Music has an impact on all our lives whether we like it or not but how did it affect the lives of our ancestors?
Well music has always been around in one form or another for thousands of years. In Germany a flute was found which using carbon dating was aged at between 42,000 and 43,000 years old. So music has really always been around even if just through the tweet of a bird or the roar of a dinosaur. Maybe the T-Rex’s had a roar band! Wonder if they sang we love to boogie, sorry.
Church organs would probably be the music most of our ancestors were most exposed to. Every Sunday since the first organs appeared since the 900’s they would have heard them played.
Most churches wouldn’t have had an organ on such a grand scale but most of the larger churches would have had one of some form. So our ancestors would have been mainly exposed to religious music. In later years the organists may have started playing no religious music as well. I have an article from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent in 1867 which mentions a concert my Great Great Grandfather Frederick Staton and his brother William played a piano recital in. Frederick was 17 years old and went on to become the organist at Worksop Priory.
Over the years those of the higher classes or those who were servants would have been exposed to music from the lute and flute to drums and harp.
By the Victorian era most people would have had access to a music hall as most large towns had them. They would be vast halls where travelling groups would play. These music hall developed in the 19th century and soon the songs became more risky and there would have been more of a celebration/fun feel to them than in the previous years when you would have worn your Sunday best and sat quietly and listened.
Everything changed in 1877 when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph which meant people could have purchased music in their own home. They could buy a record and play what they wanted. It was still probably classical music, but at least you could stay at home. From here music when through a revolution. Musicians could be in one country but sell their music worldwide. Not only that but singers could record their songs and they could gain worldwide popularity. It was in 1895 when the Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba had her first recorded album.
Music stay either classical or easy listening until the 1950’s with the likes of Elvis Presley releasing his first hit Heartbreak hotel and by 1957 he had released Jailhouse Rock which was so different from anything that had be around before. Can you imagine what it was like for the different generations of our ancestors? The older family members would have been appalled at the music whereas the younger one would have been so relieved that a musical revolution was starting.
So from here the music changed drastically. There was the Beatles, the Who and the Rolling Stones in the 1960’s. The 1970’s gave use Black Sabbath, Bob Seager and Alice Cooper. The 1980’s gave use the best music ever with everything from Bryan Adams, Jonny Hates Jazz, Duran Duran and so many others and music has just kept on developing to where it is today.
It’s not all pop and rock though. Classical is still around but in different ways. Most films have fantastic music scores from the likes of the great John Williams with the Indian Jones film and Jurassic Park to John Barry with the theme to James Bond. Also pop groups use orchestras in their hits. One of my favourites is Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. The use of the orchestra just lifts the song to another level.
So I’ll leave you with this comment from a member of my family to the younger members when they asked for Olly Murs to be played and the reply was “What is an Olly Murs?” So nothing changes, each generation feels their music is better than the one before, but all are relevant as they have had an impact on our ancestors and help you get a feel for what the heard and we can listen to the same music as they did.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!