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Relativity In Music
By Steven Joseph McCrystal
There’s something to be said about good old-fashioned music. Its intoxicating rhythms must have been moving humanity for millennia. We can only imagine the primal sound created early man, and women of course - from the first animalistic drum beats, to the more modern electronic blips, beeps and booms, music has travelled through time with humanity, and it has evolved in the process (except for Oasis). I can almost imagine a prehistoric top twenty, echoing through the ages: one that had our ancestors dancing wildly around the newly discovered element called fire. I ask you to imagine the sights - and the sounds - as we wander back through history to when the first musical instrument was played.
What type of music would we find at this point in history?
Maybe nature’s music was so spellbinding that early man just had to capture the songs he heard echoing from the nearby trees, so that he could call them his own. One assumption could be that mankind mimicked nature for the purposes of hunting. Another might be that music was used to scare off neighbouring tribes – have shield, have spear, have drum. I don’t really know about all this guesswork, but I’m willing to bet music’s tenacious beats have been making us dance from the dawn of human consciousness.
I often wonder what it would be like to travel back in time with a gramophone or an eighties style ghetto blaster for that matter. In fact, an IPod would just about do the job but finding a single track in amongst all that data would be a chore. If I did manage to slip backwards through time I could easily indulge myself and prematurely evolve humanity’s taste in music. I can just about imagine prehistoric man pounding out Madonna’s Get Into the Groove whilst the girls invent a new dance craze to go with it.
It could also be argued that music is a universal language and I’d hope that prehistoric man would be absolutely thrilled with my attempt to communicate with them through music. I’m sure that any modern tunes played by any discerning time traveller would appease any prehistoric grunts, groans and grumbles. Maybe some swinging hits from the fifties like: Rock Around the Clock by Bill Hailey and his Comets or Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis. Or even something slightly more surreal like: The Spiders from Mars by David Bowie. I truly believe that every tribe would have a favourite tune that they could call their own.
Whichever way you look at music we seem to have developed an unparalleled connection to it from a very early point in our evolution. If you type into Google: what’s the earliest musical instrument known to man. A surprisingly delicate handmade flute pops up as mankind’s first man made tool to produce a tune. According to archaeologists the first flute was made some forty three thousand years ago. However, we’d still need to build a time machine to be sure it wasn’t the drums that came first, but I’m willing to wager that the bongos were in the adjacent cave to where the flutes were found. Homo sapiens must have really let all of their hair down as they boogied to some subliminal flute music back in the day. I can just imagine those fur clad, flute playing, fire dancing, mammoth eating sapiens banging out the nightingales song around the camp fire. Maybe even Auld Lang Syne if they were Scottish.
If you could take a selection of musical instruments back in time what would they be?
What little piece of inspiration would you take back to ancient times: the guitar, the harpsichord, the piano, the lute, the bongos, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and would all those instruments sound like a cacophony of noise or ambrosia for the ears? In all honesty I have no idea what those instrumental sounds would sound like to the uninitiated Neanderthal? Do you? I imagine that if I went travelling back in time with Handel’s messiah blaring out my ghetto blaster I might be considered to be like a god. I would be the god of the sound storm but I may just be pushing my luck a tiny little bit with the classical music DJ set. In fact, some classical music even sounds like thunder and lightning to the untrained ear. How scary would that be to our distant ancestor: Homo erectus musicus? If I’m honest with you some classical music even frightens me - all those crashing symbols and deep rumbling drums definitely get the heart pounding. The question is: would classical music subdue the masses surrounding the crackling campfire or insight a cultural riot?
So what if the tribe didn’t like the music you had to offer? Maybe classical music wouldn’t work with Homo erectus musicus but there’s always pop; ballads, rock, indie, folk, hymns, brass, opera and many more genres from throughout earth’s history to choose from. I’m sure that music’s talent for getting under your skin would have something to say about who it inspired to dance. Personally, I would be absolutely crestfallen if I took my favourite desert island discs back in time and the tribe didn’t dance to my top ten tunes. Of course, my favourite music is underground techno, trance, and progressive house so I might be struggling to impress the natives because dance music isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Even if it did change the world we live in today.
When I look back over the history of music I see ripples in time. In my few short years on this planet I’ve heard music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s. I’ve heard funk, soul, blues, rock, punk, mod, ska, jive, pop and Elvis. I’ve even had a dance with classical music but please don’t tell anyone I enjoyed it. In my mind music has always been in a permanent state of flux since its conception approximately forty three thousand years ago. Now I come to think of it, if I did have a time machine to call my own, I think what I’d really like to do is go back and listen to the very first note that was played all those years ago because that single note would be truly inspirational.
#Real #Music #History #Genres #Essay
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