Music is a cultural universal that has been incorporated in the everyday lives of individuals throughout history. Music can be heard on the radio, TV, at concerts and other live performance events, in schools, churches and other places of worship, as well as being used for national anthems or ceremonial occasions. It can also be found in the form of dance or in the written word in poems and songs. The complexities of music make it hard to define, but most people agree that it involves a combination of rhythm, melody and harmony.
Music influences the emotions, has a direct effect on human behavior and can even affect the physical body. The impact of music on humans can be measured by analyzing the results of experiments conducted by psychologists and psychiatrists. However, each person’s perception of music is based on personal experiences, which means that the interpretations of the same sound by different people may be completely different.
Various historical periods in music have brought several distinct sounds and rhythms. The medieval, Renaissance and the classical eras were marked by monophonic and polyphonic sounds as well as experimental sounds and rhythms. The modern era has introduced electronic and technological sounds to music.
Most historians agree that the oldest musical instrument was a simple flute-like pipe made of bamboo. It was found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians and has been dated back to 3,000 BCE. However, some scientists believe that the sounds of music began long before the first instruments were invented. They are convinced that there was an interaction between the brain and the sounds of music, resulting in an emotional response. This relationship is referred to as synesthesia.
The ancient Greeks believed that music reflected the harmonies of the universe and that it had a spiritual significance. Plato (428-348/347 bce) was a stern musical disciplinarian who saw a correspondence between a person’s character and the type of music that he or she listened to. He argued that melodic and rhythmic complexity was dangerous and that it should be simplified. He also thought that a certain musical mode possessed a special quality of truthfulness and purity that was unique to that particular mode.
Other ancient philosophers, such as Democritus, rejected any claim that music was necessary. The development of a psychological understanding of play and other symbolic activities, including the use of music in religious rituals, has weakened the conviction that music is a superfluity.
In more recent times, most theorists have emphasized that music is an auditory phenomenon, and that hearing is the starting point of comprehension. There is also a recognition that the concept of sound as music can be a useful tool for studying psychoacoustics, which concerns the study of the effects of sounds on the human body and mind. Some theorists, such as Benedetto Croce (1866-1952), have argued that music is an intellectual act of intuition. Other theorists, such as Henri Bergson (1859-1941), have rejected this dichotomy of thought and feeling, instead asserting that there are elements common to all forms of music.