The History of Music

Music is a universal part of every society throughout history. Due to this far reaching spread it is believed by some that music was developed before our ancient ancestors left Africa. The word ‘music’ itself is derived from Greek mousikē tekhnē (art of the muses). The muses were Greek goddesses associated with inspiration within literature, science and the arts.

Music is affected by the culture surrounding it and continues to evolve and change. As a result we have a wide variety of styles across the world from Tuvan throat singing to drum and bass.
As music evolves with the surrounding culture, it can be a time capsule that captures a period of time within a culture. Music is often influenced by the events and beliefs of the time frame it was created. One way to see this in action is to compare contemporary British music from the 70s to the 00s.

History of Instruments

A musical instrument is defined as an object created to produce musical sounds. The oldest musical instrument found was a 60,000 year old Neanderthal flute carved from a cave bear thigh bone. The flute was found  in Divje babe cave near Cerkno in Slovenia. The flute is about 11.4 cm long and part of a permanent exhibition at National Museum of Slovenia. Most historians believe flutes like this one were among the first instruments created.

History of the Guitar

The guitar is a type of chordophone instrument, these types of instruments create sound via vibrating strings. The exact origin of the guitar itself is generally unknown although there are several hypothesis. One belief is that it originates from the Greek kithara (the lyre is descended from this instrument). The kithara was a string instrument the god Apollo was often depicted using, although according to myth the first kithara was created by the god Hermes using a turtle shell.

The more likely origin story is that the guitar is a descendant of the lute. This ancient string instrument was used by the Hittites, Elamites, Assyrians, Mari, Babylonians and Hurrians around 2330-2000 B.C.. It eventually passed onto the Egyptians by 1500 B.C. who in turn passed it onto the Greeks around 320 B.C. The lute eventually spread north into Europe and east into Asia. Art from these time periods depicting people playing the instrument, along with writing and surviving instruments are how historians trace the spread of the instrument. Today across the world there are a variety of string instruments descended from the lute.

In Europe the lute was developed into two variations, one where the strings were plucked and one where a bow was used (like a violin). These variations eventually developed into instruments such as the fiddle, viola, vielle, citole, guitarra/guiterne and mandola/mandore. During the seventeenth century a five course gut string variation known as the baroque guitar became fashionable thanks to Italian actors working in Paris. This instrument replaced the renaissance lute as the most commonly found instrument within homes in Europe.

During the second half of the eighteenth century the doubled strings of the baroque guitar became single strings and by the end of the century six string guitars were fashionable. During the nineteenth century Antonio de Torres Jurado created the modern classical guitar.