Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ), (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of and (which are sometimes termed the "color" of a musical sound). Different of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of and vocal techniques ranging from to ; there are solely , (such as songs without instrumental ) and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from (''mousiké''; "(art) of the "). In its most general form, the activities describing music as an art form or activity include the creation of works of music (s, tunes, , and so on), the , the , and the . and defined music in two parts: melodies, as tones ordered horizontally, and harmonies as tones ordered vertically. Common sayings such as "the " 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 thought that any sound can be music, saying, for example, "There is no , only sound." The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Indeed, throughout history, some new forms or styles of music have been criticized as "not being music", including 's ' in 1825, early in the beginning of the 1900s and in the 1980s. There are many types of music, including , , , , and s such as s. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions—such as Classical music symphonies from the 1700s and 1800s—through to spontaneously played such as , and styles of from the 20th and 21st centuries. Music can be divided into (e.g., ) and genres can be further divided into s (e.g., and are two of the many country subgenres), although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to personal interpretation, and occasionally controversial. For example, it can be hard to draw the line between some early 1980s and . Within , music may be classified as a , a fine art, or as an auditory art. Music may be played or sung and heard live at a or orchestra performance, heard live as part of a (a show or opera), or it may be recorded and listened to on a radio, MP3 player, , or as or TV show. In many cultures, music is an important part of people's way of life, as it plays a key role in s, ceremonies (e.g., graduation and marriage), social activities (e.g., ) and cultural activities ranging from amateur singing to playing in an amateur or singing in a community . People may make music as a hobby, like a teen playing cello in a , or work as a professional musician or singer. The includes the individuals who create new songs and musical pieces (such as songwriters and composers), individuals who perform music (which include orchestra, band and rock band musicians, singers and conductors), individuals who record music (music producers and s), individuals who organize concert tours, and individuals who sell recordings, , and scores to customers. Even once a song or piece has been performed, , , and may assess and evaluate the piece and its performance.


The word '' is derived from () '(art) of the '. In , the nine Muses were the goddesses who inspired literature, science, and and who were the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, song-lyrics, and myths in the Greek culture. According to the ', the term ''music'' is derived from "mid-13c., , from (12c.) and directly from 'the art of music', also including poetry (also source of Spanish , Italian , , German , Dutch , Danish )." This is derived from the "...Greek (''techne'') '(art) of the Muses,' from fem. of 'pertaining to the Muses', from 'Muse' (see muse (n.)). Modern spelling from 1630s. In , he term 'music' refers toany art in which the Muses presided, but especially music and ."

Art and entertainment

Music is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace. When music was only available through scores, such as during the Classical and Romantic eras, music lovers would buy the of their favourite pieces and songs so that they could perform them at home on the piano. With the advent of the , records of popular songs, rather than sheet music became the dominant way that music lovers would enjoy their favourite songs. With the advent of home s in the 1980s and in the 1990s, music lovers could make tapes or s of their favourite songs and take them with them on a or MP3 player. Some music lovers create s of their favourite songs, which serve as a "self-portrait, a gesture of friendship, prescription for an ideal party... an environment consisting solely of what is most ardently loved". Amateur musicians can compose or perform music for their own pleasure, and derive their income elsewhere. s are employed by a range of institutions and organisations, including armed forces (in s, s and popular music groups), churches and synagogues, symphony orchestras, broadcasting or companies, and s. Professional musicians sometimes work as freelancers or s, seeking contracts and engagements in a variety of settings. There are often many links between amateur and professional musicians. Beginning amateur musicians take with professional musicians. In community settings, advanced amateur musicians perform with professional musicians in a variety of ensembles such as community s and community orchestras. A distinction is often made between music performed for a live audience and music that is performed in a studio so that it can be recorded and distributed through the music retail system or the broadcasting system. However, there are also many cases where a live performance in front of an audience is also recorded and distributed. Live concert recordings are popular in both classical music and in forms such as rock, where are prized by music lovers. In the scene, live, improvised s are preferred to studio recordings.


"Composition" is the act or practice of creating a song, an piece, a work with both singing and instruments, or another type of music. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing also includes the creation of , such as a , which is then performed by the composer or by other singers or musicians. In popular music and traditional music, the act of composing, which is typically called songwriting, may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the , which sets out the , and . In classical music, the composer typically his or her own compositions, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a songwriter may not use notation at all, and instead, compose the song in her mind and then play or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written scores play in classical music. Even when music is notated relatively precisely, as in classical music, there are many decisions that a performer has to make, because notation does not specify all of the elements of music precisely. The process of deciding how to perform music that has been previously composed and notated is termed "interpretation". Different performers' interpretations of the same work of music can vary widely, in terms of the tempos that are chosen and the playing or singing style or of the melodies. Composers and songwriters who present their own music are interpreting their songs, just as much as those who perform the music of others. The standard body of choices and techniques present at a given time and a given place is referred to as , whereas interpretation is generally used to mean the individual choices of a performer. Although a musical composition often uses and has a single author, this is not always the case. A work of music can have multiple composers, which often occurs in when a band collaborates to write a song, or in musical theatre, when one person writes the melodies, a second person writes the lyrics, and a third person orchestrates the songs. In some styles of music, such as the , a composer/songwriter may create, perform and record new songs or pieces without ever writing them down in music notation. A piece of music can also be composed with words, images, or computer programs that explain or notate how the singer or musician should create musical sounds. Examples range from avant-garde music that uses , to text compositions such as ', to computer programs that select sounds for musical pieces. Music that makes heavy use of randomness and chance is called , and is associated with contemporary composers active in the 20th century, such as , , and . A more commonly known example of chance-based music is the sound of jingling in a breeze. The study of composition has traditionally been dominated by examination of methods and practice of Western classical music, but the definition of composition is broad enough to include the creation of and songs and instrumental pieces as well as spontaneously works like those of performers and African percussionists such as .


In the 2000s, music notation typically means the written expression of music notes and rhythms on paper using symbols. When music is written down, the pitches and rhythm of the music, such as the notes of a , are notated. Music notation also often provides instructions on how to perform the music. For example, the sheet music for a song may state that the song is a "slow blues" or a "fast swing", which indicates the tempo and the genre. To read music notation, a person must have an understanding of , and the associated with a particular song or piece's genre. Written notation varies with the style and period of music. In the 2000s, notated music is produced as or, for individuals with computer programs, as an image on a . In ancient times, music notation was put onto stone or clay tablets. To perform music from notation, a singer or instrumentalist requires an understanding of the rhythmic and pitch elements embodied in the symbols and the performance practice that is associated with a piece of music or a genre. In genres requiring , the performer often plays from music where only the and form of the song are written, requiring the performer to have a great understanding of the music's structure, harmony and the styles of a particular genre (e.g., or ). In Western art music, the most common types of written notation are scores, which include all the music parts of an ensemble piece, and parts, which are the music notation for the individual performers or singers. In popular music, jazz, and blues, the standard musical notation is the , which notates the melody, chords, (if it is a vocal piece), and structure of the music. s are also used in jazz; they may consist of lead sheets or simply chord charts, which permit members to improvise an part to jazz songs. Scores and parts are also used in popular music and jazz, particularly in large ensembles such as jazz "s." In popular music, guitarists and electric bass players often read music notated in (often abbreviated as "tab"), which indicates the location of the notes to be played on the instrument using a diagram of the guitar or bass fingerboard. Tablature was also used in the Baroque era to notate music for the , a stringed, fretted instrument.


is the creation of spontaneous music, often within (or based on) a pre-existing harmonic framework or . Improvisers use the notes of the chord, various scales that are associated with each chord, and chromatic ornaments and passing tones which may be neither chord tones nor from the typical scales associated with a chord. Musical improvisation can be done with or without preparation. Improvisation is a major part of some types of music, such as , , and , in which instrumental performers improvise solos, melody lines, and accompaniment parts. In the Western art music tradition, improvisation was an important skill during the Baroque era and during the Classical era. In the Baroque era, performers improvised ornaments, and keyboard players improvised s based on notation. As well, the top soloists were expected to be able to improvise pieces such as s. In the Classical era, solo performers and singers improvised virtuoso s during concerts. However, in the 20th and early 21st century, as "common practice" Western performance became institutionalized in symphony orchestras, opera houses, and ballets, improvisation has played a smaller role, as more and more music was notated in scores and parts for musicians to play. At the same time, some 20th and 21st century composers have increasingly included improvisation in their creative work. In , improvisation is a core component and an essential criterion of performances.


Music theory encompasses the nature and mechanics of music. It often involves identifying patterns that govern composers' techniques and examining the and of music. In a grand sense, music theory distills and analyzes the or elements of music – rhythm, (), , structure, , and . Broadly, music theory may include any statement, belief, or conception of or about music. People who study these properties are known as music theorists, and they typically work as professors in colleges, universities, and music conservatories. Some have applied , , and to the explanation of how and why music is d. Music theorists publish their research in music theory journals and university press books.


Music has many different fundamentals or elements. Depending on the definition of "element" being used, these can include pitch, beat or pulse, tempo, rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, style, allocation of voices, timbre or color, dynamics, expression, articulation, form, and structure. The elements of music feature prominently in the music curriculums of Australia, the UK, and the US. All three curriculums identify pitch, dynamics, timbre, and texture as elements, but the other identified elements of music are far from universally agreed upon. Below is a list of the three official versions of the "elements of music": * Australia: pitch, timbre, texture, dynamics and expression, rhythm, form and structure. * UK: pitch, timbre, texture, dynamics, duration, tempo, structure. * USA: pitch, timbre, texture, dynamics, rhythm, form, harmony, style/articulation. In relation to the UK curriculum, in 2013 the term: "appropriate s" was added to their list of elements and the title of the list was changed from the "elements of music" to the "inter-related dimensions of music". The inter-related dimensions of music are listed as: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure, and appropriate musical notations. The phrase "the elements of music" is used in a number of different contexts. The two most common contexts can be differentiated by describing them as the "rudimentary elements of music" and the "perceptual elements of music".


In the 1800s, the phrases "the elements of music" and "the rudiments of music" were used interchangeably. The elements described in these documents refer to aspects of music that are needed in order to become a musician, Recent writers such as Espie Estrella seem to be using the phrase "elements of music" in a similar manner. A definition which most accurately reflects this usage is: "the rudimentary principles of an art, science, etc.: the elements of grammar." The UK's curriculum switch to the "inter-related dimensions of music" seems to be a move back to using the rudimentary elements of music.


Since the emergence of the study of in the 1930s, most lists of elements of music have related more to how we ''hear'' music than how we learn to play it or study it. C.E. Seashore, in his book ''Psychology of Music'', identified four "psychological attributes of sound". These were: "pitch, loudness, time, and timbre" (p. 3). He did not call them the "elements of music" but referred to them as "elemental components" (p. 2). Nonetheless, these elemental components link precisely with four of the most common musical elements: "Pitch" and "timbre" match exactly, "loudness" links with dynamics, and "time" links with the time-based elements of rhythm, duration, and tempo. This usage of the phrase "the elements of music" links more closely with ''Webster's New 20th Century Dictionary'' definition of an element as: "a substance which cannot be divided into a simpler form by known methods" and educational institutions' lists of elements generally align with this definition as well. Although writers of lists of "rudimentary elements of music" can vary their lists depending on their personal (or institutional) priorities, the perceptual elements of music should consist of an established (or proven) list of discrete elements which can be independently manipulated to achieve an intended musical effect. It seems at this stage that there is still research to be done in this area. A slightly different way of approaching the identification of the elements of music, is to identify the "elements of " as: , , , , and ,Burton, R.L. (2015)
The elements of music: what are they, and who cares?
In J. Rosevear & S. Harding. (Eds.), ASME XXth National Conference proceedings. Paper presented at: Music: Educating for life: ASME XXth National Conference (pp. 22–28), Parkville, Victoria: The Australian Society for Music Education Inc.
and then to define the "elements of music" as: sound, structure, and artistic intent.


Pitch and melody

is an aspect of a sound that we can hear, reflecting whether one musical sound, note, or tone is "higher" or "lower" than another musical sound, note, or tone. We can talk about the highness or lowness of pitch in the more general sense, such as the way a listener hears a piercingly high note or tone as higher in pitch than a deep thump of a . We also talk about pitch in the precise sense associated with musical , s and . Precise pitch can only be determined in sounds that have a frequency that is clear and stable enough to distinguish from noise. For example, it is much easier for listeners to discern the pitch of a single note played on a piano than to try to discern the pitch of a that is struck. A (also called a "tune") is a series of pitches (notes) sounding in succession (one after the other), often in a rising and falling pattern. The notes of a melody are typically created using pitch systems such as or . Melodies also often contain notes from the chords used in the song. The melodies in simple folk songs and traditional songs may use only the notes of a single scale, the scale associated with the tonic note or of a given song. For example, a folk song in the key of C (also referred to as C major) may have a melody that uses only the notes of the C major scale (the individual notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C; these are the "" on a piano keyboard. On the other hand, -era jazz from the 1940s and from the 20th and 21st centuries may use melodies with many s (i.e., notes in addition to the notes of the major scale; on a piano, a chromatic scale would include all the notes on the keyboard, including the "white notes" and "black notes" and unusual scales, such as the (a whole tone scale in the key of C would contain the notes C, D, E, F, G and A). A low, deep musical line played by bass instruments such as double bass, electric bass, or is called a .

Harmony and chords

refers to the "vertical" sounds of pitches in music, which means pitches that are played or sung together at the same time to create a . Usually, this means the notes are played at the same time, although harmony may also be implied by a melody that outlines a harmonic structure (i.e., by using melody notes that are played one after the other, outlining the notes of a chord). In music written using the system of major-minor ("keys"), which includes most classical music written from 1600 to 1900 and most Western pop, rock, and traditional music, the key of a piece determines the scale used, which centres around the "home note" or of the key. Simple classical pieces and many pop and traditional music songs are written so that all the music is in a single key. More complex Classical, pop, and traditional music songs and pieces may have two keys (and in some cases three or more keys). Classical music from the Romantic era (written from about 1820–1900) often contains multiple keys, as does , especially jazz from the 1940s, in which the key or "home note" of a song may change every four bars or even every two bars.


Rhythm is the arrangement of sounds and silences in time. animates time in regular pulse groupings, called , which in Western classical, popular, and traditional music often group notes in sets of two (e.g., 2/4 time), three (e.g., 3/4 time, also known as time, or 3/8 time), or four (e.g., 4/4 time). Meters are made easier to hear because songs and pieces often (but not always) place an emphasis on the first beat of each grouping. Notable exceptions exist, such as the used in much Western pop and rock, in which a song that uses a measure that consists of four beats (called 4/4 time or ) will have accents on beats two and four, which are typically performed by the drummer on the , a loud and distinctive-sounding percussion instrument. In pop and rock, the rhythm parts of a song are played by the , which includes chord-playing instruments (e.g., electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, or other keyboard instruments), a bass instrument (typically electric bass or for some styles such as and , double bass) and a drum kit player.


is the overall sound of a piece of music or song. The texture of a piece or song is determined by how the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition, thus determining the overall nature of the sound in a piece. Texture is often described in regard to the density, or thickness, and range, or width, between lowest and highest pitches, in relative terms as well as more specifically distinguished according to the number of voices, or parts, and the relationship between these voices (see common types below). For example, a thick texture contains many 'layers' of instruments. One of these layers could be a string section or another brass. The thickness also is affected by the amount and the richness of the instruments. Texture is commonly described according to the number of and relationship between or lines of music: * : a single (or "tune") with neither instrumental nor a . A mother singing a to her baby would be an example. * : two or more instruments or singers playing/singing the same melody, but with each performer slightly varying the rhythm or speed of the melody or adding different to the melody. Two s playing the same fiddle tune together will typically each vary the melody by some degree and each add different ornaments. * : multiple independent melody lines that interweave together, which are sung or played at the same time. music written in the era was typically written in this style. A , which is a song such as "", which different groups of singers all start to sing at a different time, is an example of polyphony. * : a clear melody supported by . Most Western songs from the 19th century onward are written in this texture. Music that contains a large number of independent (e.g., a double concerto accompanied by 100 orchestral instruments with many interweaving melodic lines) is generally said to have a "thicker" or "denser" texture than a work with few parts (e.g., a solo melody accompanied by a single cello).

Timbre or "tone color"

, sometimes called "color" or "tone color" is the quality or sound of a voice or instrument. Timbre is what makes a particular musical sound different from another, even when they have the same pitch and loudness. For example, a 440 Hz A note sounds different when it is played on , piano, violin, or electric guitar. Even if different players of the same instrument play the same note, their notes might sound different due to differences in instrumental technique (e.g., different s), different types of accessories (e.g., mouthpieces for brass players, reeds for oboe and bassoon players) or strings made out of different materials for string players (e.g., s versus ). Even two instrumentalists playing the same note on the same instrument (one after the other) may sound different due to different ways of playing the instrument (e.g., two string players might hold the bow differently). The physical characteristics of sound that determine the perception of timbre include the , , and s of a note or musical sound. For instruments developed in the 20th century, such as electric guitar, electric bass and , the performer can also change the tone by adjusting , tone controls on the instrument, and by using such as pedals. The tone of the electric is controlled by adjusting .


Expressive qualities are those elements in music that create change in music without changing the main pitches or substantially changing the rhythms of the melody and its accompaniment. Performers, including singers and instrumentalists, can add musical expression to a song or piece by adding , by adding effects such as (with voice and some instruments, such as guitar, violin, brass instruments, and woodwinds), dynamics (the loudness or softness of piece or a section of it), tempo fluctuations (e.g., or , which are, respectively slowing down and speeding up the tempo), by adding pauses or s on a , and by changing the articulation of the notes (e.g., making notes more pronounced or accented, by making notes more , which means smoothly connected, or by making notes shorter). Expression is achieved through the manipulation of pitch (such as inflection, vibrato, slides etc.), volume (dynamics, accent, tremolo etc.), duration (tempo fluctuations, rhythmic changes, changing note duration such as with legato and staccato, etc.), timbre (e.g. changing vocal timbre from a light to a resonant voice) and sometimes even texture (e.g. doubling the bass note for a richer effect in a piano piece). Expression therefore can be seen as a manipulation of all elements in order to convey "an indication of mood, spirit, character etc." and as such cannot be included as a unique perceptual element of music, although it can be considered an important rudimentary element of music.


In music, describes the overall structure or plan of a song or piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections. In the early 20th century, songs and songs were often in , in which the A sections repeated the same eight bar melody (with variation) and the B section provided a contrasting melody or harmony for eight bars. From the 1960s onward, Western pop and rock songs are often in , which is based around a sequence of and ("refrain") sections, with new for most verses and repeating lyrics for the choruses. Popular music often makes use of , sometimes in conjunction with the . In the tenth edition of ', defines musical form as "a series of strategies designed to find a successful mean between the opposite extremes of unrelieved repetition and unrelieved alteration." Examples of common forms of Western music include the , the , , , , , and . Scholes states that European classical music had only six stand-alone forms: simple binary, simple ternary, compound binary, rondo, air with variations, and (although musicologist emphasized that the fugue is primarily a method of composition that has sometimes taken on certain structural conventions.) Where a piece cannot readily be broken down into sectional units (though it might borrow some form from a poem, story or ), it is said to be . Such is often the case with a , , , (or study), , , , etc. Professor Charles Keil classified forms and formal detail as "sectional, developmental, or variational."

Analysis of styles

Some styles of music place an emphasis on certain of these fundamentals, while others place less emphasis on certain elements. To give one example, while -era makes use of very complex chords, including s and challenging s, with chords changing two or more times per bar and keys changing several times in a tune, places most of its emphasis on rhythm and , with entire songs based around a on a single chord. While Romantic era classical music from the mid- to late-1800s makes great use of dramatic changes of dynamics, from whispering pianissimo sections to thunderous fortissimo sections, some entire Baroque dance suites for from the early 1700s may use a single dynamic. To give another example, while some pieces, such as are very long, some pop songs are just a few minutes long.



can only be theorized based on findings from archaeology sites. are often discovered, carved from bones in which lateral holes have been pierced; these are thought to have been blown at one end like the Japanese . The , carved from a , is thought to be at least 40,000 years old, though there is considerable debate surrounding whether it is truly a musical instrument or an object formed by animals. Instruments such as the seven-holed flute and various types of , such as the , have been recovered from the sites. India has one of the oldest musical traditions in the world—references to (''marga'') are found in the , ancient scriptures of the tradition. The earliest and largest collection of prehistoric musical instruments was found in China and dates back to between 7000 and 6600 BC. The "", found on s that date back to approximately 1400 BC, is the oldest surviving notated work of music.

Ancient Egypt

The earliest material and representational evidence of Egyptian musical instruments dates to the , but the evidence is more securely attested in the when s, s and s were played. Percussion instruments, s and s were added to orchestras by the . s frequently accompanied music and dance, much as they still do in today. Egyptian , including the traditional rituals, are the closest contemporary to ian music, having preserved many of its features, rhythms and instruments.

Asian cultures

covers a vast swath of music cultures surveyed in the articles on , , , , and . Several have traditions reaching into antiquity. is one of the oldest musical traditions in the world. The has sculptures that show dance and old musical instruments, like the seven holed flute. Various types of stringed instruments and drums have been recovered from and by excavations carried out by Sir . The has elements of present Indian music, with a musical notation to denote the metre and the mode of chanting. Indian classical music (marga) is monophonic, and based on a single melody line or rhythmically organized through . ' by provides information about how new scales can be formed by modal shifting of the tonic from an existing scale. Present day was influenced by and Mughals. , popular in the southern states, is largely devotional; the majority of the songs are addressed to the Hindu deities. There are also many songs emphasising love and other social issues. , the traditional art or court music of China, has a history stretching over around three thousand years. It has its own unique systems of musical notation, as well as musical tuning and pitch, musical instruments and styles or musical genres. Chinese music is pentatonic-diatonic, having a scale of twelve notes to an octave (5 + 7 = 12) as does European-influenced music.

Ancient Greece

Music was an important part of social and cultural life in , in fact it was one of the main subjects taught to children. Musical education was considered to be important for the development of an individual's soul. Musicians and singers played a prominent role in Savage, Roger
"Incidental music"
Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, accessed 13 August 2012
and the ones who received a musical education were seen as nobles and in perfect harmony (as we can read in the ) Mixed-gender performed for entertainment, celebration, and spiritual ceremonies. Holy Ancient Greek music will be considered an example of perfection and purity. Instruments included the double-reed ' and a plucked , the ', principally the special kind called a '. was an important part of education, and boys were taught music starting at age six. Greek musical literacy created a flowering of music development. Greek included the Greek s, that eventually became the basis for Western and music. Later, influences from the , Eastern Europe, and the changed Greek music. The is the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world. The oldest surviving work written on the subject of music theory is ' by .

Western classical

Middle Ages

The era (476 to 1400), which took place during the , started with the introduction of (single melodic line) into services. was used since Ancient times in , but in the Middle Ages, notation was first introduced by the so that the chant melodies could be written down, to facilitate the use of the same melodies for religious music across the entire Catholic empire. The only European Medieval repertory that has been found in written form from before 800 is the chant of the Roman Catholic Church, the central tradition of which was called . Alongside these traditions of and there existed a vibrant tradition of (non-religious songs). Examples of composers from this period are , , , and .


(c. 1400 to 1600) was more focused on secular (non-religious) themes, such as . Around 1450, the was invented, which made printed much less expensive and easier to mass-produce (prior to the invention of the printing press, all notated music was hand-copied). The increased availability of sheet music helped to spread musical styles more quickly and across a larger area. Musicians and singers often worked for the church, courts and towns. Church choirs grew in size, and the church remained an important patron of music. By the middle of the 15th century, composers wrote richly polyphonic sacred music, in which different melody lines were interwoven simultaneously. Prominent composers from this era include , , , and . As musical activity shifted from the church to the aristocratic courts, kings, queens and princes competed for the finest composers. Many leading important composers came from the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France. They are called the Franco-Flemish composers. They held important positions throughout Europe, especially in Italy. Other countries with vibrant musical activity included Germany, England, and Spain.


The took place from 1600 to 1750, as the flourished across Europe; and during this time, music expanded in its range and complexity. Baroque music began when the first operas (dramatic solo vocal music accompanied by orchestra) were written. During the Baroque era, music, in which multiple, simultaneous independent melody lines were used, remained important (counterpoint was important in the vocal music of the Medieval era). German Baroque composers wrote for small including , , and , as well as for s and keyboard instruments such as , , and . During this period several major music forms were defined that lasted into later periods when they were expanded and evolved further, including the , the , the , and the concerto. The late Baroque style was polyphonically complex and richly ornamented. Important composers from the Baroque era include ('), ('), and (').


The music of the (1730 to 1820) aimed to imitate what were seen as the key elements of the art and philosophy of Ancient Greece and Rome: the ideals of balance, proportion and disciplined expression. (Note: the music from the should not be confused with Classical music in general, a term which refers to Western from the 5th century to the 2000s, which includes the Classical period as one of a number of periods). Music from the Classical period has a lighter, clearer and considerably simpler texture than the which preceded it. The main style was , where a prominent and a subordinate chordal part are clearly distinct. Classical instrumental melodies tended to be almost voicelike and singable. New genres were developed, and the , the forerunner to the modern piano, replaced the Baroque era and as the main keyboard instrument (though pipe organ continued to be used in sacred music, such as Masses). Importance was given to music. It was dominated by further development of musical forms initially defined in the Baroque period: the , the concerto, and the . Others main kinds were the , , and . The sonata was the most important and developed form. Although Baroque composers also wrote sonatas, the Classical style of sonata is completely distinct. All of the main instrumental forms of the Classical era, from string quartets to symphonies and concertos, were based on the structure of the sonata. The instruments used and orchestra became more standardized. In place of the group of the Baroque era, which consisted of harpsichord, organ or lute along with a number of bass instruments selected at the discretion of the group leader (e.g., viol, cello, theorbo, serpent), Classical chamber groups used specified, standardized instruments (e.g., a would be performed by two violins, a viola and a cello). The Baroque era improvised chord-playing of the continuo keyboardist or lute player was gradually phased out between 1750 and 1800. One of the most important changes made in the Classical period was the development of public concerts. The aristocracy still played a significant role in the sponsorship of concerts and compositions, but it was now possible for composers to survive without being permanent employees of queens or princes. The increasing popularity of classical music led to a growth in the number and types of orchestras. The expansion of orchestral concerts necessitated the building of large public performance spaces. Symphonic music including symphonies, musical accompaniment to ballet and mixed vocal/instrumental genres such as opera and became more popular. The best known composers of Classicism are , , , , , and . Beethoven and Schubert are also considered to be composers in the later part of the Classical era, as it began to move towards Romanticism.


(c. 1810 to 1900) from the 19th century had many elements in common with the styles in literature and painting of the era. Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature. Romantic music expanded beyond the rigid styles and forms of the Classical era into more passionate, dramatic expressive pieces and songs. Romantic composers such as and attempted to increase emotional expression and power in their music to describe deeper truths or human feelings. With symphonic s, composers tried to tell stories and evoke images or landscapes using instrumental music. Some composers promoted pride with patriotic orchestral music inspired by . The emotional and expressive qualities of music came to take precedence over tradition. Romantic composers grew in idiosyncrasy, and went further in the of exploring different art-forms in a musical context, (such as literature), history (historical figures and legends), or nature itself. or longing was a prevalent theme in many works composed during this period. In some cases, the formal structures from the classical period continued to be used (e.g., the used in s and ), but these forms were expanded and altered. In many cases, new approaches were explored for existing genres, forms, and functions. Also, new forms were created that were deemed better suited to the new subject matter. Composers continued to develop opera and ballet music, exploring new styles and themes. In the years after 1800, the music developed by and introduced a more dramatic, expressive style. In Beethoven's case, short , developed organically, came to replace as the most significant compositional unit (an example is the distinctive four note figure used in his ). Later Romantic composers such as , , and used more unusual and more to create dramatic tension. They generated complex and often much longer musical works. During the late Romantic period, composers explored dramatic alterations of , such as s and s, which created new sound "colours". The late 19th century saw a dramatic expansion in the size of the orchestra, and the helped to create better instruments, creating a more powerful sound. Public concerts became an important part of well-to-do society. It also saw a new diversity in , including , and and other forms of musical theatre.

20th and 21st century

In the 19th century, one of the key ways that new compositions became known to the public was by the sales of , which middle class amateur music lovers would perform at home on their piano or other common instruments, such as violin. With , the invention of new such as and the availability of s meant that s of songs and pieces heard by listeners (either on the radio or on their record player) became the main way to learn about new songs and pieces. There was a vast increase in music listening as the radio gained popularity and s were used to replay and distribute music, because whereas in the 19th century, the focus on sheet music restricted access to new music to the middle class and upper-class people who could read music and who owned pianos and instruments, in the 20th century, anyone with a radio or record player could hear operas, and s right in their own living room. This allowed lower-income people, who would never be able to afford an opera or symphony concert ticket to hear this music. It also meant that people could hear music from different parts of the country, or even different parts of the world, even if they could not afford to travel to these locations. This helped to spread musical styles. The focus of in the 20th century was characterized by exploration of new rhythms, styles, and sounds. The horrors of influenced many of the arts, including music, and some composers began exploring darker, harsher sounds. styles such as and were used by composers as a source of ideas for classical music. , , and were all influential composers in 20th-century art music. The invention of and the ability to edit music gave rise to new subgenre of classical music, including the and schools of electronic composition. Sound recording was also a major influence on the development of popular music genres, because it enabled recordings of songs and bands to be widely distributed. The introduction of the system had a major influence on rock music, because it could do much more than record a band's performance. Using a multitrack system, a band and their music producer could overdub many layers of instrument tracks and vocals, creating new sounds that would not be possible in a live performance. evolved and became an important genre of music over the course of the 20th century, and during the second half of that century, rock music did the same. Jazz is an American musical artform that originated in the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States from a confluence of and European music traditions. The style's West African pedigree is evident in its use of s, , s, , and the . Rock music is a genre of that developed in the 1960s from 1950s , , , and . The sound of rock often revolves around the electric guitar or acoustic guitar, and it uses a strong laid down by a . Along with the guitar or keyboards, saxophone and blues-style harmonica are used as soloing instruments. In its "purest form", it "has three chords, a strong, insistent back beat, and a catchy melody". The traditional rhythm section for popular music is rhythm guitar, electric bass guitar, drums. Some bands also have keyboard instruments such as organ, piano, or, since the 1970s, s. In the 1980s, pop musicians began using digital synthesizers, such as the synthesizer, electronic s such as the and synth bass devices (such as the ) or keyboards. In the 1990s, an increasingly large range of computerized hardware musical devices and instruments and software (e.g., s) were used. In the 2020s, s and computer music apps make it possible for to create and record some types of music, such as in their own home, adding sampled and digital instruments and editing the recording digitally. In the 1990s, some bands in genres such as began including s in their bands. DJs create music by manipulating recorded music on record players or CD players, using a . Innovation in music technology continued into the 21st century, including the development of s and .


is the physical expression of music, which occurs when a song is sung or when a piano piece, electric guitar melody, symphony, drum beat or other is played by musicians. In classical music, a musical work is written in by a composer and then it is performed once the composer is satisfied with its structure and instrumentation. However, as it gets performed, the interpretation of a song or piece can evolve and change. In classical music, instrumental performers, singers or conductors may gradually make changes to the phrasing or tempo of a piece. In popular and traditional music, the performers have a lot more freedom to make changes to the form of a song or piece. As such, in popular and traditional music styles, even when a band plays a , they can make changes to it such as adding a to or inserting an introduction. A performance can either be planned out and rehearsed (practiced)—which is the norm in classical music, with jazz s and many popular music styles–or over a (a sequence of chords), which is the norm in small and groups. Rehearsals of orchestras, s and s are led by a conductor. Rock, blues and jazz bands are usually led by the bandleader. A rehearsal is a structured repetition of a song or piece by the performers until it can be sung or played correctly and, if it is a song or piece for more than one musician, until the parts are together from a rhythmic and tuning perspective. Improvisation is the creation of a musical idea–a melody or other musical line–created on the spot, often based on scales or pre-existing melodic s. Many cultures have strong traditions of solo performance (in which one singer or instrumentalist performs), such as in Indian classical music, and in the Western art-music tradition. Other cultures, such as in , include strong traditions of group performance. All cultures include a mixture of both, and performance may range from improvised solo playing to highly planned and organised performances such as the modern classical concert, religious processions, classical music festivals or s. , which is music for a small ensemble with only a few of each type of instrument, is often seen as more intimate than large symphonic works.

Oral and aural tradition

Many types of music, such as traditional and were not written down in ; instead, they were originally preserved in the memory of performers, and the songs were handed down , from one musician or singer to another, or aurally, in which a performer learns a song "". When the composer of a song or piece is no longer known, this music is often classified as "traditional" or as a "folk song". Different musical traditions have different attitudes towards how and where to make changes to the original source material, from quite strict, to those that demand improvisation or modification to the music. A culture's history and stories may also be passed on by ear through song.


In music, an consists of added notes that provide decoration to a melody, bassline or other musical part. The detail included explicitly in the varies between genres and historical periods. In general, art music notation from the 17th through the 19th centuries required performers to have a great deal of contextual knowledge about performing styles. For example, in the 17th and 18th centuries, music notated for solo performers typically indicated a simple, unadorned melody. Performers were expected to know how to add stylistically appropriate ornaments to add interest to the music, such as and . Different styles of music use different ornaments. A Baroque flute player might add s, which are short notes that are played before the main melody note, either above or below the main melody note. A blues guitarist playing electric guitar might use string bending to add expression; a player might use s and s. In the 19th century, art music for solo performers may give a general instruction such as to perform the music expressively, without describing in detail how the performer should do this. The performer was expected to know how to use tempo changes, , and (among other devices) to obtain this "expressive" performance style. In the 20th century, art music notation often became more explicit and used a range of markings and annotations to indicate to performers how they should play or sing the piece. In popular music and traditional music styles, performers are expected to know what types of ornaments are stylistically appropriate for a given song or piece, and performers typically add them in an improvised fashion. One exception is note-for-note solos, in which some players precisely recreate a famous version of a solo, such as a .

Philosophy and aesthetics

is a subfield of philosophy. The philosophy of music is the study of fundamental questions regarding music. The philosophical study of music has many connections with philosophical questions in and . Some basic questions in the philosophy of music are : * What is the ? (What are the for classifying something as music?) * What is the relationship between music and mind? * What does reveal to us about the world? * What is the connection between music and emotions? * What is meaning in relation to music? In ancient times, such as with the , the explored the mathematical and dimensions of ic and harmonic organization. In the 18th century, focus shifted to the experience of hearing music, and thus to questions about its beauty and human enjoyment (' and ') of music. The origin of this philosophic shift is sometimes attributed to in the 18th century, followed by . Through their writing, the ancient term 'aesthetics', meaning , received its present-day connotation. In the 2000s, philosophers have tended to emphasize issues besides beauty and enjoyment. For example, music's capacity to express emotion has been a central issue. In the 20th century, important contributions were made by , , , and . However, many musicians, , and other non-philosophers have contributed to the aesthetics of music. In the 19th century, a significant debate arose between , a and , and composer regarding whether music can express meaning. and some other s, such as , have studied and tried to popularize and the usage of alternate s. Also many modern composers like , and paid much attention to a scale called . It is often thought that music has the ability to affect our , , and ; it can assuage our loneliness or incite our passions. The suggests in ' that music has a direct effect on the soul. Therefore, he proposes that in the ideal regime music would be closely regulated by the state (Book VII). In Ancient China, the philosopher believed that music and rituals or rites are interconnected and harmonious with nature; he stated that music was the harmonization of heaven and earth, while the order was brought by the rites order, making them extremely crucial functions in society. There has been a strong tendency in the aesthetics of music to emphasize the paramount importance of compositional structure; however, other issues concerning the aesthetics of music include , , , , , , playfulness, and (see also ).


Modern aims to explain and understand musical and . Research in this field and its subfields are primarily ; their knowledge tends to advance on the basis of interpretations of data collected by systematic of and interaction with . In addition to its focus on fundamental perceptions and cognitive processes, music psychology is a field of research with practical relevance for many areas, including music , , , , and , as well as investigations of human , skill, , creativity, and .


of music is the scientific study of brain-based mechanisms involved in the cognitive processes underlying music. These behaviours include music listening, performing, composing, reading, writing, and ancillary activities. It also is increasingly concerned with the brain basis for musical aesthetics and musical emotion. The field is distinguished by its reliance on direct observations of the brain, using such techniques as (fMRI), (TMS), (MEG), (EEG), and (PET).

Cognitive musicology

is a branch of concerned with musical knowledge with the goal of understanding both music and cognition. The use of computer models provides an exacting, interactive medium in which to formulate and test theories and has roots in and . This interdisciplinary field investigates topics such as the parallels between language and music in the brain. Biologically inspired models of computation are often included in research, such as neural networks and evolutionary programs. This field seeks to model how musical knowledge is represented, stored, perceived, performed, and generated. By using a well-structured computer environment, the systematic structures of these cognitive phenomena can be investigated.


is the scientific study of sound perception. More specifically, it is the branch of science studying the and responses associated with sound (including and music). It can be further categorized as a branch of .

Evolutionary musicology

concerns the "origins of music, the question of animal song, selection pressures underlying music evolution", and "music evolution and human evolution".Wallin, Nils L./Björn Merker/Steven Brown (1999): "An Introduction to Evolutionary Musicology." In: Wallin, Nils L./Björn Merker/Steven Brown (Eds., 1999): ''The Origins of Music'', pp. 5–6. . It seeks to understand music perception and activity in the context of . speculated that music may have held an adaptive advantage and functioned as a , a view which has spawned several competing theories of music evolution. An alternate view sees music as a by-product of ; a type of "auditory cheesecake" that pleases the senses without providing any adaptive function. This view has been directly countered by numerous music researchers.

Cultural effects

An individual's culture or plays a role in their , including their , , and . Musical preferences are biased toward culturally familiar musical traditions beginning in infancy, and adults' classification of the emotion of a musical piece depends on both culturally specific and universal structural features. Additionally, individuals' musical memory abilities are greater for culturally familiar music than for culturally unfamiliar music.

Sociological aspects

Many ethnographic studies demonstrate that music is a participatory, community-based activity. Music is experienced by individuals in a range of social settings ranging from being alone to attending a large concert, forming a , which cannot be understood as a function of individual will or accident; it includes both commercial and non-commercial participants with a shared set of common values. Musical performances take different forms in different cultures and socioeconomic milieus. In Europe and North America, there is often a divide between what types of music are viewed as a "" and "." "High culture" types of music typically include Western art music such as Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and modern-era symphonies, concertos, and solo works, and are typically heard in formal concerts in concert halls and churches, with the audience sitting quietly in seats. Other types of music—including, but not limited to, jazz, blues, , and —are often performed in bars, nightclubs, and theatres, where the audience may be able to drink, dance, and express themselves by cheering. Until the later 20th century, the division between "high" and "low" musical forms was widely accepted as a valid distinction that separated out better quality, more advanced "art music" from the popular styles of music heard in bars and dance halls. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, musicologists studying this perceived divide between "high" and "low" musical genres argued that this distinction is not based on the musical value or quality of the different types of music. Rather, they argued that this distinction was based largely on the s standing or social class of the performers or audience of the different types of music. For example, whereas the audience for Classical symphony concerts typically have above-average incomes, the audience for a rap concert in an inner-city area may have below-average incomes. Even though the performers, audience, or venue where non-"art" music is performed may have a lower socioeconomic status, the music that is performed, such as blues, rap, , , or may be very complex and sophisticated. When composers introduce styles of music that break with convention, there can be a strong resistance from academic music experts and popular culture. Late-period Beethoven string quartets, Stravinsky ballet scores, , -era , , , and have all been considered non-music by some critics when they were first introduced. Such themes are examined in the sociology of music. The sociological study of music, sometimes called , is often pursued in departments of sociology, media studies, or music, and is closely related to the field of .

Role of women

Women have played a major role in music throughout history, as composers, songwriters, , singers, conductors, , , /s and other musical professions. As well, it describes music movements, events and genres related to women, and . In the 2010s, while women comprise a significant proportion of and classical music singers, and a significant proportion of songwriters (many of them being singer-songwriters), there are few women record producers, and rock instrumentalists. Although there have been a huge number of in classical music, from the medieval period to the present day, women composers are significantly underrepresented in the , music history textbooks and music encyclopedias; for example, in the ''Concise Oxford History of Music'', is one of the only female composers who is mentioned. Women comprise a significant proportion of instrumental soloists in classical music and the percentage of women in orchestras is increasing. A 2015 article on concerto soloists in major Canadian orchestras, however, indicated that 84% of the soloists with the were men. In 2012, women still made up just 6% of the top-ranked orchestra. Women are less common as instrumental players in popular music genres such as rock and , although there have been a number of notable female instrumentalists and s. Women are particularly underrepresented in genres. In the 1960s pop-music scene, " ke most aspects of the...music business, n the 1960s,songwriting was a male-dominated field. Though there were plenty of female singers on the radio, women ...were primarily seen as consumers:... Singing was sometimes an acceptable pastime for a girl, but playing an instrument, writing songs, or producing records simply wasn't done." Young women "...were not socialized to see themselves as people who create usic" Women are also underrepresented in orchestral conducting, music criticism/music journalism, , and . While women were discouraged from composing in the 19th century, and there are few women , women became involved in "...to such a degree that women dominated
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during the later half of the 19th century and well into the 20th century." According to Jessica Duchen, a music writer for London's ', women musicians in classical music are "...too often judged for their appearances, rather than their talent" and they face pressure "...to look sexy onstage and in photos."http://music.cbc.ca/#!/blogs/2014/3/Classical-musics-shocking-gender-gap Duchen states that while " ere are women musicians who refuse to play on their looks,...the ones who do tend to be more materially successful." According to the UK's Radio 3 editor, Edwina Wolstencroft, the music industry has long been open to having women in performance or entertainment roles, but women are much less likely to have positions of authority, such as being the . In popular music, while there are many women singers recording songs, there are very few women behind the acting as music producers, the individuals who direct and manage the recording process. One of the most recorded artists is , an Indian singer best known as a playback singer in Hindi cinema.

Media and technology

The music that composers and songwriters make can be heard through several media; the most traditional way is to hear it live, in the presence of the musicians (or as one of the musicians), in an outdoor or indoor space such as an amphitheatre, , room, , pub, or coffeehouse. Since the 20th century, live music can also be broadcast over the radio, television or the Internet, or and listened to on a or Mp3 player. Some musical styles focus on producing songs and pieces for a live performance, while others focus on producing a recording that mixes together sounds that were never played "live." Even in essentially live styles such as rock, recording engineers often use the ability to to produce recordings that may be considered "better" than the actual live performance. For example, some singers record themselves singing a melody and then record multiple harmony parts using overdubbing, creating a sound that would be impossible to do live. has had an influence on music since prehistoric times, when cave people used simple tools to bore holes into bone flutes 41,000 years ago. Technology continued to influence music throughout the history of music, as it enabled new instruments and music notation reproduction systems to be used, with one of the watershed moments in music notation being the invention of the in the 1400s, which meant music scores no longer had to be hand copied. In the 19th century, music technology led to the development of a more powerful, louder piano and led to the development of new valves brass instruments. In the early 20th century (in the late 1920s), as emerged in the early 20th century, with their prerecorded musical tracks, an increasing number of moviehouse orchestra musicians found themselves out of work. During the 1920s, live musical performances by orchestras, pianists, and ists were common at first-run theaters. With the coming of the talking motion pictures, those featured performances were largely eliminated. The (AFM) took out newspaper advertisements protesting the replacement of live musicians with mechanical playing devices. One 1929 ad that appeared in the ' features an image of a can labeled "Canned Music / Big Noise Brand / Guaranteed to Produce No Intellectual or Emotional Reaction Whatever" Since legislation introduced to help protect performers, composers, publishers and producers, including the of 1992 in the United States, and the 1979 revised in the United Kingdom, recordings and live performances have also become more accessible through computers, devices and Internet in a form that is commonly known as . In many cultures, there is less distinction between performing and listening to music, since virtually everyone is involved in some sort of musical activity, often in a communal setting. In industrialized countries, listening to music through a recorded form, such as on record or radio became more common than experiencing live performance, roughly in the middle of the 20th century. By the 1980s, watching s was a popular way to listen to music, while also seeing the performers. Sometimes, live performances incorporate prerecorded sounds. For example, a uses for , and some 20th-century works have a solo for an instrument or voice that is performed along with music that is prerecorded onto a tape. Some pop bands use recorded . Computers and many can be programmed to produce and play (MIDI) music. Audiences can also ''become'' performers by participating in , an activity of Japanese origin centered on a device that plays voice-eliminated versions of well-known songs. Most karaoke machines also have video screens that show lyrics to songs being performed; performers can follow the lyrics as they sing over the instrumental tracks.


The advent of the Internet and widespread high-speed broadband access has transformed the experience of music, partly through the increased ease of access to recordings of music via and vastly increased choice of music for consumers. , in his book ', suggests that while the traditional economic model of describes scarcity, the Internet retail model is based on abundance. costs are low, so a company can afford to make its whole recording inventory available online, giving customers as much choice as possible. It has thus become economically viable to offer music recordings that very few people are interested in. Consumers' growing awareness of their increased choice results in a closer association between listening tastes and social identity, and the creation of thousands of s. Another effect of the Internet arose with and websites like YouTube and Facebook, a . These sites make it easier for aspiring singers and amateur bands to distribute videos of their songs, connect with other musicians, and gain audience interest. Professional musicians also use YouTube as a free publisher of promotional material. YouTube users, for example, no longer only download and listen to MP3s, but also actively create their own. According to and , in their book ', there has been a shift from a traditional consumer role to what they call a "" role, a consumer who both creates content and consumes. Manifestations of this in music include the production of , es, and music videos by fans.


The refers to the businesses connected with the creation and sale of music. It consists of songwriters and composers who create new songs and musical pieces, music producers and s who record songs and pieces, record labels and that distribute recorded music products and internationally and that often control the rights to those products. Some music labels are "," while others are subsidiaries of larger corporate entities or international . In the 2000s, the increasing popularity of listening to music as digital music files on MP3 players, iPods, or computers, and of trading music on websites or buying it online in the form of digital files had a major impact on the traditional music business. Many smaller independent s went out of business as music buyers decreased their purchases of CDs, and many labels had lower CD sales. Some companies did well with the change to a digital format, though, such as Apple's , an that sells digital files of songs over the Internet.

Intellectual property laws

In spite of some , determining which music is in the is complicated by of national s that may be applicable. formerly protected printed music published after 1923 for 28 years and with renewal for another 28 years, but the made renewal automatic, and the changed the calculation of the copyright term to 70 years after the death of the creator. Recorded sound falls under , often covered by a confusing patchwork of state laws; most s are licensed through the . may be obtained by either performers or the performance venue; the two major organizations for licensing are and . Two online sources for are and .



The incorporation of some music or singing training into general education from to is common in North America and Europe. Involvement in playing and singing music is thought to teach basic skills such as concentration, , listening, and cooperation while also promoting understanding of , improving the ability to information, and creating an environment more conducive to learning in other areas. In elementary schools, children often learn to play instruments such as the , sing in small choirs, and learn about the history of Western art music and traditional music. Some elementary school children also learn about popular music styles. In religious schools, children sing s and other religious music. In secondary schools (and less commonly in elementary schools), students may have the opportunity to perform in some types of musical ensembles, such as s (a group of singers), s, s, jazz bands, or orchestras. In some school systems, music lessons on how to play instruments may be provided. Some students also take private s after school with a singing teacher or instrument teacher. Amateur musicians typically learn basic musical rudiments (e.g., learning about for s and rhythms) and beginner- to intermediate-level singing or instrument-playing techniques. At the university level, students in most arts and programs can receive for taking a few music courses, which typically take the form of an overview course on the , or a course that focuses on listening to music and learning about different musical styles. In addition, most North American and European universities have some types of musical ensembles that students in arts and humanities are able to participate in, such as choirs, marching bands, concert bands, or orchestras. The study of Western art music is increasingly common outside of North America and Europe, such as the in , , or the classical music programs that are available in Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, and China. At the same time, Western universities and colleges are widening their curriculum to include music of non-Western cultures, such as the or Bali (e.g. music).


People aiming to become professional musicians, singers, composers, songwriters, music teachers and practitioners of other music-related professions such as professors, s, and so on study in specialized post-secondary programs offered by colleges, universities and . Some institutions that train individuals for careers in music offer training in a wide range of professions, as is the case with many of the top U.S. universities, which offer degrees in music performance (including singing and playing instruments), music history, music theory, music composition, (for individuals aiming to become elementary or high school music teachers) and, in some cases, conducting. On the other hand, some small colleges may only offer training in a single profession (e.g., ). While most university and conservatory music programs focus on training students in classical music, there are a number of universities and colleges that train musicians for careers as or musicians and composers, with notable U.S. examples including the and the . Two important schools in Canada which offer professional jazz training are and . Individuals aiming at careers in some types of music, such as , or are less likely to become professionals by completing degrees or diplomas in colleges or universities. Instead, they typically learn about their style of music by singing or playing in many bands (often beginning in amateur bands, s and s), studying recordings available on CD, DVD and the Internet and working with already-established professionals in their style of music, either through informal or regular s. Since the 2000s, the increasing popularity and availability of Internet forums and YouTube "how-to" videos have enabled many singers and musicians from metal, blues and similar genres to improve their skills. Many pop, rock and country singers train informally with es and s.


in music, including the , the Bachelor of Music Education, and the Bachelor of Arts (with a major in music) typically take about four years to complete. These degrees provide students with a grounding in music theory and music history, and many students also study an instrument or learn singing technique as part of their program. Graduates of undergraduate music programs can seek employment or go on to further study in music graduate programs. Bachelor's degree graduates are also eligible to apply to some graduate programs and s outside of music (e.g., , , , and, in some jurisdictions, , or ).


Graduate music degrees include the , the Master of Arts (in musicology, music theory or another music field), the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) (e.g., in musicology or music theory), and more recently, the , or DMA. The Master of Music degree, which takes one to two years to complete, is typically awarded to students studying the performance of an instrument, education, voice (singing) or composition. The Master of Arts degree, which takes one to two years to complete and often requires a , is typically awarded to students studying musicology, music history, music theory or ethnomusicology. The PhD, which is required for students who want to work as university professors in musicology, music history, or music theory, takes three to five years of study after the master's degree, during which time the student will complete advanced courses and undertake research for a dissertation. The DMA is a relatively new degree that was created to provide a credential for professional performers or composers that want to work as university professors in musical performance or composition. The DMA takes three to five years after a master's degree, and includes advanced courses, projects, and performances. In Medieval times, the study of music was one of the of the seven and considered vital to higher learning. Within the quantitative Quadrivium, music, or more accurately s, was the study of rational proportions.


, the academic study of the subject of music, is studied in universities and music conservatories. The earliest definitions from the 19th century defined three sub-disciplines of musicology: , , and comparative musicology or . In 2010-era scholarship, one is more likely to encounter a division of the discipline into , , and . Research in musicology has often been enriched by cross-disciplinary work, for example in the field of . The study of music of non-Western cultures, and the cultural study of music, is called ethnomusicology. Students can pursue the undergraduate study of musicology, ethnomusicology, , and music theory through several different types of degrees, including bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and PhD degrees.

Music theory

is the study of music, generally in a highly technical manner outside of other disciplines. More broadly it refers to any study of music, usually related in some form with compositional concerns, and may include , , and . What is most commonly taught in beginning music theory classes are guidelines to write in the style of the , or . Theory, even of music of the common practice period, may take many other forms. is the application of mathematical to music, first applied to . ''Speculative music theory'', contrasted with ''analytic music theory'', is devoted to the analysis and synthesis of music materials, for example , generally as preparation for composition.


is the study of the music of non-human animals, or the musical aspects of sounds produced by non-human animals. As George Herzog (1941) asked, "do animals have music?" 's ''Musique, mythe, nature, ou les Dauphins d'Arion'' (1983), a study of "ornitho-musicology" using a technique of 's ''Langage, musique, poésie'' (1972) , shows that are organised according to a repetition-transformation principle. Jean-Jacques Nattiez (1990), argues that "in the last analysis, it is a human being who decides what is and is not musical, even when the sound is not of human origin. If we acknowledge that sound is not organised and conceptualised (that is, made to form music) merely by its producer, but by the mind that perceives it, then music is uniquely human."


In the West, much of the history of music that is taught deals with the Western civilization's art music, which is known as classical music. The history of music in non-Western cultures ("" or the field of "ethnomusicology"), which typically covers music from Africa and Asia is also taught in Western universities. This includes the documented classical traditions of Asian countries outside the influence of Western Europe, as well as the folk or indigenous music of various other cultures. Popular or folk styles of music in non-Western countries varied widely from culture to culture, and from period to period. Different cultures emphasised different , techniques, singing styles and uses for music. Music has been used for entertainment, ceremonies, rituals, religious purposes and for practical and artistic communication. Non-Western music has also been used for propaganda purposes, as was the case with during the . There is a host of music classifications for non-Western music, many of which are caught up in the argument over the . Among the largest of these is the division between classical music (or "art" music), and popular music (or – including non-Western styles of rock, , and pop music-related styles). Some genres do not fit neatly into one of these "big two" classifications, (such as , , or -related music). As world cultures have come into , their indigenous musical styles have often merged with other styles, which produces new styles. For example, the United States style contains elements from -, , Irish, and African instrumental and vocal traditions, which were able to fuse in the United States' multi-ethnic "" society. Some types of world music contain a mixture of non-Western indigenous styles with Western pop music elements. Genres of music are determined as much by tradition and presentation as by the actual music. Some works, like 's ', are claimed by both jazz and classical music, while Gershwin's ' and 's ' are claimed by both opera and the tradition. Many current music festivals for non-Western music include bands and singers from a particular musical genre, such as world music. , for example, is one of the oldest and longest living types of music, and is still widely heard and performed in South Asia, as well as internationally (especially since the 1960s). Indian music has mainly three forms of classical music, , , and styles. It has also a large repertoire of styles, which involve only percussion music such as the talavadya performances famous in .


is an interpersonal process in which a trained therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients to improve or maintain their health. In some instances, the client's needs are addressed directly through music; in others they are addressed through the relationships that develop between the client and therapist. Music therapy is used with individuals of all ages and with a variety of conditions, including: psychiatric disorders, medical problems, physical disabilities, sensory impairments, developmental disabilities, substance abuse issues, communication disorders, interpersonal problems, and aging. It is also used to improve learning, build self-esteem, reduce stress, , and facilitate a host of other health-related activities. Music therapists may encourage clients to sing, play instruments, create songs, or do other musical activities. One of the earliest mentions of music therapy was in 's (c. 872–950) treatise ''Meanings of the Intellect'', which described the therapeutic effects of music on the . Music has long been used to help people deal with their emotions. In the 17th century, the scholar 's ' argued that music and dance were critical in treating , especially . He noted that music has an "excellent power ...to expel many other diseases" and he called it "a sovereign remedy against despair and melancholy." He pointed out that in Antiquity, Canus, a Rhodian fiddler, used music to "make a melancholy man merry, ...a lover more enamoured, a religious man more devout." In the , mental illnesses were treated with music. In November 2006, Dr. Michael J. Crawford and his colleagues also found that music therapy helped patients. had a lifelong love of music (particularly the works of and ), once stating that life without playing music would be inconceivable to him. In some interviews Einstein even attributed much of his scientific intuition to music, with his son Hans recounting that "whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all his difficulties." Something in the music, according to Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein in ', "would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions." It has been said that Einstein considered Mozart's music to reveal a universal harmony that Einstein believed existed in the universe, "as if the great Wolfgang Amadeus did not 'create' his beautifully clear music at all, but simply discovered it already made. This perspective parallels, remarkably, Einstein’s views on the ultimate simplicity of nature and its explanation and statement via essentially simple mathematical expressions." A review suggests that music may be effective for improving subjective sleep quality in adults with insomnia symptoms. Music is also being used in clinical rehabilitation of cognitive and motor disorders.

See also

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Further reading

* * * * Online version a
''Grove Music Online''
* Small, Christopher (1977). ''Music, Society, Education''. John Calder Publishers, London.

External links

BBC Blast Music
For 13- to 19-year-olds interested in learning about, making, performing and talking about music.
Grove Music Online
— online version of '.
The Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
with definitions, pronunciations, examples, quizzes and simulations
The Music-Web Music Encyclopedia
for musicians, composers and music lovers

complete, with references to a list of specialised music dictionaries (by continent, by instrument, by genre, etc.)
Musical Terms
– Glossary of music terms from Naxos
"On Hermeneutical Ethics and Education: Bach als Erzieher"
a paper by Prof. Miguel Ángel Quintana Paz in which he explains the history of the different views hold about music in Western societies, since the Ancient Greece to our days.
Monthly Online Features From Bloomingdale School of Music
addressing a variety of musical topics for a wide audience

Articles meant to stimulate people's awareness about the peace enhancing, transforming, communicative, educational and healing powers of music.
Scientific American, ''Musical Chills Related to Brain Dopamine Release''
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