The History of Music (remixed)

-Anahita Teresa Paul, I Visual Arts

Terribly illustrated jokes aside, music has been around for a quite a while, and to do a throw back on it would require me to take us all on a long long journey.

While I BET that cavemen invented the magic that is music, there is no concrete evidence that shows us that. The oldest musical composition to have survived in its entirety is a first century A.D. Greek tune known as the ‘Seikilos epitaph.’ I haven’t listened to it but the ancient Greeks had good taste, so I’ll say it’s a masterpiece. After this is when things get tricky. Music is found in every known culture, past and present, varying widely between times and places and for me to cover every single composition in the world would take too much time, so, I’ll be focusing on music from the Western World and India.

Authentic Indian music finds its roots back in literature such as Natya Shastra, which was written in around 200 BC (this completely contradicts that whole ‘Selikilos epitaph’ thing Google tried to feed me). India being the diverse country that it is, sporadically birthed various genres of music which rose from the plethora of cultures it houses (go diversity!). The South blessed us with Carnatic music and the North laid Ghazal and Hindustani music on the table. The most interesting part of the history of Indian music happened during the 16th century in the Mughal court. Miyan Tansen, one of Akbar’s nine gems was the legend of his time and rightfully so because when Tansen sang the raga ‘Dipaka’, it is said that – ‘fire ignited by his wonderful music consumed his body’. Similarly, he could bring rain to the empire during drought with his magical musical powers- I know you want a Tansen of your own now.

The western world went on a bit of a rollercoaster ride- much like its art, music also kept evolving from Medieval to Renaissance to Baroque (shout out to Beethoven’s Symphony 9) to Classical to Romantic until it reached the 1900s.

The twentieth century in India was truly a landmark year for music. Amazing artists like M.S. Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraaja, Naushad, S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman got a chance to showcase their talents. Movie albums allowed artists to experiment with new sounds while other independent artists sprung up collaborating with each other.

Across the pond we could comb through the century and find ourselves amidst the birth of Jazz (and its unfortunate decline), Rock and Roll, Punk, Emo (is that a genre or an excuse to be angsty for people like me?) and so much more.

It was also this century that invented the fangirl. She fawned over Sinatra in the forties, killed herself for Elvis in the fifties and screamed her guts out for The Beatles in the sixties much like she did for One Direction in the late 2000s and for, uh, you know K pop bands in general (I’m not naming names, no one hate me) today.

I honestly can’t wait for the time when the music of today becomes the throwback of tomorrow, when our children will look at our YouTube playlists in awe, much like we do with our parents’ mixtapes.

 

 

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