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Origin and Early Forms of Music

Singing and the Use of Songs in Worship

Table of Contents

Music has its origin from the sound produced from animate and inanimate objects: humans, animals, and plants inclusive.

The origin of music could be traced to the production of speech, human communication, work rhythms, play rhythms, clapping, mimicries, singing, human sound, the roaring of waves or oceans, blacksmiths, harmer, and anvil, and environmental sounds.

There are myths or legends connected to music in every locality or culture around the world. Some could believe that music was given to them by the spirits or was created a certain legend in their family.


People in the early times made use of drums, rocks, and sticks as instruments of music. Music was used for many community functions, including religious ceremonies. There was no notation of music but sounds were conveyed from one part of the world to the other. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, the Chinese, Arabs and the Africans produced music in different ways.

The Egyptians:

In 4000 BCE, the Egyptians had harps and flutes for religious and secular activities. Music is part of Egyptian culture. In Biblical times, the ancient Hebrew,  while in Egypt,  played some musical instruments, like the harp, lyre, and the ram horn (trumpet-like instrument).

The Greek:

Music of the Greek was associated with mathematics and knowledge. Pythagoras the Mathematician developed the octave scale. In 350 BCE, Aristotle wrote on music theory scientifically. Boethius in 521 BCE brought the Greece system of notation to Western Europe enabling musicians to write accurately the folk songs of their land. He was the first to write an opera idea.


Music was a part of Roman culture from the earliest times. Music was customary at funerals, and tibia a type of woodwind instrument was played at sacrifices to ward off bad influences. Choir songs were used at secular games in 17 BC. The first music school in Europe started in Rome in 600CE. The Catholic Church created music for use in church services


Arabs music is unique and alive and has a history of interaction with many other regional musical theories of the Greeks.


Africans use music and playing of percussion instruments in everyday lives, farming, cooking, ceremonies, etc.

The black slaves in the United States sang their folk songs and indigenous songs, on the farm or religious activities. The fusion of African tones and Western scale formed the basis of jazz music.

Africans use music for the coronation of Kings, to ward off diseases, during warfare, etc. For Africans, music is life.

Music transforms society and its impact is great in relaying messages to the audience. From ancient times to the modern and contemporary world, music has evolved in different cultures with beautiful sounds and genres, so pleasant to our ears.


  1. Discuss any genre of music that you have heard or familiar with.
  2. Mention a few musicians who have unique music and have used their music or songs to influence the community positively.

For example, Fuji Music has its origin from the production of speech sound or Quranic lines from the recitation of Arabic words in the Yoruba language by the Imams and clerics. Early performances of this type of music drew their inspiration from such rhythmic sound, they added few instruments to it and thus evolved Fuji and Awurebe music.

Musicians and some of the performers include Dr. Ayinde late  Barrister Killington Ayinla, Salawa Abeni, Wasiu Ayinde Barrister(KWAMI).



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