Music Theory : Early Stages in the Development of Music Theories

It is widely believed that music first took form in rhythmic patterns of claps, along with beats and taps, presumably with the use of sticks or stones. Then there was shamanism, and various forms of ethnic religions. Their rituals devised methods of producing sounds by creating drums and rattles, as means of communicating with summoned spirits. Yet as the series of chants and incantations were developed to invoke mystical powers, there were no written forms or notations in place, to use as teaching or learning guides.

As music forms advanced in ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations, several other musical instruments like sistras, lures, flutes, oboes, trumpets, harps and organs were invented. Archaeologists noted that during the 14th century BC in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, musical theory already existed by way of a heptatonic system. Heptatonic refers to a system of producing music using seven different pitches per octave.

Still, the development of classical music is attributed to the ancient Greek civilization, since the octave musical theory was formally established and developed in Greece in 600 BC.

Beginnings of Classical Music Transpired in Ancient Greece

There is strong evidence that classical music came about when renowned Greek mathematician Pythagoras, took to studying music as a science, to which he developed the octave as a foundation of music.

Although many scholars contend that the Mesopotamians and Egyptians were the first to produce music in different pitches, Pythagoras, thru his inquiries and observations made popular the notion that inherent ratios existed between pitches. He went on to establish the music theory that the length, size and or weight of a music-producing element was instrumental in creating a tone that is a pitch higher after a series of eight tones.

The scientific studies of music continued in Ancient Greece, with the likes of Pythagoras, Philodemus, Aristides and Aristoxenus contributing their musical theory about rhythm, harmonics and metre. Compilations of their musical theories went on to influence advancements in the development of music in ancient Rome, by the early Christian churches, and subsequently by medieval composers,