Music history

If you search for evidence of the origins of music in ancient documents, you will come across a dark veil, which does not allow us to have any certainty about it. An ancient artefact documenting a safe musical activity in the ancient past, is an ocarina in five holes, dating back to the tenth millennium BC.

There is one given, though, shared by almost all ancient remains: the music is not the result of human endeavor but it is given to man from Heaven, by the gods. They are thus supernatural beings who reveal to man the great mystery of music.

For the ancient Egyptians, the music was realized through two core values that influence the man; the first was merely the power to create physical sensations, the other acted by means of a force known as the heka, capable of generating a real spell. In ancient Egypt, the priest-magician was also said "the right of voice" because it was his task to attract the spiritual forces through the perfect modulation of chants. It was an esoteric knowledge, jealously guarded and protected. The Egyptian priests had elaborate patterns of melody and harmony, engraved on the tables showed in the temple. These models could not be changed in any way because the laws running them, dated back to a time even then remote.

In ancient China, the sound and music had such a high value that the founder of every dynasty created each time a new kind of music, in order to give his empire the desired appearance. In one of the most important texts, the Li-Ki, the different characters of the music created by various dynasties are quoted. The music was held in such high esteem that the Government reserved the supervision, prescribing the rules through general laws. The fundamental sound, called "Kung", was established by these laws, and the size of the barrel that gave off were engraved on public monuments, and served as a point of reference for all measures applied in the Kingdom. The renowned Kung-Tse (Confucius) believed that music was the discipline that best could act to change and improve people’s habits. The Chu-King, book Canon notch, tells that the Emperor Chim, appointing a Minister who was presiding over the musical science, told him: "I will task you to attend the music teaching: teach it to the young, to ensure that they learn together the moral rectitude and gentleness, subtlety and depth, the goodness and the courage, modesty and scorn for empty entertainment, so that even the less sensitive hearts could be touched. While the man finds the way to communicate with the spirit".

Interestingly, some sections that form the Chinese character standing for the word music can also be found in the character standing for medicine as well as the characters of music and happiness are almost equal.

Long before Pythagoras, the Chinese created the five-tone scale (fa, sol, la, do, re) on which were composed the melodies, by overlapping the fifths,. In ancient Greece, Plato acknowledged in the musical art a powerful influence on forms of Government, and was not afraid to state that musical rules couldn’t be changed unless to make a similar change in the State Constitution. He said then: "a State ruled by good laws will never abandon at the whim of poets and musicians what concerns the foundations of music education; it will indeed rule these things according to the existing practices among the Egyptians, where youth is used to follow what is most perfect, so much in tune as to the extent and in the form of the genre". The historian Polybius, tells how the Cineti, who were not used to grow the art of music, were considered ferocious and Polybius thought they owned a violent nature because of their lack in practising music. Orpheus, son of Apollo, the Greek God of healing and music, was able to heal the body and the soul with the music generated by his lyre with three strings, with poetry and medicine. With his hand, he domesticated beasts, interceded at the gods and even resurrected the beloved Eurydice. Pythagoras, by means of sounds expressed in his musical system, intervened on the mind and body of his followers, creating in them quietness and activating in them also paranormal qualities coming up through prophetic dreams.

It can be assumed a great influence of Pythagoras on Socrates and Plato, who, before being tutored by Babylonian priests about the mysteries of music, arithmetic and other esoteric disciplines, was educated to musical Mysteries in Egypt. When the Greek civilization was in its heyday (age of Pericles, more or less), a new musical genre appeared shattering the ancient classical rules. Music became disharmonious and despite the admonition of wise scholars and traditional musicians, the new system was installed in the social fabric, by shaking its foundation and culminating in a political revolution (404 BC). The ' old ' God Kronos handed up his throne to the young Zeus; not long after, the Greece declined as a world power.

In ancient India, the myth of the Sage Narada, who received the musical scale from Brahma as a means to bring the creation to Him, and to get close the men to the primordial source, teaches us even more on the divine nature of the sounds. In the most ancient Indian texts (Gandarva Veda) are the original principles of this art and the 72 indian ragas (tonalities), have the power and purpose of working on the soul therefore on diseases. OM, the primordial and creator sound, if properly executed, reminds us of the Tibetan overtone singing or Mongolian chant, xoomij. For the Indian, the entire universe comes from the sound and all human activity depends on the sound. In Ethiopia, a legend says that in ancient times the man couldn’t but sing, but afterwards, the human being forgot the melodies and was forced to settle for words.

In the most ancient tradition, the musician was not only physician and astrologer but also priest-magician (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Mesopotamia). Many other examples could be reported, but it seems pretty clear that, in human history, music has played a major role in the structuring of man as civil and social being. We could say that the sound is able to communicate the primal essence in perfect harmony with our souls and with the development of divine values.

In order to communicate the musical language, the man, has made use of sound scales. The sounds deployed in succession (the scals) cover distances called intervals. That is to say the distance that separating two neighboring white keys on the piano is called tone, and a major second interval, the distance between a white key and a black one, always close, is called half-tone, and is a minor second interval. The scales are therefore made up of tones and semitones, which distributed variously, form the manners and tonalities.

The current major way consists of a scale composed of two tones, one semitone, three tones and one more semitone, which, strangely is identical to Indian raga called Dhirashankarabaranam, dating back millennia, composed by the meanings "Shiva, valiant and jewel". This scale is considered to be proactive and creative energy, qualities that can be found in Western civilization, at the expense, though, of sensitivity and intuitiveness. Ways, in antiquity as still nowadays, created the "character" of the music, influencing consequently human ethos.

In ancient times, according to the thought and the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, there were civilization whose musical sensibility was expressed through special ranges: the lemurs quivered at the ninth interval who perceived as "full" as the Atlanteans replied to the seventh one. The people who later came to sound, in the premodal period, and especially in India, about 9000 years ago, with the advent of Rama, were sensitive to the fifth interval. The ancient Greece (Thrace), received the music genre by the Phoenicians. The "lirals" in Phoenician, meant all that is harmonious and consistent, thus indicated the music generally, as well as the music system. The Orphic three-stringed lyra, established the fundamental and forming tune and resulted in the joint system of tetrachords. Four descendants sounds formed the Greek modes: Doric, Phrygian Lydian and Mixolydian. The sensitivity of the Greek was aimed rather at the fourth.

Greek modes have influenced for nearly two millennia the Western musical culture and other habits, developed also in the post Christian age, can be traced back to the Greek Tèleion system.

The musical harmony, as celestial harmony, allowed the Greek to unite to sound, which represented in their order the mobile sky (planets, not stars), the values that the planets were bringing in themselves, and it was precisely this that characterized the sentiments that the scales inspired. The Dorian mode, for example, was under the Dominion of the Sun and revived the character, the Phrygian mode belonged to Mars, therefore it was used to inspire courage in battle and manly strength.

In 139 a.d. comes a figure which will influence his music system for 1500 years: Ptolemy of Alexandria. Mathematician, astronomer, geographer, he was also one of the most brilliant music theorists of all times. We owe him our major scale and pitch policy called "natural intonation". The system lies in getting as close as possible to the fractional relationships concerning the harmonic series, trying to satisfy as much as possible the sensitivity of the ear. In tuning a melody this system allowed also to communicate an incomparable wealthy and expressive intensity.

If the greek scale descended right from God to man, the Gregorian scale, which is dug out from the bottom up, allowed people to come closer to God. St. Ambrose in 397 began to organize the Christian chant and in establishing the scales, he adopted for part of them, the same names as the Greek scales (Dorian, Phrygian, etc.) without however getting the oldest interval series coincide with the new ones. Towards the end of the sixteenth century It fell to Pope Gregory (St. Gregory the great), , the task of restructuring the musica system: he reformed the Ambrosian chants, created the "Schola cantorum" and spread throughout Europe his art. He was a proponent of the music "plana" which was expressed through sounds long and kept (harmonic sing). By his musical he influenced future system buildings of abbeys and cathedrals: it is well known that, in the context of esoteric architecture, the Cathedral of Chartres, in France, in its fundamental structure and its intimate spatial relations, resonates and corresponds to the Gregorian minor mode of re. Only at the end of the 19th century his system is supplanted by the structural innovations conceived by Ubaldo of s. Amando, who created the organum and the descant. This seed will generate a huge plant: polyphony.

With Guido d'Arezzo, at the beginning of the year 1000, the notation of the musical scale become to consolidate and establish. Note names are taken from the hymn of St. John, and by keeping in memory the first note of each verse and his intonation, he was easily able to establish six sounds by short and regular distance from each other, so as to constitute a fixed scale and a secure base (ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si).

In 1517 was born Gioseffo Zarlino, who, through his studies, advocated the intonation temperament (major third down, as you can find in the sequence of harmonics). This type of intonation is antagonistic with the pitagoric one.

In the following times, the polyphony start to grow carrying us to the sensitivity of the third, whose immense master and architect was Johann Sebastian Bach. In the same historical period, temperate system develops, which allows the musician to go from one tonality to another, even distant, without having sounds strongly "untuned" as was the case in the mesotonic system of intonation. This system is applicable to all keyboard instruments, and is a natural landing place for a polyphonic need more and more increasing. This system, which is still current and used for all keyboards, assigns to the black keys two sounds: for example, the do # is equal to the reb.

Although the polyphony will bring the human intellect to a higher level and the tempered system transmitted truths that would be lost, it should be noted that the sensitivity to pure intervals will be gradually polluted, and the consequence will be, over time, the dissolution of the tonality. Over the centuries, the system or mode are changed. New forms are tested until we get to the ' 900, century which saw the disintegration of tonality in favour of a series of 12 sounds that have no more reference with a basic hierarchy sound. It is the time where the dodecaphony is born by Schomberg, that will allow to experiment with new forms of music and sound, and over time, the apparent disintegration of tonalitywill lead (which is already happening) to a rediscover of the tonality in itself even deeper: man cannot get away for too long by the harmony: if he wants to live well he must forcibly understand the Natural and fit in it. In the end all that exists is fair and perfect.