones in time that catches our ear. All monophonic? Yep, all 'one - voice.' And in our music history timeline, all the way back as far as the wayback machine can take us, music comes into being with a single melody line of single pitches knitted together. From the dawn of time to say 1200 AD?

hook
monophonic
polyphonic
towiki ~ monophonic

Two or more melodies sounding together. Two birds talking back and forth figuring something out? Mama and child singing a song of love? When we're liberally singing and interpreting "Happy Birthday" with a friend or two for the birthday celebrant? Two (or more) flutes, fiddles or kazoos jamming up a story? This is the basis of our next historical evolutions of our music from a theoretical perspective; from one melody line to two melodies sounded together. For now we as theorists examine this music and compare one pitch to another as they move together through time. So, a 'point (pitch) versus point' study as in the very formal academic and exacting study of counterpoint? Precisely.

towiki ~ counterpoint

Label, measure, match, mix them up and re-label, re-measure and vary to our hearts content. 'Polyphonic' is our theory term; 'many - voices.' And once we could produce, control and consistently recreate our pitches, jamm with other players and begin to write it all down, we enter into the next historical era of development for our musics. Surely we've heard and created two or more melodies together since the dawn of time. As music theorists and historians looking to neatly box this all in? Say, from 1200 AD to around 1750 or so? That'll get us in the ballpark it for now.

polyphonic
towiki ~ polyphonic

Melodies supported by chords. We know this best for it covers most if not all of our Americana musics. Were there kalimbas with Africans coming up through the Carribean's to America? Was there some sort of piano / keyboard instrument on the Mayflower from Europe coming over in 1620? Regardless, once these two peoples combined their music and had a consistent tuning of the pitches, we string players; banjos and guitarists et al had real chords to back our melodies. And from this point in our collective history as we often say, 'the rest is history :) So around 1800 and forward? Yep, that historically would be close enough for now.

kalimbas
keyboard instruments
tuning the pitches

Pythagoras Aristxenus Ptolemy Guido Glarean Zarlino Rameau

Gabrielle Galileo Botheus

In a nutshell. In theory there exists a way to advance our 12 pitch chromatic loop by doubling it size and along the way create a new environment for composition. This new (ha ... is anything new) diatonic arpeggio simply constructs through symmetry of the two thirds; minor and major. into a larger loop beyond our most common parameters while retaining both a melodic stepwise potential as well as the historically perfected tertian aspects of harmony.

musical environment
Atlas
Aynd

 

 

An easy way to understand the music theory of today is to get hip to its history. For truth be told, era by era new layers were added that simply expanded what we could do with the pitches we had, how they were tuned and the instruments we play them on.

Hollywood even gives us a sort of wayback machine with their movies. Any era of history and there's some video capturing the scene. And surely there's a music score for the film. And while not all a movie's music will be 'period', chances are somewhere in the score is a recreation of the music of that era. There's a chance it'll be cliche, those timeless bits of music that capture the era and aura of a point in history. Easy, cool and a fun to explore at the end of the day.

. hances are it'll also be cliche, even something corny. we simply create a very broad, musical timeline of events of our Western Civilization, one that begins to illuminate the origins and theories of our music systems. Chances are that other curiosities and questions will arise will reading the following descriptions, pursue them and you'll discover other worlds and ways of life that create the musics we love.

Here we simply create a very broad, musical timeline of events of our Western Civilization, one that begins to illuminate the origins and theories of our music systems. Chances are that other curiosities and questions will arise will reading the following descriptions, pursue them and you'll discover other worlds and ways of life that create the musics we love.

'Into the wayback ...'

A recent archeological discovery made in 1995 in central Europe unearthed what is today known to us as the Neanderthal flute, here's the pic of it.

Some moderns believe that this 'fragment' is a flute for playing melody lines. Thought to have been made by cats who probably lived a very, very, verily long time ago, we musicians just got to love that our melodies might reach that far back. Although there is some serious controversy among some scholars today, about this fragment of a hollowed out cave bear leg bone that they themselves didn't find, there are those that choose to believe it to be the earliest non percussion instrument ever found by us modernes to date.

Our modern scientific computer modeling and 3d printing helps us recreate a complete version of this early flute fragment, revealing that the fingering holes on the flute are spaced to create the pitches of our own diatonic scale. Today, these pitches could translate to be piano white keys from say A up to A.

There's a very cool performance video of a NOS Neanderthal flute in the hands of a local woodwinds master, recorded at the actual location of the original find, which given the other clues to home and hearth found in this particular cave, surely could end up being among our first gigs too ... I wonder if there are regular shows scheduled ... :)

Maybe check it out if you can. To hear the sound of a hollowed out bone played in a well lit cave is kind of bizarre but truely awe strucking and super inspiring. It just might be like 'drinking muddy water and sleepin' in a hollow log ...'

Controversial archaeological ruminations plus modern computer wizardry for sure, but still simply a way cool thought to consider no? That the pitches with us today have created melodies for perhaps as many as 2000 generations of our ancestors. That is a lot of lines. And if the pitches have been there for that long, then our memories of them are somewhere there also. Thus the tasking of today's artist to find these ancient melodies and bring them forth into the new light of today, reminding us all of the common ancient heritage we share together.

Gershwin's "Summertime" can be a first step in so many ways for emerging players. Find a version you dig and study it. Played live, everyone in the room probably knows the song, so good for business too. We all love these ancient diatonic pitches, which create melodies to reach deeply into our souls, stirring yet again a renewed passion and compassion for life and all we love. For 'with the power of soul, everything is possible ... :)'

'Into the mists of our antiquity ...'

( 2 ) 2500 years ago or so, the ancient Greek Pythagoras, created the "cycle of 5th's" we still in use today. His work forms the basis of our music theory system, which in this text is described as the 'silent architecture' of our music. Said to have been discovered while hearing a blacksmith's hammer strike the anvil, Pythagoras heard the "tones within a tone", our fundamental pitch and its overtones, and set out to understand this natural phenomena of sound. He did this by building a one stringed instrument called a monochord, and coaxed forth the natural overtones from the string, just like we do today. Pythagoras found that the intervals of the octave, the perfect 5th and its inverse the perfect 4th, were the 'purest' tones of our local musical universe. These softer sounds jump right out when properly coaxed from their location on a length of taut string and correspond to the pitches heard within the 'clang' of the blacksmith's hammer. Moving from his fundamental starting pitch up a 5th, then from that pitch up another 5th, i.e., C to G to D to A etc., Pythagoras envisioned a cycle of pure 5th's that would include the 12 different pitches of our present day, equal tempered chromatic scale. Unfortunately for Pythagorus' cycle of pure 5th's, and anyone else's for that matter, his ending pitch was a wee bit sharp of his starting pitch. We call this out of tuneness the 'Pythagorean comma', which baffled musicians, astronomers and mathematicians alike, taking nearly 2000 years to figure out and utilize it as an acceptable solution. We gain four of our seven modes still in use today from this era; the Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian modes.

'Notation begins the written record of melody ...'

( 3 ) Around 1200 years ago what is termed 'neumatic or note' symbols / notation evolved helping cats to begin writing down their melodic ideas. Developed in part by the monks and nuns in various European monastaries, it sets the melody pitches in place but cannot account for rhythms, which cats were still sorting out. The necessary solution comes to us as 'mensural or measured' notation beginning around 850 or so. So from this time forward up to today, any groove that is countable is then notate-able. Even a swing thing ? Well, that in part depends on who is reading what ... :)

With this new way to record, these cats could now write out everything they were already doing and songs they already knew by heart. This along with the new works that came along and surely in making extra copies. In a sense, a whole new world of musical opportunity appears, now including those with various writing skills in the mix with players. We moderne's get to see this type of game changing capture a bit later with the tape recorder armed Lomax Brothers here in America in the 1930's. Getting the early folk and blues from within its heartland.

 

Having evolved from what is known as mensural notation, neumatic notation preceeds our present day symbols, that with the addition of notating rhythms, became the standard system of preserving our music in written form at least 700 years prior to the emergence and acceptance of equal temper tuning and its vast harmonic capabilities. Interesting to note is that while the system of notation we use today was originally used to record music with a single melodic line, it has shown itself completely adaptable to nearly every aspect of the gradually increasing complexity of western music over the last 1000 years. So very cool if you ask me.

 

songs by heart

writing skills

Lomax Brothers

'Melody reigns in the music ...'

( 4 ) 1000 years ago, using Pythagorus' pitches and cycles, for Medieval musicians and composers monophonic music was the rage. Mono meaning one and phonic meaning sound, this rather ancient style of composition / performance consists of one main melody that everyone in the band plays, sings or motorizes on the drum. Strings and wind instruments have always been popular. The voice of course becomes the call.Monody is among the oldest forms of music we have record of and has been used in so many different styles of the many different cultures of our world. Listening to the musical sounds of our own American Native music is a good representation of indigenous, monophonic music. The Gregorian styled chanting of Medieval Europe are considered to be composed in the monophonic style.

musical styles

We hear a mostly monophonic approach today when listening to 'Irish fiddle musicians', among others, where each of the instruments involved play the same melody line together, musically termed in 'unison.' The monophonic sound also helped to shape our early American blues. At the religious revival meetings were the early Gospel sounds emerged, everyone sang the melody. And while not everyone was a trained singer and on pitch with the actual melody, the combined sound of variably pitched voices sounding together created an 'out of tune quality' that the blues artist eventually captured to get their 'blue' notes. Often accompanied by the six string guitar, the blues artist often sings their melody pitches a wee bit out of tune with their strings, or use a 'slide' on the strings to find their blues notes and work the magic. These blue notes oftentimes live between the pitches created by the frets, kinda like a blue 'sweet and sour' of pitches but mixed all together over a big, quarter note, 4 / 4 thump. (3) Once heard, the sounds and potential power of this monophonic style and variations are never really forgotten. And from the earthy simplicity of one melodic line it was inevitable that sooner or later ...

Gospel
blue notes

'The evolution of a two stranded musical DNA helix ...'

( 5 ) Nearly 1000 years ago, polyphonic music solidly emerged in written records and is still today a main course for composers, players, listeners and everyone in between. As the name implies, the "poly" means many, so polyphony is "many sounds." In our case as musicians, polyphony generally means two or more melody lines played simultaneously, oftentimes with independent rhythms in each line or voice. Quite a dramatic increase in complexity over the monophonic style. Polyphony is an important part of the pre-Baroque period style of European music and perhaps reached its apex many centuries later with the fugues of German master J.S. Bach. With the creation of the piano in 1700's in Italy, the next advancement in music complexity is in some ways a step backwards towards the monophonic style. Although this time the single melody line is lusciously supported by chords. Rhythms realign themselves more vertically as stacked pitches sound out chord progressions. With the 'equal tempering' of the piano, all of the 12 pitches now become equal partners in a vast and smoothly tuned tonal universe.

' ... getting hip with the harmony ...'

( 6 ) Nearly 500 years ago, homophonic music began emerging at the early dawn of what was to become the European Baroque era (1650's) and later flowered brilliantly during the Classical period (1750's) and forward. And from this point forward in Western music, the homophonic style of musical composition has had no peers and has never looked back.

The homophonic style of music, meaning literally 'same sound', is characterized by the distinct vertical 'stacking' of pitches to create chords which support a single melody line.

Today, while we may take these wonderfully powerful musical components for granted, lest we forget that at their emergence, chords and the lovely effect they create when paired with a single melody line, was a rather huge leap forward for all of the musical crafts people of the day, the composers, players, divas, builders, tuners, production people et all and dramatically altered the course of our musical evolution, the path of which we continue to follow today. (4)

'Americana ... the opportunities of a new world are revealed ...'

( 7 ) Also nearly 400 years ago, a 'New World' of Americana was developing on the American continents. Peoples from across the globe were coming to the Americas to merge with our native peoples. And of course they brought their musics.

pool of 12
musical styles

From heartland Native America the 'big 4' pulse of our rhythms. Banjos from Africa. Pianos from Europe. Six string guitars from Mexico. And of course the voices to carry the melodies to carry the traditions of these peoples as they made music new music together.

big 4 heartbeat
musical styles

American music today is really a mix of all of the cultures of the world. As global events shaped the world and new cultural discoveries were made, North American players and composers found a way to incorporate the new flavors into the mix of their sound.

pool of 12
musical styles

Combining African and European ideas, which places the monophonic African melodies over European equal temper harmony enables the basic weave of Americana musics of all stripes included. Based on the steady quarter note pulse and accent of Native American musics, , Often motored by exotic complex rhythms. (3)

pool of 12
musical styles

The American fabric of sounds of course includes all of the folk music of the many other immigrant groups that came and to a certain extent, are still coming to America, often retaining their original ethnic flavor. For example, we can clearly hear this today in the music from the British Isles, or Klezmer music, the traditional sounds of the Eastern European Jewish folks. More recently is the addition of the Latin percussion sounds into the jazz of the 1940's or the Jamaican reggae beats in the 70's. And while American musicians are often the leaders in setting global trends, as say in pop music and culture, without the continued importing of new ideas from around the world, I sometimes wonder if our musical leadership would be sustained. For at the core of the American genius lies the concept of diversity, that healthy, natural and invigorating principle that keeps our music fresh, evolving and alive.

pool of 12
musical styles

' ... 1817 Congo Square ...'

200 years ago now, there was a park in New Orleans

carribean

call response church

creoles of color euro and african classical

1838 newspaper brass bands parades mardi gras

3 opera

2 symphonies

mix gumbo share live together

minstral music blackface foster 1840 Foster Bland same shows traveled nationwide jim crow song

war but New Orleans is free by battle of NO 1861

abolition of slaves creates jazz

12 years reconstruction ends segregation jim crow laws

ragtime and the blues in 1890's become jazz

blues from the country coming into NOrleans simple tells a story

pure ameicana 3 chords 12 bars infinite variations @ 25 minutes in video caal and response moans all from the church services

this bluesify moves on to horns and phrasing

jim crow 1890's creole with classical chops adds the blues merges with the blues

 

buddy bolden legend big 4 / 39th minute a 2 bar phrase

1234 123and 4 as a triplet and 1 234 etc.

jelly roll morton travel piano

sidney bechet 98th minute of vid

1901 recording record players

James Reece Europe / Castle dancers / NYC orchestra leader into WW1 and Europe fox trot st louis blues

Freddie Keppard 1914 LA Chicago

 

king oliver

Louis solo voice star power

 

 

 

 

hich we continue to follow today. (4)

Footnotes:

(1)Burns, Ken. (Producer) (1990) Jazz [DVD], PBS Home Video, vol.1, Gumbo @ 10 minutes. United States: www.pbs.org

Hey Banjo ... meet Guitar.'

The last 200 years or so. Surely the story is out now how many of our early southern American settlers were making and playing their banjos, of the four and five string varieties (?) when the European six stringer came on through Texas from the Latin Americas. That they were tuned differently was never an issue. As early bluesmen could easily transfer their banjo tunings to six strings and add a slide. And by the 1830's, 'CF' Martin Guitars was in production in NYC and the rest as they say ... is history.

'Notation begins the written record of melody ...'

The last 100 years or so. Tis a while back now that a colleague mused about how the European classical cats took about 400 years to move their art from what we American jazz players think of as 'inside' to 'outside.' Inside implies diatonic; that the pitches of the melody perfectly align with the pitches of the harmony.

So from the completely inside magic of Monteverde and Scarlotti through the Bachs', Hayden and Handel to Mozart and Herr Beethoven, who's late quartets were too outside and unplayable in his own day, through to Brahms and Wagner with his veiled half diminished Tristan chord and on to Paris and the 'French Five's then into Hindemith, Stravinsky and Shostokovich, to the atonal cats of Ono and Glass, who's use of silence in one way provides the perfect outside closure to this 400 year journey of tonality from inside to out.

European classical music
diatonic
inside / outside

America's inside to outside journey is not quite a quarter in length of the Euro cats, about 80 years worth of development give or take, is probably 100% a jazz thing and commences around 1880 or so with ragtime. The early diatonically generated gospel and folk musics give room to merge with the blues of the deep South. From this point forward there is the potential for the diatonic inside to always have a bit of the out as the blue notes of the melody can create the 'outside rub' at the drop of a hat. Louis Armstrong takes center stage by the 1920's and mixes his new swing and the diatonic marching lines ingrained as a kid with the blues of his own neighborhood and what becomes stylistically known as jazz can now really begin to organically evolve.

diatonic
ragtime

About half way through this four score and seven years years of American musical development, the sleeker Two chord begins to sub for Four in cadential motions, helping to accelerate the music, tempos now limited only by one's chops and the gig. Thus empowered, its pretty much game on as the music begins to modulate, both in written compositions and in the blowing. Following closely in development on the sleeker heals of Two is V7b9, who's upper fully diminished chord contains the actual leading tones for new ideas and directions. Here Charlie Parker broadens existing and creates new boundaries for what is diatonically available inside by slivering up the diatonic pie to now include both the Two / Five cadential motions to key centers as well as use of the Two / Five motion as a non-resolving 'cell' that replaces the more common conventional diatonic motions of previous times. In Mr. Parker's work we can see how the use of super rapid articulated arpeggios becomes the core of the glue that somehow still keeps all the music on an inside track.

Once exhausted by bebop, the perfect symmetry of the diminished chord allows for free motion in up or down in minor thirds, which when thinking from Six, creates what I call the 'double Two/Five' motion hinted in a few spots but at the origin core of John Coltrane's evolution, not only a further exhausting of the resource but also ramping up the performance challenge initiated by Mr. Parker. and jazz.

Two for Four
cadential motions
chops
gig
musical styles
musical styles
Louis
musical styles
musical styles
musical styles

Americana music by decade

1880

1890

1900

1910

1920

1930

1940

1950

1960

1970's

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020 and beyond. the standardization of our music notation began to take shape. Thus, musical ideas of pitches and rhythm could be written down with pen and paper, accurately preserved and recreateable from manuscript. Evolving from what is known as mensural notation, our present day symbols became the standard system of preserving our music in written form at least 700 years prior to the emergence and acceptance of equal temper tuning and its vast harmonic capabilities. Interesting to note is that while the system of notation we use today was originally used to record music with a single melodic line, it has shown itself completely adaptable to nearly every aspect of the gradually increasing complexity of western music over the last 1000 years. So very cool if you ask me. Notation history.

pool of 12
musical styles

Quick history of American folk. the standardization of our music notation began to take shape. Thus, musical ideas of pitches and rhythm could be written down with pen and paper, accurately preserved and recreateable from manuscript. Evolving from what is known as mensural notation, our present day symbols became the standard system of preserving our music in written form at least 700 years prior to the emergence and acceptance of equal temper tuning and its vast harmonic capabilities. Interesting to note is that while the system of notation we use today was originally used to record music with a single melodic line, it has shown itself completely adaptable to nearly every aspect of the gradually increasing complexity of western music over the last 1000 years. So very cool if you ask me. Notation history.

pool of 12
musical styles

Quick history of American blues. the standardization of our music notation began to take shape. Thus, musical ideas of pitches and rhythm could be written down with pen and paper, accurately preserved and recreateable from manuscript. Evolving from what is known as mensural notation, our present day symbols became the standard system of preserving our music in written form at least 700 years prior to the emergence and acceptance of equal temper tuning and its vast harmonic capabilities. Interesting to note is that while the system of notation we use today was originally used to record music with a single melodic line, it has shown itself completely adaptable to nearly every aspect of the gradually increasing complexity of western music over the last 1000 years. So very cool if you ask me. Notation history.

pool of 12
musical styles

Quick history of American rock. the standardization of our music notation began to take shape. Thus, musical ideas of pitches and rhythm could be written down with pen and paper, accurately preserved and recreateable from manuscript. Evolving from what is known as mensural notation, our present day symbols became the standard system of preserving our music in written form at least 700 years prior to the emergence and acceptance of equal temper tuning and its vast harmonic capabilities. Interesting to note is that while the system of notation we use today was originally used to record music with a single melodic line, it has shown itself completely adaptable to nearly every aspect of the gradually increasing complexity of western music over the last 1000 years. So very cool if you ask me. Notation history.

pool of 12
musical styles

Quick history of American jazz. the standardization of our music notation began to take shape. Thus, musical ideas of pitches and rhythm could be written down with pen and paper, accurately preserved and recreateable from manuscript. Evolving from what is known as mensural notation, our present day symbols became the standard system of preserving our music in written form at least 700 years prior to the emergence and acceptance of equal temper tuning and its vast harmonic capabilities. Interesting to note is that while the system of notation we use today was originally used to record music with a single melodic line, it has shown itself completely adaptable to nearly every aspect of the gradually increasing complexity of western music over the last 1000 years. So very cool if you ask me. Notation history.

pool of 12
musical styles

Quick history of American pop. the standardization of our music notation began to take shape. Thus, musical ideas of pitches and rhythm could be written down with pen and paper, accurately preserved and recreateable from manuscript. Evolving from what is known as mensural notation, our present day symbols became the standard system of preserving our music in written form at least 700 years prior to the emergence and acceptance of equal temper tuning and its vast harmonic capabilities. Interesting to note is that while the system of notation we use today was originally used to record music with a single melodic line, it has shown itself completely adaptable to nearly every aspect of the gradually increasing complexity of western music over the last 1000 years. So very cool if you ask me. Notation history.

pool of 12
musical styles

 

Review. The history of music is a fascinating story that chronicles the evolution of the societies in which we have lived. Our story in this chapter starts with the Neanderthal flute, a cave bear bone fashioned into a flute some 50,000 years ago. We then moved up about 47,000 years to the ancient Greeks and Pythagoras in particular. He is credited with creating the cycle of 5th's, giving us our present day 12 pitch system of music. Early Western music was monophonic and created from one main, unaccompanied melody line. This evolved by adding additional, independent melody lines into polyphony. The next major phase came about with the invention of the piano and its eventual need for equal temper tuning. This new system made possible the full palette of chords or harmony for composers. Music written thus is said to be homophonic and uses stacks of pitches or chords struck simultaneously to support a single melody line. German composer and player J.S. Bach, while a prolific composer of the polyphonic style, was also said to be a champion of this new way of tuning called equal temper, of the wonderful chords it produces and its equality for each of the 12 pitches. Our American sounds come from a varied mix of music from cultures from all over the world. Knowledge of music history is cool in that it provides perspective of our present by looking at the past, while we can combine these two tenses and speculate about the future. So cool. "I think, therefore I am." Rene Descartes.

pool of 12
musical styles

"Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work."

(1)  Grout, Donald Jay. A History of Western Music, p. 10. W.W.Norton and Company Inc. New York, 1960.

modes
intervals

(2) Isacoff, Stuart. "Temperament ... The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle." U.S.A. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2001.

modes
intervals

(3) Schuller, Gunther. Early Jazz. New York: Oxford Press, 1968.

modes
intervals

 

(4) Barzun, Jacques. From Dawn To Decadence. HarperCollins Publishers Inc. New York 2000.

modes
intervals
Some say it was 45,000 years ago ... '

 

Footnotes:

(1)Mauleon-Santana, Rebeca. 101Montunos, p. iv. USA Sher Music Co.,Ca. 1999

(1) Isacoff, Stuart. Temperament ... The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle, p. 40-42. USA Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2001