The "Genre" of Music
The Seikilos Epitaph is considered the oldest surviving example of a musical composition in the world. It was written in ancient Greek musical notation. It sounds like chanting and whistling. It’s pretty creepy sounding. Africa is widely considered by the scientific community to be the birth place of civilization (prior to humanity dispersing around the world) and its logical to conclude music was invented there. Music scholars call this “prehistoric music”. The African drums, chanting, and melody lines are still played and sung in some tribes today – music’s longevity can be absolutely amazing! On another continent, Chinese classical music is referred to as “court music”. Its history stretches over 3.000 years! It has its own unique systems of musical notation.
Music has changed a lot over those thousands of years and has been refined in to specific groups (depending on the type of sound) called “genres”. The dictionary defines the word genre as... Genre – noun – a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.
We could go way back and get pretty descriptive about musical genres, but for the purposes of this blog we’ll start with American music in the 1800’s to give respect where respect is due. I’m not a historian, but I do know about genres and what decades had/has the most popular ones. After extensive research over the years on what music came from where (the 1800’s on) the genres seem to have had quite a journey of growth. Opera and classical was very popular before the 1800’s due to European influence. So, people gravitated to the blues when the blues genre started in the late 1800’s in the United States (some say much earlier – I tend to agree). It started with roots in spiritual “work songs” (slave songs in the plantation fields). “Jazz” was born out of blues and “swing” music (the 1930’s “flapper” era) was born out jazz. It’s hard to pinpoint when all of this happened because historians were not paying close enough attention and keeping detailed records. It evolved naturally. That’s the coolest thing about music to me. It’s emotional ebb and flow has happen in the past, happens today in the present, and will happen tomorrow and in the future. Music is alive and will always be changing!