This month, Clef Notes is geared to the true music nerd. We are stepping way back in time to look at how Western music is actually rooted in antiquity. We will then walk through the development of chant, notation, and the importance of music in the church during the Middle Ages.
Did you know that ancient Greek writings provide influence for Western views on music? More writings about music survive from ancient Greece than from any other civilization. Some of these writings focus on how music affects the listener. Others talk about music theory. You’ve probably heard of Plato and Aristotle, right? They wrote about how music can affect mood. Plato believed that music should only be used to educate while Aristotle’s views said that it is perfectly alright to listen to music to bring pleasure.
We don’t really have much in the way of notated music dating from ancient times. Most of what we know comes from writings such as these. It is believed that musicians of that time tended to rely more on their memory and formulas when passing along musical ideas orally rather than on notation.
The church played a large role in Medieval culture. In fact, it is what helped music traditions develop, eventually leading to the system of notation we know today. We’ll talk about this more next time.