Music Then and today – A Brief History of Music and Woodwind Instruments

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Music enters us. It is a mainstay individuals society and is inherent in the souls of our beings. Even in utero it is stated that the fetus is able to respond to music that this mother plays or sings. Music are located in just about every environment around us: calming or happy music in restaurants, grocers, doctor/dentist offices, department stores, elevators, schools, or weddings; majestic music at firework displays or parades; or perhaps serene music in a funeral. It can be heard on nearly all television commercial and in the theme of every television show. Some people crave music as being a drug and just cannot do without it playing in the vehicle and even singing in the shower.

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Every person has the ability to produce music whether vocally or with a music instrument. We may not all have accurate intonation or pitch vocally or may not produce a great sound due to a difference in how we process auditory information, as Simon Cowell so blatantly suggests on “American Idol”, but we’ve got the capability of producing music. By incorporating coaching or instruction, like a lot of the cast members of the tv show “Glee” as reported by Emile Menasche’, we can deliver a powerful vocal performance.

Over time, music has developed into an extensively large variety of categories and subclasses. These can 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. A large number of types of music attended about as a part of the changes in the structure and function of our cultures.

Music also serves to become therapeutic. From my very own experience as an occupational therapist, music helps persons using a range of different disabilities to improve function whether it could possibly be for communication or movement purposes. For instance, 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 simply because this involves a different area of the brain. In working with kids autism spectrum disorders, I’ve found music helps develop more coordinated movement and motor planning as it provides the timing and rhythm that these children are not able to access inside their brain. Any music instrument may also be therapeutic, whether it is woodwind instruments, brass instruments, or string instruments, or maybe even dancing to music.

But location did woodwind instruments originate? When we look back in history we could find out what the first woodwind instruments were. However, since the late Curt Sachs so intelligently highlights, 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 in the grass, slapping his body, or clapping his hands. These audible actions were the precursors to our first woodwind instruments and many likely man wasn’t even consciously aware of sound as a separate idea.

Through archeological findings, the initial true music instrument noted ever sold was the strung rattle which contains 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 method of adding sound to body movements or dancing. However, it was 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 generate sounds eg. stampers (used stamping sticks or devices to generate sound on board or bark covering hole in ground), slit-drums (stamping on useless tree trunk over the pit), drums (used hands or later sticks to hit membrane stretched over opening of hollow body of the shape), friction instruments (using a tortoise shell or rounded part of hard wood with four notches reduce 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 using a hard object).

The ribbon reed was the initial simple music instrument being played with the mouth such as the woodwind instruments. This was only a blade of grass taken from a reed stretched backward and forward thumbs held side by side and by blowing into the crack the blade would vibrate having a high pitched screeching noise (what child hasn’t done this right now?). More developed civilizations retracted a wide blade of grass spirally to create a funnel tube together with the thin end of the blade crossing top of the opening. Eventually, the flute originated which was played like the majority of other woodwind instruments: by blowing in the air column with the tube a vibration is made and produced a specific tone. Flutes along with other reed woodwind instruments have been played considering that the Middle Ages (476-1400) and Renaissance period (1400-1600) while they have undergone various modifications in design, however, orchestral woodwind instruments are of more recent origin.

The Baroque period (1600-1750) is noted for its radical revolution in music with the need for novelty within the style of composition. There is an emphasis on strong emotion (“What passion cannot music raise and quell” sung by Dryden) requiring a variety of sound to express passion and also the sudden changes from joy to grief. Just as the Middle Ages, the monodic style of singular parts being emphasized returned to music compared to the polyphonic style of the Renaissance period through which equal weight was given 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. Instead of being made from one wood or other material, we were holding now made of two or more pieces fitting tightly together to become able to regulate pitch by adjusting the space. Reed woodwind instruments changed the cut of reed and also the bore was changed for any smoother tone. Oboe-like instruments were dismissed and just bassoons, smaller oboes, and flutes constructed the woodwind instruments of the orchestra.

Romanticism (1750-1900) created additional transformations for woodwind instruments, even though the musical style was similar to the 16th century. The expressive emotional music caused 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 were required to have a stronger, stronger sound in concurrence to society’s consist of an aristocratic to democratic culture. Overall, the arts evolved from aristocratic reserve to unrestrained passion. To succeed the woodwind instruments to meet 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 extremely effective woodwind instruments that were simpler to play and maneuver over the ranges. The woodwind instruments area of an orchestra now included not only the oboe, flute, and bassoon, but the saxophone and clarinet. Families of woodwind instruments were also created eg. soprano, alto, tenor, baritone to improve the melodies and harmonies and develop a fuller sound.

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

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