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

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Music envelopes us. It is a mainstay in our society and is built into the souls in our beings. Even in utero it is said that the fetus is able to respond to music the mother plays or sings. Music are located in just about every environment around us: calming or happy music in restaurants, food markets, doctor/dentist offices, department stores, elevators, schools, or weddings; majestic music at firework displays or parades; or even serene music with a funeral. It can be heard on virtually every television commercial as well as in the theme of each television show. Some people crave music as being a drug and just cannot do without it playing in a car and even singing inside the shower.

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Every person has the opportunity to produce music whether vocally or using a music instrument. We may not all have accurate intonation or pitch vocally or might not exactly produce a great sound due to a difference in how we process auditory information, as Simon Cowell so blatantly points out on "American Idol", but we've the capability of producing music. By incorporating coaching or instruction, like many of the cast members of the tv screen show "Glee" as reported by Emile Menasche', we can easily deliver a powerful vocal performance.

Over time, music has developed into an extensively large various 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, Latin, techno, tango, children's, electronic, Native American, inspirational, marching band, gospel, romantic, melancholy, or spiritual. These types of types of music came about as a part of the modifications in the structure and performance of our cultures.

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

But where and when did woodwind instruments originate? As we look back in history we could find out what the first woodwind instruments were. However, since the late Curt Sachs so intelligently suggests, music originates returning to pre-instrumental music and primitive man. According to him 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 the first woodwind instruments and quite a few likely man had not been even consciously mindful of sound as a separate idea.

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

The ribbon reed was the 1st simple music instrument to be played with the mouth just like the woodwind instruments. This was just a blade of grass removed from a reed stretched between the two thumbs held side by side through blowing into the crack the blade would vibrate which has a high pitched screeching noise (what youngster hasn't done this even today?). More developed civilizations rolled up a wide blade of grass spirally to make a funnel tube together with the thin end with the blade crossing the upper opening. Eventually, the flute was made which was played similar to other woodwind instruments: by blowing in the air column in the tube a vibration was made and produced a unique tone. Flutes and also other reed woodwind instruments have been played since Middle Ages (476-1400) and Renaissance period (1400-1600) as they have undergone various modifications in design, however, orchestral woodwind instruments have more recent origin.

The Baroque period (1600-1750) is noted for its radical revolution in music with all the need for novelty from the style of composition. There was an emphasis on strong emotion ("What passion cannot music raise and quell" sung by Dryden) requiring a variety of sound to express passion along with the sudden changes from joy to grief. Just as the Middle Ages, the monodic style of singular parts being emphasized returned to music versus the polyphonic style of the Renaissance period through which equal weight was handed to all the string, brass, or woodwind instruments took part in concert. To achieve this sound, woodwind instruments underwent a variety of improvements and alterations. As an alternative to being made from one wood or other material, we were holding now made of 2 or more pieces fitting tightly together to be able to regulate pitch by adjusting the space. Reed woodwind instruments changed the cut of reed as well as the bore was changed for the smoother tone. Oboe-like instruments were dismissed in support of bassoons, smaller oboes, and flutes constructed the woodwind instruments of an orchestra.

Romanticism (1750-1900) created additional transformations for woodwind instruments, although musical style was similar to the 16th century. The expressive emotional music created a significant increase in the quantity of timbres and woodwind instruments were changed to be able to modulate from timbre to timbre with greater ease through a variety of technical enhancements. Woodwind instruments were required to have a stronger, stronger sound in concurrence to society's differ from an aristocratic to democratic culture. Overall, the humanities evolved from aristocratic reserve to unrestrained passion. To advance the woodwind instruments to satisfy the changing musical style, technical changes were made for improved musical flexibility, fluency of tonalities, accuracy of pitch, and freer modulation. Addition of keys, position of holes, key placement, key mechanisms, key padding, and sizes of bores were altered. This created more effective woodwind instruments that were simpler to play and maneuver over the ranges. The woodwind instruments part 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 improve the melodies and harmonies and create a fuller sound.

The 20 th century brought about many radical changes in musical styles including jazz, swing, pop, and rock. However, aside from the introduction of electric instruments (eg. piano, organ, stringed instruments), the volume of changes to woodwind instruments weren't as great. Woodwind instruments inside the twenty first century today still retain their prototype of the nineteenth century, but can be made from different metals, their mouthpieces are made from differing lengths/widths and reed sizes, and several persons prefer varying colors for woodwind instruments.

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