History of Music

Music has evolved dramatically over the years. One of the simplest ways to learn about the history of music is to look into the six periods that define it. The Medieval Era is the longest and most complex period in the history of music. It lasted from the year 800 to 1400. Music during this time focused around the church and was referred to as sacred. In the earliest part of this era most music was monophonic, meaning that it had one melodic line without accompaniment. However, by the 1200’s polyphony became popular. This is two or more melodic lines heard at the same time.

Next was the Renaissance Period, which lasted from 1400 to 1600. During this time in the history of music artists were given more freedom of expression and individuality. At this time secular music, that is music that did not center on the church, was introduced. Many new instruments were introduced in this era as well.

The next period in the history of music is the baroque era, which lasted from 1600 to 1750. The music during this time was more intense and extravagant.  There was focus on the volume and texture of music. This period also created both the opera and orchestra.

Native American Stone Flute

Native American Stone Flute

The Classical Era is the next period in music history, lasting from 1750 to 1820. During this time much of the focus shifted from operas to orchestras. Music was dominated by the homophonic style, which featured one melodic line with accompaniment.

The Romantic Era was next and lasted from 1850 to 1920. This time in music history gave musicians more creative freedoms to be expressive. They began to make changes to the tonal relationships and length of their pieces.

Richard Strauss Music Composer

Richard Strauss - Late Romantic/Early Modern Music Composer

Lastly, is the Modern Era which began in 1900 and is carried through to present day. This period has been overwhelmed by diversity, making it hard to pinpoint an exact style. During this time technology began to play a big part in music. Computers began to integrate electronically created sounds into music.