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Among the established practices of the temple service still current in the synagogue are the extensive use of the shofar (a ritualistic ram’s-horn trumpet) and the singing of passages from the Torah (Pentateuch; the first five books of the Bible), prayers, and songs of praise.Of the eastern Mediterranean cultures, it was undoubtedly that of the Greeks that furnished the most direct link with the musical development of western Europe, by way of the Romans, who defeated them but adopted much of Greek culture intact.In most cases, the resulting practices were more limited than their models.The diatonic (seven-note) scale, for example, became the standard, displacing the chromatic and enharmonic structures of the Grecian system.The musical culture of the and documented primarily in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), was more directly influential in the West because of its adoption and adaptation into the Christian liturgy.Because of the prohibition of Jewish religious law against the making of “graven images,” there are very few surviving artifacts or pictures.To support its fundamental role in society, an intricate scientific rationale of music evolved, encompassing tuning, instruments, modes (melodic formulas based on certain scales), and rhythms.
Music was effectively used on the film set to improve an actor’s performance. Egyptians, entering historical times about 500 years later than the Mesopotamians, enjoyed all of the same types of activities and instruments, as may be deduced from numerous written references to music as well as seen on many artifacts, especially the pictures preserved on pottery utensils.In every case musical sounds were an adjunct either to bodily movement (dance, march, game, or work) or to song.Many centuries were to pass before pleasure in euphonious sound became an end in itself.From the total gamut of notes used were derived the various modes bearing the names of Grecian tribes—Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, etc.The rhythmic system, deriving from poetry, was based on long–short relationships rather than strong–weak accentual metre.
After Pythagoras, Aristoxenus was the major historian and theoretician of Greek music.