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Origins of Music

Origins of Music

Music is a nearly universal human expression. Like visual arts, its origin can be traced to the very earliest prehistory of man. It has been theorized that the human voice served as the very first musical instrument, which was probably followed by the creation of rhythm instruments, including both hand clapping and various percussive instruments.

Archaeologists suggest that music arose among humans in the Paleolithic era, possibly arising from the rhythmic sounds generated from pounding seeds or roots. Flutes were also developed during human prehistory. The oldest known flute was discovered in Slovenia in 1995, and dated to approximately 43,000 years ago. The Divje Babe flute was created from a femur bone of a cave bear. Other bone flutes have been discovered in caves across Europe, including a five-holed flute discovered near Ulm, Germany, in 2008.

A cache of bone flutes unearthed in China in 1986 was dated to approximately 6000 BCE. These flutes were made from the bones of a crane, and could play scales from ancient Chinese musical systems. One of the flutes was still playable.

The ancient Egyptians were known to have integrated music into their culture. Tomb paintings from the Old Kingdom period (2575-2134 BCE) show harps, flutes, and clarinet-type reed instruments in existence. Percussion and lutes were added to Egyptian culture by the Middle Kingdom period.

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