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Music Then now - A Brief History of Music and Woodwind Instruments

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Music encompasses us. It is a mainstay of our society and is inherent in the souls of our beings. Even in utero you are able to that the fetus can respond to music how the mother plays or sings. Music are available in just about every environment around us: calming or happy music in restaurants, grocery stores, doctor/dentist offices, department stores, elevators, schools, or weddings; majestic music at firework displays or parades; as well as serene music at the funeral. It can be heard on virtually every television commercial along with the theme of every television show. Some people crave music as being a drug and just cannot live without it playing in the vehicle and even singing in the shower.

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Every person has the opportunity to produce music whether vocally or with a music instrument. We may not all have accurate intonation or pitch vocally or may well not produce a great sound as a result of difference in how we process auditory information, as Simon Cowell so blatantly suggests on "American Idol", but we now have the capability of producing music. With a few coaching or instruction, like most of the cast members of the television show "Glee" as reported by Emile Menasche', we are able to deliver a powerful vocal performance.

As time passes, music has developed into an extensively large number of categories and subclasses. These could include classical, jazz, blues, swing, symphony, opera, rock, rap/hip-hop, country, folk, pop, R n B, theatre, heavy metal and rock, Latin, techno, tango, children's, electronic, Native American, inspirational, marching band, gospel, romantic, melancholy, or spiritual. Most of these types of music came about as a part of modifications in the structure and performance of our cultures.

Music also serves to become therapeutic. From my own experience as an occupational therapist, music helps persons using a range of different disabilities to improve function whether it could be for communication or movement purposes. By way of example, in working with persons that have sustained a stroke and possess expressive aphasia (able to understand language, but can not formulate the words to verbally express it), singing lets them say what they want simply because this involves a different section of the brain. In working with kids with autism spectrum disorders, I have discovered music helps develop more coordinated movement and motor planning because it provides the timing and rhythm these children are not able to access in their brain. Any music instrument can be therapeutic, whether it is woodwind instruments, brass instruments, or string instruments, or simply dancing to music.

But location did woodwind instruments originate? When we look back in history we might find out what the first woodwind instruments were. However, since the late Curt Sachs so intelligently highlights, music originates to pre-instrumental music and primitive man. He states that "all higher creatures express emotion by motion" eg. stamping his foot on a lawn, slapping his body, or clapping his hands. These audible actions were the precursors to our first woodwind instruments and most likely man was not even consciously mindful of sound as a separate idea.

Through archeological findings, the 1st true music instrument noted in history was the strung rattle which was comprised of nutshells, seeds, teeth, or bones strung in cords or tied in bunches and suspended from the part of the body (ankle, knee, waist, or neck) as a technique of adding sound to body movements or dancing. However, this is a delayed sound after the body movement. Later, the sound became more direct, although not exact, as gourd rattles stuffed with pebbles or small hard objects were shaken in tribal dances. From that point, other more direct sounding instruments were developed which used feet or hands to make sounds eg. stampers (used stamping sticks or devices to produce sound on board or bark covering hole in ground), slit-drums (stamping on worthless tree trunk more than a pit), drums (used hands or later stays with hit membrane stretched over opening of hollow body of the shape), friction instruments (by using a tortoise shell or rounded little bit of hard wood with four notches cut into it and rubbing it on palms to produce a humming or squeaking noise), bull roarers (quickly whirling a thin board attached to a cord overhead making a roaring sound), and scrapers (scraping a notched stick, shell, bone, or gourd which has a hard object).

The ribbon reed was the first simple music instrument being played with the mouth such as the woodwind instruments. This was merely a blade of grass extracted from a reed stretched between the two thumbs held side by side by blowing into the crack the blade would vibrate having a high pitched screeching noise (what child hasn't done this even today?). More developed civilizations retracted a wide blade of grass spirally to create a funnel tube together with the thin end with the blade crossing top of the opening. Eventually, the flute originated which was played like most other woodwind instruments: by blowing into the air column in the tube a vibration is made and produced a specific tone. Flutes and also other reed woodwind instruments have been played since Middle Ages (476-1400) and Renaissance period (1400-1600) since they have undergone various adjustments to design, however, orchestral woodwind instruments are of more recent origin.

The Baroque period (1600-1750) is noted for its radical revolution in music using the need for novelty inside the style of composition. There were an emphasis on strong emotion ("What passion cannot music raise and quell" sung by Dryden) requiring a wide range of sound to express passion and also the sudden changes from joy to grief. The same as the Middle Ages, the monodic kind of singular parts being emphasized returned to music versus the polyphonic style of the Renaissance period by which equal weight was given to all the string, brass, or woodwind instruments took part in concert. To achieve this sound, woodwind instruments underwent various improvements and alterations. As opposed to being made from one piece of wood or other material, we were holding now made of two or more pieces fitting tightly together to be able to regulate pitch by adjusting the gap. Reed woodwind instruments changed the cut of reed and the bore was changed for a smoother tone. Oboe-like instruments were dismissed simply bassoons, smaller oboes, and flutes composed the woodwind instruments associated with an orchestra.

Romanticism (1750-1900) created additional transformations for woodwind instruments, although the musical style was similar to the 16th century. The expressive emotional music created a significant increase in the amount of timbres and woodwind instruments were changed in order to modulate from timbre to timbre with greater ease through a variety of technical enhancements. Woodwind instruments was required to have a stronger, more robust sound in concurrence to society's differ from an aristocratic to democratic culture. Overall, the arts evolved from aristocratic reserve to unrestrained passion. To advance the woodwind instruments to meet the changing musical style, technical changes were created for improved musical flexibility, fluency of tonalities, accuracy of pitch, and freer modulation. Inclusion of keys, position of holes, key placement, key mechanisms, key padding, and sizes of bores were altered. This created extremely effective woodwind instruments that were simpler to play and maneuver from the ranges. The woodwind instruments section of an orchestra now included not only the oboe, flute, and bassoon, but also the saxophone and clarinet. Families of woodwind instruments were also created eg. soprano, alto, tenor, baritone to boost the melodies and harmonies and make up a fuller sound.

The twentieth century brought about many radical alterations in musical styles for example jazz, swing, pop, and rock. However, besides the introduction of electric instruments (eg. piano, organ, stringed instruments), the volume of changes to woodwind instruments were not as great. Woodwind instruments from the twenty first century today still retain their prototype in the nineteenth century, but sometimes be made from different metals, their mouthpieces are made of differing lengths/widths and reed sizes, and several persons prefer varying colors because of their woodwind instruments.

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