Welcome to A History of Western Music - 7th Edition

Gustav Klimt. Die Musik (detail). 1895. Neue Pinakothek, Munich.
Photo: © Joachin Blauel/ARTOTHEK

This site requires Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher / Mozilla-Compatible Browser, and Macromedia Flash player.

Part I: The Ancient and Medieval Worlds

Part I: The Ancient and Medieval WorldsMany fundamental elements of today’s music can be traced back thousands of years. Prehistoric societies developed instruments, pitches, melody, and rhythm. Early civilizations used music in religious ceremonies, to accompany dance, for recreation, and in education - much as we do today. Ancient writers directly influenced our ways of thinking about music, from concepts such as notes, intervals, and scales, to notions of how music affects our feelings and character. Medieval musicians contributed further innovations, devising notation systems that led to our own; creating pedagogical methods and sacred chants still in use today; developing styles of melody that have influenced the music of all later periods; inventing polyphony and harmony; and developing techniques of composition, form, and musical structure that laid the foundation for music in all subsequent eras.

The music and musical practices of antiquity and the Middle Ages echo in our own music, and we know ourselves better if we understand our heritage. Yet only fragments survive from the musical cultures of the past, especially the distant past. So our first task is to consider how we can assemble those fragments to learn about a musical world of long ago.

Chapters Included in this Part:

Chapter 1: Music in Antiquity
Chapter 2: The Christian Church in the First Millennium
Chapter 3: Roman Liturgy and Chant
Chapter 4: Song and Dance Music in the Middle Ages
Chapter 5: Polyphony through the Thirteenth Century
Chapter 6: French and Italian Music in the Fourteenth Century