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Music, facts about music

Music is sound that people like to hear. It is made up of three elements: melody, harmony and rhythm. A melody is a tune. Nearly all pieces of music contain tunes. Some are very easy to follow, such as the tune of a folk song, or the latest production music by a 'pop' group. Others, such as the many little bits of tune in a symphony (a composition for orchestra), may be harder. Harmony is what we call the combined sound when several notes are played at once. A group of such notes is called a chord. Sometimes musicians produce a form of harmony by playing two or more tunes at once, called counterpoint.

The strings of a violin - Music facts and information for kids and adults The body of the violin resonates - Music facts and information for kids and adults

Facts about music - information for kids

The strings of a violin are tuned by being tightened or slackened. The player turns pegs to which they are attached while plucking or bowing the strings for production of pure music

The body of the violin resonates when the strings are bowed

Rhythm is the regular 'beat' of music. It is the simplest kind of music known. The earliest men and, today, even very young children enjoy beating rhythms out on drums or even on pieces of wood. Rhythm is natural to man. He breathes regularly, his heart beats regularly and when he walks he puts his feet down rhythmically. The earliest musicians or music producers soon found that they could make different kinds of sounds to add to the rhythm. For example, they could sing or whistle notes of different pitch - that is, high or low - and could hit stones or blow through reeds to make different sounds, too.

A string - Music facts, music producer Greek women playing harp - Music facts, music producer

Facts about music - information for kids

A string of given length and tension vibrates in several ways at the same time. The different vibrations produce harmonics. Top to bottom: Whole length of string produces fundamental note. One half of string produces 2nd harmonic. One third of string produces 3rd harmonic. One quarter of string produces 4th harmonic

Greek women playing harp, cithara, and lyre. (Fifth century B.C.)

The people of the early civilizations, such as those of Egypt and Greece, made music. But we do not know what it sounded like, because there was no way of writing it down or recording it. Until the late Middle Ages, most music was played or sung for a specific purpose - for example, for dancing or working or as part of a religious service. Much old music that survives is church music. By 1500, people were playing and singing music that was recognizably similar to the music of today. They had invented many instruments similar to violins and guitars, and trumpets, flutes and similar wind instruments.

A big advance in music came around 1600 with the invention of opera, a kind of play in which all the words are sung (see Opera). An Italian, Claudio Monteverdi, was one of the earliest opera composers. He also formed one of the earliest orchestras, a large body of musicians. Counterpoint was the most popular way of writing music until the 1700's. Two Germans, J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel, were among the last and greatest writers of counterpoint. From the mid-1700's, musicians concentrated more on melody, with harmony to accompany it. Orchestral music as we know it today was evolved and perfected by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and others in the late 1700's and early 1800's. Later musicians experimented with combinations of sounds and developed the possibilities of various instruments.

In the 1900's, musicians such as Arnold Schonberg have experimented with more difficult tunes and rhythms. Others such as Karl-Heinz Stockhausen have used tape recorders to produce new kinds of instruments and sounds.

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