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No one knows when, but at some time very long ago, people got the idea of making music themselves. They found that with music they could express their feelings as well as make sounds that were pleasant to hear.

Rhythm, melody, and harmony are important parts of music today. Rhythm and melody are much older than harmony. Rhythm is the accent, or beat, in the flow of sound. Melody is the tunefulness. Harmony has to do with1 the sounding of different notes at the same time.

The first music was vocal. People began singing simple melodies as they worked and played. The best songs were not written down but were remembered and handed down from one generation to another.

Music came to be so important in the lives of the people of long ago that formal music was bound to appear. Formal music is music that has been specially composed for some purpose. The composer writes the music down in some way. No one can tell when and where music was first composed and written down. But we do know that the Greeks wrote music with the letters of their alphabet. Writing in notes like those of today came much later.

All early composed music was for voices. Early songs were sung in unison; everyone, that is2, sang the same melody. When composers began composing songs, they began adding other melodies to the main melody. Such writing for different parts, or voices, became known as "polyphonic" music - music of many sounds.

Much of the work of early European composers was sacred music3 for the church. But there were also gay songs. Some of them were called "madrigals". Songs people made up as they worked or played came to be called folk songs4.

Writing music for instruments began about 400 years ago. Violins and keyboard instruments5 became popular. From that time on people developed many kinds of compositions. Many different groups were formed to perform them. There came to be choirs, opera companies, string quarters, symphony orchestras, and many others besides. But of course not all the music composed was for groups. Great soloists appeared - singers, violinists, pianists, cellists, and so on.

Music is sometimes called a universal language. In music there are no barriers that there are with spoken languages. A composer who cannot speak a single word of our language can still make us feel joy and pride, exaltation and despair, peace and mystery through his music.


1) What are important parts of music?

2) What is formal music?

3) When did writing music for instruments begin?

4) Why is music called a universal language?


1. has to do with - имеет отношение к

2. that is - то есть

3. sacred music - духовная музыка

4. folk songs - народные песни

5. keyboard instruments - клавишные инструменты

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