History timeline and ancient music

Recorded history goes back to about 4000 B.C., or about 6000 years

Recorded history in the West is divided into three main eras: Ancient (4000 B.C to about 450 A.D.); the Middle Ages (about 450 A.D. until about 1450 A.D.); and Modern (after about 1450 A.D.)

The fall of the last of the great ancient civilizations during the 5th century A.D., the Roman Empire, is what marks the end of ancient history.
B.C. means “before Christ” and A.D. means “anno domini” (in the year of our Lord). Thus, we date time according to the life of Christ, who lived during the time of the Roman Empire.

Other ancient civilizations included the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Greeks.

Ancient Greeks

We know very little about what ancient music sounded like, however, we know what the ancient Greeks thought about music from their writings

The ancient Greek civilization was at its peak about 2400- 2300 years ago

Ancient Greek civilization has had a lasting influence upon Western civilization due to its well-known philosophers, writers, mathematicians, and its architecture

The word music comes from the ancient Greek “art of the Muses.”  The Muses were the goddesses of all the arts.

The ancient Greeks did not think of music as separate from the other arts, especially poetry and dancing

The most famous ancient Greek philosophers were Socrates, his pupil Plato, and Plato’s pupil, Aristotle

The ancient Greeks believed in a philosophy called the “Doctrine of Ethos” which stated that music and the other arts had the power to effect one’s morals and behavior.

Plato believed that because of this, the government needed to censor the arts so that people would develop the right kind of character.  Do people still believe this?

The ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagorus is credited with discovering the mathematical ratios found in pitch intervals, for instance the octave having a ratio of 2:1, and the perfect 5th having a ratio of 3:2

Pythagorus believed that the secrets of the universe could be unlocked by the study of numbers, thus the study of music was an important part of this idea.

The ancient Greeks also had two religious cults called the “Cult of Apollo” and the “Cult of Dionysus.”

Followers of the cult of Apollo preferred art that was calm, orderly, and dignified, while followers of the cult of Dionysus preferred art that was wild and emotional.  This idea shows up in music and the other arts of later times.