Throughout the early days of organized music, there was an air of mystery that surrounded the phenomenon of note-making. This aura painted the minds of men and women alike for centuries. I would like to try on their shoes, if you would, and see for myself what people thought about music, and how it affected their lives. In a few words, I hope to uncover the uses of music, the political affluence on music, and finally the religious aspects surrounding music.
Music is invasive. Music finds its way into any part of our lives that it can. A few of these that still survive today. Imagine if you will, walking through the bustling streets of Rome, and suddenly you hear a trumpet fanfare ringing through the air. In as little as a moment, the people around you are alerted to the passersby that are the Roman officials. In the distance you hear the ringing of the church bells announcing that Mass is about to begin. On the street corner you hear a begger, dancing and shaking a tambourine for food. These and more are a part of your daily life.
A wide range of emotions accompanies music for you, and your fellow citizens. In one venue, you are petrified at the sight of the Emperor. In another you are filled with joy for the start of a church service. As you watch the begger play for food, your heart fills with sadness. These are the emotions that follow music, and hence your life.
In the court, there would be music on command for the royalty, pleasing tunes played for only the elite. This music would be commanded of a performer, not asked or paid for. It is almost the act of juicing a lemon, and when the desired portion is gone, the rind is simply tossed aside.
Music, as you can tell, was a way to convey emotion. Uses in the early Roman Empire included, but not limited to, funerals, courts, public entertainment, religious ceremonies, celebrations, days or mourning, festivals, and more.
Music was such a powerful motivator that, in some instances, leaders of nations changed their allegiance after hearing it. In one instance, Pepin the Short was joined by Pope Stephen II as he traveled throughout the Frankish kingdom. Upon hearing the Roman liturgy, coupled with Roman chant, he ordered it used throughout his kingdom. In fact, Roman chant was viewed as a unifying tool throughout the Roman Empire as a way to create a stable and uniform environment.
As you can tell, music had a large impact on several facets of life, it shaped history, and it aided thousands in the worship of their deity. This influence affects us to this day.