March 2, 2024

About the Author: Urpi

Urpi teaches vocals at S&C singing in Dubai and loves helping her students excel and become the best singers they can be!

In the process of developing your talent artistically, it is very important to be curious about the art you are learning. Curiosity must be present from the beginning and increase over time as it would let you investigate and learn more, love more, and increase your passion for what you are doing.

In the case of singing, previously, we have talked about the Vocal System and how the singing voice is emitted, and now you may have more questions about singing, you may be curious and wonder when humans started singing or when it started to be considered as an art. We get you, here, we will tell you about the origins of singing. So, let’s travel in time and let’s get situated in primitive times.

Ancient tribe playing music instruments

The Voice as the First Instrument

Some historians claim that singing in primitive times was a higher form of language and that it existed before spoken language, just as it exists in other species, for example, in birds. The truth is singing was born with humans ourselves, with our first vocal expression as the larynx, commonly called the throat, is said to be the first musical instrument of humanity.

As soon as ancient cultures discovered this instrument, they believed that singing and music had been created by gods resulting in the beginning of the development of this mesmerising art as the interest in it started to grow in people.

In this way, singing became a tool for spiritual connection.

As it responded to the needs of religions and aesthetics naturally conditioned by different languages, different ways of emitting the voice in terms of nasalization and artificial elevation of the larynx in the Middle Eastern and Western cultures emerged.
In Egypt or Babylon, for example, singing was practised in cult ceremonies, processions and celebrations.

Two ancient greek women with harps and tambourine playing music

Homophone Singing in the Wonderful Greece

In Mediterranean antiquity, the art of singing had an influence on rhetoric. For instance, in Greece, speeches had to be delivered in a certain tone. As well as that, for Greek tragedy and comedy, trained singers were needed who, along with the drama offered sung sections.

Then, in the 8th century of the Christian era, singing began to be accompanied by a special instrument called Kithara. Lullabies, wedding songs, funeral songs and songs mostly dedicated to the God Apollo occupied an important place in the life of the Greeks.

As singing developed further in Greek society, it began to be considered an art worthy of study. Great philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle affirmed that singing was an important means of education and in order to be well educated, people needed to study it, in other words practice of singing was seen as a sign of high status.

Moreover, the principal trait of singing in those times was that in the choirs of the Greek theatre, all the voices sang the same melody, which is called homophony. This homophone singing, also sung in unison and in different octaves, continued until the first millennium of the Christian era.

Ancient greek music culture

Pre-Polyphonic Singing the Amazing Rome

As the Romans were vastly influenced by the Greeks, they also cultivated the art of singing, and they even took the next step in the development of this art.

Although there was a time in which Romans saw singing more as a pleasure and entertaining form of art rather than a tool for spiritual connection, historians found that in the times of Emperor Neron, singing was at its peak as the Emperor was a great lover of this art and promoted it throughout the empire giving it back its respect as an art worthy of study

During the Roman Empire, singing started to be studied so deeply that students required three types of teachers; the “vociferaii” to strengthen the voice, the “phonasci” to regulate the volume and the “vocals” for the tuning, modulation and perfection of singing.

Even though the Romans knew certain musical parameters such as melody, rhythm, expression, modulation and instrumentation they did not have the knowledge of singing in harmony yet.

Nonetheless, the seeds for polyphonic singing were set. So, stay tuned as the history of singing continues, and at S&C Music we will gladly tell you more about it.

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