The Sound of Music

Music is an art form whose medium is sound organized in time. Common elements of music are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter and articulation), dynamics and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek mousike, ‘(art) of the Muses’.

The creation, performance, significance and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions (and their recreation in performance), through improvisational music to aleatoric forms. Music can be divided into genres and subgenres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to individual interpretation, and occasionally controversial. Within ‘the arts’, music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art, and auditory art.

To people in many cultures, music is inextricably intertwined into their way of life. Greek philosophers and ancient Indians defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies and vertically as harmonies. Common sayings such as “the harmony of the spheres” and “it is music to my ears” point to the notion that music is often ordered and pleasant to listen to.

The development of music among humans must have taken place against the backdrop of natural sounds such as birdsongs and the sounds other animals use to communicate.

India has one of the oldest musical traditions in the world – references to Indian classical music (marga) can be found in the ancient scriptures of the Hindu tradition, the Vedas. The traditional music of China has a history stretching for around three thousand years. Music was an important part of cultural and social life in Ancient Greece: mixed-gender choruses performed for entertainment, celebration and spiritual ceremonies; musicians and singers had a prominent role in ancient Greek theater in the 9th century.

Indian classical music is one of the oldest musical traditions in the world. The Indus Valley civilization has sculptures which show dance and old musical instruments, like the seven holed flute. Various types of stringed instruments and drums have been recovered from Harrappa and Mohenjo Daro by excavations carried out by Sir Mortimer Wheeler. The Rigveda has elements of present Indian music, with a musical notation to denote the metre and the mode of chanting. Indian classical music (marga) is monophonic and based around a single melody line or raga rhythmically organized through talas. Carnatic music is largely devotional; a majority of the songs are addressed to the Hindu deities. There are a lot of songs emphasizing love and other social issues as well. Hindustani music was also influenced by the Persian performance practices of the Afghan Mughals.

Kritika Malhotra

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