From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music" -- Walter Pater
"As far as biological cause and effect are concerned, music is useless. It shows no signs of design for attaining a goal such as long life, grandchildren, or the accurate perception and prediction of the world." --How the Mind Works (1997) by Steven Pinker
"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture[...]."
"The Nurse with Wound list (1979) and 100 Records that Set the World on Fire (While No One Was Listening) (1998) are the best guide to 'cult music' (as analogous to cult fiction and cult films)."--Sholem Stein
"Everyone will tell you that I am not a musician. That is correct. From the very beginning of my career I classed myself as a phonometrographer. My work is completely phonometrical."--Memoirs of an Amnesiac (1912) by Eric Satie
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements 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 μουσική (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. It may also be divided among art music and folk music. There is also a strong connection between music and mathematics. Music may be played and heard live, may be part of a dramatic work or film, or may be recorded.
To many people in many cultures, music is an important part of their way of life. Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers 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. However, 20th-century composer John Cage thought that any sound can be music, saying, for example, "There is no noise, only sound."
Much of the focus of this site lies on genres such as disco (99 Records, August Darnell, Larry Levan, Patrick Adams and Arthur Russell), house (proto-house), funk (P-Funk) and techno (Detroit techno) on the one hand and dub and reggae (King Tubby, Bob Marley, Lee Perry, Studio One) on the other.
Music is found in every known culture, past and present, varying wildly between times and places. Scientists now believe that modern humans emerged from Africa 160,000 years ago. Around 50,000 years ago these humans began to disperse from Africa reaching all the habitable continents. Since all peoples of the world including the most isolated tribal groups, have a form of music, scientists conclude that music must have been present in the ancestral population prior to the dispersal of humans around the world. Consequently music must have been in existence for at least 50,000 years and the first music must have been invented in Africa and then evolved to become a fundamental constituent of human life.
A culture's music is influenced by all other aspects of that culture, including social and economic organization, climate, and access to technology. The emotions and ideas that music expresses, the situations in which music is played and listened to, and the attitudes toward music players and composers all vary between regions and periods. "Music history" is the distinct subfield of musicology and history which studies music (particularly western art music) from a chronological perspective.
19th century music
In the later decades of the 19th century, the music industry became dominated by a group of publishers and song-writers in New York City that came to be known as Tin Pan Alley. Tin Pan Alley's representatives spread throughout the country, buying local hits for their publishers and pushing their publisher's latest songs. Song demonstrators were fixtures at department stores and music stores across the country, and traveling song demonstrators made circuits of rural areas. The industry was driven by the profits from the sales of sheet music. A piano was considered a must in any middle-class or higher home. Major 19th century Tin Pan Alley hits included "Only a Bird in a Guilded Cage" and "After the Ball Is Over".
20th century music
The 20th Century saw a revolution in music listening as the radio gained popularity worldwide and new media and technologies were developed to record, capture, reproduce and distribute music. Because music was no longer limited to concerts and clubs, it became possible for music artists to quickly gain fame nationwide and sometimes worldwide. Conversely, audiences were able to be exposed to a wider range of music than ever before. Music performances became increasingly visual with the broadcast and recording of music videos and concerts. Music of all kinds also became increasingly portable. Headphones allowed people sitting next to each other to listen to entirely different performances or share the same performance.
20th Century music brought a new freedom and wide experimentation with new musical styles and forms that challenged the accepted rules of music of earlier periods. The invention of musical amplification and electronic instruments, especially the synthesizer, in the mid-20th century revolutionized popular music and accelerated the development of new forms of music.
Composers and musicians
A musician is a person who plays or writes music. Musicians can be classified by their roles in creating or performing music:
- An instrumentalist plays a musical instrument.
- A singer (or vocalist) uses his/her voice as her instrument.
- Composers, arrangers and songwriters memorize and orally teach, or record their compositions in the form of traditional notation or audio recording.
- A conductor leads a musical ensemble. A conductor can simultaneously act as an instrumentalist in the ensemble.
Musicians can be amateur or professional. The meaning of these terms is, however, somewhat diffuse. Musicians have varying levels of activity and ambition in music, which often makes music both a hobby and a profession. Many professional musicians define the core of their musicianship as a state of "being married" to music, which suggests an active and progressive relationship even and especially after finishing formal education.
A professional musician is, however, usually defined as one who is paid to perform, compose or act in any other productive manner related to music, and whose main source of income is this activity. Professional musicians may work freelance, enter into a contract with a studio or record label, be employed by a professional ensemble such as a symphony orchestra or big band, or by an institution such as a church or business (such as a jazz club or a bar). A musician who earns money by selling sound recordings is called a recording artist.
The concept and the status of the musician in society varies widely, depending on sociological, cultural, and economic factors.
- Cultural appropriation in western music
- History of dance music
- History of disco
- Experimental music
- European music
- Proto- (music qualifier)
- Railway music
- Étude aux chemins de fer
- Burundi beat
- Towards a Balearic playlist
- The most famous giggles in late 20th century dance music
- Heavy breathing in music
- World music classics
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- Ocean of Sound by David Toop
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