by Christie Becker, March 1st, 2019
Music has been an important part of society for thousands of years. Over time it has seen dramatic changes, which begs the question:
Where's it going?
Music - For You
The popularity of musical recordings has developed a new brand of musician. As music styles develop and change, recorded accompaniment as a tool is being used by a handful of live-performance artists as they reinvent chamber music. The excitement and magic of a live performance is no longer limited to once-in-a-lifetime events or large elaborate concert halls. Now it is once again music for the people - another tool to make your event extraordinary. The rich and layered textures of the recorded backtrack is combined with a live solo performance for a combination with nearly infinite possibilities!
Music Through History
Humans have always needed to create music. While the first musical instrument was the voice, soon after came the use of percussive elements and the ancestor of our modern-day wind instruments. Having been used throughout the world for millennia, some of the earliest examples are found in India and China where animal bone was used to make flutes. Reed instruments appeared in Ancient Egypt by 4000 BC along with stringed instruments such as the lyre. The Hittites of modern day Turkey created the earliest form of the guitar by 1500 BC, leading to the development of the violin and harpsichord.
By 700 BC there are records of songs being written for vocals with instrumental accompaniment - here is the seed from which modern music has sprung.
Music as a Science
The Ancient Greeks had an intense passion for music, and their societal structure permitted them to develop and cultivate incredible artistic skill. They performed, competed, and wrote about music - Pythagorus (yes, the same one that gave us all headaches in geometry class) dissected music as a science and introduced what we now call the octave scale. Aristotle wrote on music theory, and in 350 BC he created a new method of notation. 800 years later, the Greek system of notation reached Western Europe, allowing musicians there to accurately record their native folk songs. Over the next five centuries, music notation progressed as conservatories spread across Europe.
"The patterns in music and all the arts
are the keys to learning."
Music for Leisure
By 1465, the printing press was being used to print music. This revolutionized the speed with which it could be shared; prior to printing, copying music was labor intensive and slow, and was usually done by monks preserving sacred music. Secular music flourished in this new Baroque Period of musical experimentation and innovation. The Concerto, Symphony, and Opera styles were invented, and the piano was introduced as a alternative to the harpsichord, and chamber music became increasingly popular.
Music at Home
The nineteenth century saw a great societal shift; the decline of the aristocracy meant that composers had to make money by selling their compositions rather than relying upon employment by the upper class. This led to enormous amounts of chamber music compositions - over 2000 string quartets were published between 1770 and 1800 alone, setting a frantic pace that continued through the next century. These compositions were performed for in-house entertainment and as amateur music societies sprung up across Europe, public performance by the common folk created a thriving market for small ensemble arrangements of pop and folk tunes, piano works, symphonies, and opera arias.
"In its beginnings, music was
merely chamber music,
meant to be listened to in a small
space by a small audience."
Music as a Profession
The popularity of amateur musicianship led to a few rising stars. These performers were met at their concerts by ecstatic crowds who swooned as they played - the rock stars of the nineteenth century. While chamber music became old hat, solo performances became an societal obsession. Around this same time, the introduction of recording devices made the sharing of these performances possible and with the growth in popularity of radio, music was made available for the masses without them ever needing to attend a live performance.
Music is still studied, as it was by the Ancient Greeks. Its ability to evoke emotion and affect behavior has been carefully utilized by every major industry; but while music constantly surrounds us, the average consumer is slow to use its remarkable power but sparingly for a few key events.
"When a performance is in progress, all four of us together enter a zone of magic somewhere between our music stands and become a conduit, messenger, and missionary," says Arnold Steinhardt of the renowned Guarneri String Quartet. It is this very magic that still draws people to live performances en mass - a palpable magnetism that can not be bottled and sold in a recording.
Christie Becker is a professional violinist and owner of Christie Becker Violin, where she specializes in creating her client's perfect memories. For more information, or to work with Christie on your unique event, visit www.christiebeckerviolin.com.