Where did music theory originate from?

Where did music theory originate from? How intricately is music linked with nature? 

                                                                                                                   Gagan Malhotra

Music theory definitely did not originate after the advent of human intelligence. The fact remains that music was prevalent ever since there was sound; it was always there for humans to discover and not as something that we invented. Picture the cry of a bird, the sound of a gushing waterfall, or the sound of wind pining in the tree; this is music at its rawest and most natural essence. The only thing we invented was the language or the theoretical context through which could read music, also called the notations or music theory as a whole. On the other hand, we seem to have derived this theoretical aspect of music from nature as well. 

Check out this article we wrote on the evolution of music

music and nature

To understand how intricately connected the concept of music theory and nature is, let us take the example of rhythm, which was essentially one of the first musical concepts that we as humans started exploring through drumming. Rhythm as a concept essentially presents an undulating beat or “time”, according to which a song flows. The rhythm has a particular tempo or speed as well. How many aspects in nature fit into this definition of rhythm? Well, aspects such as a beating heart, the rising and setting of the sun, the seasons, all are based on essential natural rhythms which we have learnt to understand, comprehend and reproduce in the form of music. In a way, music is an expression of these natural rhythms through us human beings.

Another ardent example that can be considered in this case is the inherent prevalence of the golden ratio in music. On one hand, the golden ratio is the ratio between two numbers of the Fibonacci sequence. Essentially speaking, the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio are the two most widely found mathematical patterns in nature. It comes as no surprise when we observe that musical theory also has large incidences of the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio. This is especially observed while taking into consideration the concept of octaves and scales in instruments like the guitar and the keyboard. If any of you wants to get into the technical aspects of the same, do check out the links in the further tripping section.

Further Tripping…

Learn about the technical aspects of how the Fibonacci sequence plays an important role in musical theory

Read about how music could have been a creation of animals rather than humans

About Ashwin Ramesh

Check Also

Comparative movie reviews of two courtroom drama movies - Pink and Wrong Side Raju

Pink vs Wrong Side Raju: Comparative movie reviews

Last week I happened to watch two movies which can be loosely categorized as courtroom …

Leave a Reply