An Historical Timeline

Ever since the dawn of humanity, music, even in a rudimentary form, has accompanied mankind's development.  The earliest form of music probably had its origins in the vocal efforts of the human, whether the cries of lamentation for a departed relative, the soothing hum of a mother's voice to her child or the rhythmic shouts heard in the battle cry of warriors.

Other sounds must have come by chance to the human ear, e.g. the beating of a stout stick or branch upon a stone to frighten off a threatening beast or a similar striking upon a hollow tree trunk which would have given a completely different timbre to the sound, all to the early man's delight and precursor to rhythm.

When the first humans ventured forth to a mist-clad swamp whence came the strange sound of ghostly spirits and realised that the sound came from wind blowing across reeds at the waters' margin, the blown instrument was suggested by nature to humanity.

We also find a hunter making a bow for use in the following day's hunt applying the string to the wood.  By now he had accepted that the tension of the string governed the pace and distance of the arrow.  This day, however, when tightening the string and testing the tension by plucking, he was to discover that the bow-string produced a sound.  Much later his mind was to discover that the tighter and consequently shorter the string, the higher was the sound.

Blowing across and through an animal horn must also have been gifted by nature to suggest a more forceful sound than a blown reed or flute.

Now to an historical survey of the accumulation of humanity's music making.

B.C. 4th Millennium

   Sumerian temple ritual - hymns chanted within a poetical form of liturgy.

B.C. 3005 - 2776

  Egyptian Middle Kingdom.  Tambourine used for rhythm and the
                   Sehem & Sesheshem (2 different sistra) in rituals of
                   a Goddess.  (Note the name Sesheshem which is
                   onomatopoetic, suggesting the sound of the sistrum.)

B.C. c. 2100

  Sumerian temple ritual - antiphonal chanting.

                    Sem (reed pipe)
                    Tig (vertival flute)
                    Balag (drum)
                    Lilis (kettledrum)
                    Adapa (tambourine)
                    Algar (lyre)
                    Zagsal (harp with lower sounding  chest)
                    Zaggal (harp with upper sounding chest)

B.C. c. 1590

    Jewish temple.  Singing by women - body movements inseparable.

                Accompanied by:
                    Tof (tabret).
                    Also in use:
                    Shofar (ram’s horn)
                    Hazozra (trumpet)
                    Pa’amon ( bells on priests’ robes for protection - (vide
                    “Song of Miriam in Exodus).

B.C. 973 - 933

  Solomon’s temple.  Psalms sung by priests and accompanied by:

                    Kinnor (lyre)
                    Nevel (10 stringed harp)
                    Mziltaim (cymbals to show pauses in the psalms)
                    Hazozra (trumpet) in pairs
                    120 trumpets & 248 singers (vide Chronicles)

B.C. c. 700

        Chaldea.  Musical theory linked with mathematics and astrology.  Cosmic
        correspondences  demonstrated by harmonic divisions of a stretched string.

        4 intervals: 1:1 (unison); 1:2 (octave); 2:3 (fifth) 3:4 (fourth).
        These ratios corresponded to the four seasons (vide Plutarch).  Pythagoras
        brought these sciences back to Greece.

B.C. 6th - 5th centuries

        India.  Scenes from sacred epics form sacred musical dance dramas, a
        tradition surviving today in the Kathakali of Kerala in the south.
        (vide Mahabharata & B.C. 6th - 5th centuries Ramayana)

B.C. c.235

        Hydraulis (water organ) invented by the Egyptian Ctesibius of
        Alexandria (246 B.C. - 221 B.C.)

A.D. 1st century

        Jewish temple.  Chorus of Levites with 9 lyres, 2 harps, 1 pair of cymbals
        and 2 Halilim (double oboes) on festival days.  Megrepha in use - a small
        organ which was more like a syrinx.
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        Earliest Christian precentors had been brought up in Jewish houses of
        worship, therefore early Christian music is traced to that of the
        Hebrew Temple.

A.D. 4th century  ..

        Start of synagogues.  Rabbis discouraged contact with secular music -
        banning instruments from worship.
        First Christians were Jews and therefore had no need to invent a new
        music for the cult.

        Age old melodic formulas adaptable to the 3 canticles of the new faith -
        Magnificat, Nunc Dimitis and Benedictus.  Psalm singing retained -
        responsorial by a soloist with choral refrain.

A.D. c. 350

        Antioch.  Psalms sung antiphonally by alternate choruses of men and
        women.  St. Ambrose introduced this method to the west in 387.
        Each psalm ended with the “Gloria Patri”.

A.D. end of 6th century

        Pope Gregory reformed melodies & hymns and established a musical
        liturgy which was followed by the Catholic Church thereafter.  Lutherans
        and Anglicans preserved the Gregorian chant after the breakaway.
        Music essentially ‘monody’.

A.D. c. 9th century

        Tenors and basses started to sing the chants at their own pitch.
        Sometimes the bass held a ‘pedal’ note or drone.  From this primitive
        device sprang ‘organum’ or ‘diaphony’.  In time it was noted that
        the voices need not proceed in parallel parts.

A.D. c. 1000

        Contemporary folk music influence entered but was curbed later when in:---

A.D. 1563

        Pope Pius 4th commissioned 8 cardinals, the most active of whom were
        Cardinals Borromeo & Vitellozzi, to reform church music.  They in turn
        commissioned Palestrina to compose 3 masses and the favourite chosen
        was 'Missa Papae Marcelli' - an example for future composition by all
        composers of church music. This Papal decree ensured that the "restrained
        purity" of music be retained.
        Musical development, therefore, received a restraint that was to hold
        back its natural vitality for some 280 years as all folk idiom was banned.

If, as has been suggested on many occasions by various sources, ancient Egypt had been settled by survivors of the Atlantean cataclysm, then Western music indeed may have its rudimentary origins in the musical art forms of Ancient Atlantis.