The music of the ancients. Primeval music
The origin of the word “music” is known to everyone: from the Greek “art of muses.” But the question of how this type of art arose was controversial in the last century and the beginning of our century. Some researchers were inclined to believe that music was born from a word excited by human speech; others attributed its origins to the singing of birds and the voices of animals; others saw its beginning in the rhythmic work of people, magic spells, etc.
It is difficult for us to imagine the music of primitive people. After all, then there was no written language and no one could record neither the words of the songs, nor their sounds. We can get the most general idea of this music partly from the surviving traces of the lives of people of those distant times (for example, from cave paintings and cave paintings), and partly from observations of the life of some modern peoples who have preserved a primitive way of life. So we learn that even at the dawn of human society, music played an important role in people’s lives.
To date, scientists, based on new data from archaeological and ethnographic studies, have come to the conclusion that in a primitive society the formation of music was very slow, it was not the kind of art that we now define this word. The music of the ancients cannot be separated from their daily lives. Women lulled children, humming softly; the shepherds called the flock with the sounds of horns; rhythmic cries helped fishermen pull the nets and the boat to land; the terrifying exclamations of the soldiers terrified the enemies. The sad funeral rite was accompanied by lamentations (even now professional mourners have been preserved in some places). The return of the warriors was celebrated with victory by a solemn feast with dancing, singing, beating the rhythm with palms, patting echoed and ringing objects. These funny sounds, noise dissonance raised the mood of people, emphasizing the festivity, the significance of the event. Music, its rhythm, metrics, melody, even alternation and repetition of tunes, singing had a strong emotional impact on a person, could make him cry or have fun, work hard or bravely fight the enemy.
Music entered the games of primitive people as an indispensable component. She was inseparable from the words of songs, from movements, from dancing. In the games of primitive people, the rudiments of various types of art – poetry, music, dance, theatrical action – were merged into a single whole, which later became separate and began to develop independently. Such non-dissected (syncretic) art, rather like a game, has survived in our days among tribes living in a primitive communal system. In ancient music there was a lot of imitation of the sounds of life around. Gradually, people learned to select musical sounds from a huge number of sounds and noises, learned to understand their relationship in height and duration, their relationship with each other.
Rhythm before other musical elements was developed in the primitive musical art. And there is nothing surprising, because rhythm is inherent in the very nature of man. Primitive music helped people find the rhythm in work. Melodically monotonous and simple, this music was at the same time surprisingly complex and rhythmically diverse. The singers emphasized the rhythm with punches or trampling: this is the oldest form of singing with accompaniment. Compared to the music of primitive society, the music of ancient civilizations stood at an immeasurably higher stage of development. Bas-reliefs on the ruins of Assyrian temples, Egyptian frescoes and other monuments of ancient times have preserved for us images of musicians. But what exactly the musicians played, what the singers sang about, we can only guess about this.
We cannot imagine exactly what kind of music it was: after all, even the musical art of the ancient Greeks is known mainly by description. We judge primitive music by archaeological finds (various whistles, bones with holes, shells), and cave paintings. Some idea of the music of our distant ancestors is given by the so-called syncretic (i.e., undivided, closely connected with the practical life processes of society) art of modern tribes living even according to the laws of the primitive community.
Over time, music began to take on more stable forms, its own laws were developed, the logic of constructing melodies, the use of certain rhythms. From a huge number of sounds and noises, people learned to select musical sounds, were aware of their relationship in height and duration, their relationship with each other. Improved and primitive tools. A variety of African tribes still have a sounding bow, huge drums from a hollow tree trunk, small drums from a dried pumpkin, the simplest flutes, horns, shells – prototypes of modern string, percussion, wind instruments.
Music acquires independence much later – during the period of decomposition of the primitive communal system, when gradually the artistic activity of a person is separated from the practical.