A history by Howard Goodall< read all 1 reviews
But where Goodall and his subject really come to life are in tracing the early history of music. The technical explanations of what music sounded like before recording and how and why it sounded the way it did are deeply fascinating. We often say a person can read music as if musical notation were a single universal language and as if reading musical notation was the same as making music. After reading Goodall (even if you can't read music) you will start to see and hear the difference--it was centuries after humans were making music (20,000 year old cave paintings show musicians playing flutes) that we figured out how to write it down.
And the why is equally interesting. Much of the early musical innovation was driven by worship music--David's Psalms name musical instruments and gives their purpose as making a "joyful noise" into God (he must have known about my future drum playing), and Martin Luther adopted and adapted popular secular tunes with worshipful lyrics because he wanted his congregation to worship actively not just listen passively.
So if you want to learn about the distinctions between the numerous shadings of musical genres on your iPad, this probably isn't the place to end up, but it might be a good (and enjoyable) place to start.
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