How to Learn Music History

The history of music goes hand-in-hand with the history of the world, politics, fashion, art, war, and changing socioeconomic climates. Music history encompasses musical eras and the styles that defined them, as well as important composers and their works. It teaches performers the appropriate manner of playing for varying musical works, based on the piece’s composer and date of publication. Whether you’re a serious music student, an aspiring composer, the casual music hobbyist, or even just a concert lover, the study of music history is an integral part of appreciating the art form.

Step 1 Start with a general book on music history that with all the major time periods — from Ancient Greece to contemporary music. Listen to the musical examples of each time period.

Step 2 Learn about specific composers and how their music influenced others. Listen to their music and delve into the techniques that made the music important. Become familiar with the names of the most important composers of each time period.

Step 3 Enroll in a course at a local community college or university.

Step 4 Read a textbook that chronicles the history of music from the beginning. Recognize that often in music history, earlier topics underlay the significance of later events. Composers often find influence by innovations from a previous period of music.

Step 5 Return to areas that are unclear. Look for additional resources and references to get a deeper knowledge of the subject.

Study with a partner to help quiz and check your knowledge. Listen to musical examples daily until they are familiar.


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