Music and dance

Classical music

The conductor of an orchestraThe conductor of an orchestra Music is the organization of sounds and silences to produce a work that is designed to give pleasure to the listener. Music can be written down in advance or improvised (made up on the spot) but it is always intended to be performed. Classical music is the serious, written music of western countries. Music can be performed by one person, a group or a whole orchestra. It can be sung by the human voice and played with an instrument. Music can be listened to in its own right or heard as part of the soundtrack to a play, movie or a radio or TV programme.



How Stone Age people made a simple fluteHow Stone Age people made a simple flute

Origins

We know little about the origins of music, as none of it was recorded or written down. We do not know who first started to sing a song or make up a tune. The earliest instruments, flutes made of wood, bone or ivory, date back 40,000 years or more.



An aulos, as depicted on an ancient Greek cupAn aulos, as depicted on an ancient Greek cupAncient instruments have been found in China dating back to 7000 BC, in the Indus Valley of Pakistan and India, and in the Middle East and Egypt, where the god Thoth was said to have invented music. The oldest known songs were written on clay tablets in the Syrian city of Ugarit around 1400 BC. Music was popular in ancient Greece, where musicians plucked a stringed lyre and blew a double reed pipe called an aulos.

Flutes, made from bird bone and mammoth ivory, were discovered in a cave in southern Germany in 2012. Dated at around 43,000 years old, they are the oldest musical instruments known.

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