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Music is an art form, and a cultural activity, whose medium is sound. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture (which are sometimes termed the "color" of a musical sound). Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces (such as songs without instrumental accompaniment) and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; "art of the Muses"). See glossary of musical terminology.

In its most general form, the activities describing music as an art form or cultural activity include the creation of works of music (songs, tunes, symphonies, and so on), the criticism of music, the study of the history of music, and the aesthetic examination of music. Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers defined music in two parts: melodies, as tones ordered horizontally, and harmonies as tones ordered vertically. Common sayings such as "the harmony of the spheres" and "it is music to my ears" point to the notion that music is often ordered and pleasant to listen to. However, 20th-century composer John Cage thought that any sound can be music, saying, for example, "There is no noise, only sound."

The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Indeed, throughout history, some new forms or styles of music have been criticized as "not being music", including Beethoven's Grosse Fuge string quartet in 1825, early jazz in the beginning of the 1900s and hardcore punk in the 1980s. There are many types of music, including popular music, traditional music, art music, music written for religious ceremonies and work songs such as chanteys. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions—such as Classical music symphonies from the 1700s and 1800s—through to spontaneously played improvisational music such as jazz, and avant-garde styles of chance-based contemporary music from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Music can be divided into genres (e.g., country music) and genres can be further divided into subgenres (e.g., country blues and pop country are two of the many country subgenres), although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to personal interpretation, and occasionally controversial. For example, it can be hard to draw the line between some early 1980s hard rock and heavy metal. Within the arts, music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art or as an auditory art. Music may be played or sung and heard live at a rock concert or orchestra performance, heard live as part of a dramatic work (a music theater show or opera), or it may be recorded and listened to on a radio, MP3 player, CD player, smartphone or as film score or TV show.

In many cultures, music is an important part of people's way of life, as it plays a key role in religious rituals, rite of passage ceremonies (e.g., graduation and marriage), social activities (e.g., dancing) and cultural activities ranging from amateur karaoke singing to playing in an amateur funk band or singing in a community choir. People may make music as a hobby, like a teen playing cello in a youth orchestra, or work as a professional musician or singer. The music industry includes the individuals who create new songs and musical pieces (such as songwriters and composers), individuals who perform music (which include orchestra, jazz band and rock band musicians, singers and conductors), individuals who record music (music producers and sound engineers), individuals who organize concert tours, and individuals who sell recordings, sheet music, and scores to customers. Even once a song or piece has been performed, music critics, music journalists, and music scholars may assess and evaluate the piece and its performance.

Music Media

103,157 media by topicpage 1 of 1032
Dude sweet music, superb costumes.

Dude sweet music, superb costumes.

Harry Montague's Comedy Company. Forms part of: Theatrical poster collection (Library of Congress)

Pelike (Storage Jar)
Dancing Bes alongside seated group of musicians
Terracotta kylix (drinking cup), drinking vessel, terracota
Oval Cosmetic Box Lid with a Man Being Entertained by a Lyrist
Figure of Goddess of Music and Poetry, Song dynasty
Vessel Depicting a Sacrificial Ceremony for a Royal Accession
Figure of Goddess of Music and Poetry, Song dynasty
Music from BL Harley 334, f. 25v

Music from BL Harley 334, f. 25v

Detail of a miniature of a man playing a portable organ, with a harp lying beside him. Image taken from f. 25v of Image du Monde (Le livre de clergie en roumans) (index Mappe Monde). Written in French.

Manuscript Leaf with Foliated Initial P, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Foliated Initial A, from an Antiphonary
Madonna: Mary holding the Christ-child, with two angels making music
Angels making music; a vine
Music from BL Eg 3307, f. 10

Music from BL Eg 3307, f. 10

Music. Image taken from f. 10 of Music and carols for Holy Week (begins and ends imperfectly). Written in Latin, French, and English.

Hymns with music from BL Royal 5 F VII, f. 85

Hymns with music from BL Royal 5 F VII, f. 85

Music to Kyrie Eleison and St Godric's Hymns. Image taken from f. 85 of Epistola and Apologia. Written in Latin.

Men and woman in a boat, drinking and making music
music from "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in connection with the calendar ... Edited by R. Chambers.]"

music from "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in ...

This image has been taken from scan 000539 from volume 01 of "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in connection with the calendar ... Edited by R. Chambers.]". The title and subject terms of ... More

[Musicerend gezelschap in een gondel]
Music notation from BL Harley 978, ff. 8v-9

Music notation from BL Harley 978, ff. 8v-9

Musical notation on stave with stave-high coloured capitals. Image taken from ff. 8v-9 of Musical, medical and literary miscellany, 'Sumer is icumen in', Fables and Lays of Marie de France (index Fables de Mari... More

Initial and music from BL Harley 110, f. 1v

Initial and music from BL Harley 110, f. 1v

Initial and musical notation in Anglo-Saxon neumes. Image taken from f. 1v of Leaves from a Gradual. Written in Latin.

music from "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in connection with the calendar ... Edited by R. Chambers.]"

music from "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in ...

This image has been taken from scan 000540 from volume 01 of "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in connection with the calendar ... Edited by R. Chambers.]". The title and subject terms of ... More

music from "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in connection with the calendar ... Edited by R. Chambers.]"

music from "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in ...

This image has been taken from scan 000564 from volume 01 of "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in connection with the calendar ... Edited by R. Chambers.]". The title and subject terms of ... More

Decorated initials and music from BL Stowe 71, ff. 1v-2

Decorated initials and music from BL Stowe 71, ff. 1v-2

Decorated initials and music in a fragment of a Missal for Quinquagesima Image taken from ff. 1v-2 of Fragment of a Missal with antiphons and readings for Quinquagesima and Ephiphany (ther proper order is ff. 8... More

music from "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in connection with the calendar ... Edited by R. Chambers.]"

music from "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in ...

This image has been taken from scan 000532 from volume 01 of "[The Book of Days. A miscellany of popular antiquties, in connection with the calendar ... Edited by R. Chambers.]". The title and subject terms of ... More

Music from BL Royal 5 F VII, f. 85

Music from BL Royal 5 F VII, f. 85

Music to Kyrie Eleison and St Godric's Hymns in English. Image taken from f. 85 of Epistola and Apologia. Written in Latin.

Music from BL Arundel 71, f. 9, f. 9v

Music from BL Arundel 71, f. 9, f. 9v

Detail of the last 4 staves of music and an inscription. Image taken from f. 9v of Leaf from a Gradual. Written in Latin.

Madonna: Mary enthroned, holding the Christ-child, with two angels making music
Music from BL Arundel 71, f. 9, f. 9v

Music from BL Arundel 71, f. 9, f. 9v

Page of music on the verso of the folio. Image taken from f. 9v of Leaf from a Gradual. Written in Latin.

Pilaster of Angels Sounding Trumpets from the Parapet of a Pulpit
Gradual, tempera, page of illuminated manuscript
Altar Frontal, 14th century
Auditus sive audire (Hearing or to hear) from BL Royal 6 E VI, f. 160v

Auditus sive audire (Hearing or to hear) from BL Royal 6 E VI, f. 160v

Historiated initial 'A'(t) of a man pointing to a man holding his hands over his ears. Image taken from f. 160v of Omne Bonum (Absolucio-Circumcisio). Written in Latin.

Manuscript Leaf with Initial D, from an Antiphonary
The Genius of Music, bronze
Bord met op het plat een musicerend en dansend gezelschap

Bord met op het plat een musicerend en dansend gezelschap

Bord van aardewerk met vloeiblauw transferdecor. Op het plat een musicerend en dansend gezelschap in een tuin.

Milarepa on Mount Kailash, Himalayan (Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan)
Silk United by Music 合樂圖
Manuscript Leaf with Initial A, from a Gradual
Manuscript Leaf with Initial H, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial T, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial H, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial H, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial H, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial R, from a Gradual
Manuscript Leaf with Initial T, from an Antiphonary
An angel making music
An angel making music
Manuscript Leaf with Initial V, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with the Initial V, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial H, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial O, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial C, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial E, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial O, from an Antiphonary
An angel making music
Manuscript Leaf with Initial R, from an Antiphonary
Manuscript Leaf with Initial S, from a Gradual
An angel making music
Manuscript Leaf with the Feast of Saint Andrew in an Initial M, from an Antiphonary
Frame depicting the Annunciation, Baptism of Christ, Entry into Jerusalem, Saints Cecilia and Catherine of Alexandria, Trinity (Gnadenstuhl, Mercy Seat), and four Music-making Angels

Frame depicting the Annunciation, Baptism of Christ, Entry into Jerusa...

Lijst beschilderd met bovenaan op de fries de verkondiging aan Maria, onderaan op het basement de doop van Christus en de intocht in Jeruzalem. Aan weerszijden de heiligen Cecilia en Catharina en vier andere mu... More

Manuscript Leaf with the Celebration of a Mass in an Initial S, from an Antiphonary
Bifolium with Foliated Initial C, from a Gradual
Maria Lactans; angels crowning and making music
Ranken met dansende figuren, Israhel van Meckenem

Ranken met dansende figuren, Israhel van Meckenem

Mannen in diverse kostuums dansen een moriskendans in de ranken van een stekelige plant. in de vork van de eerste twee takken staat een dame. Aan haar voeten staan een nar en een muzikant; tussen hen in ligt een hondje.

Benedictine Antiphonary, tempera, page of illuminated manuscript
Manuscript Leaf from a Missal
Maria met kind zittend op een troon tussen Petrus en Johannes de Doper met musicerende engelen en drie vrouwelijke heiligen op de achtergrond

Maria met kind zittend op een troon tussen Petrus en Johannes de Doper...

Maria met kind zittend op een troon tussen Petrus of mannelijke heilige en Johannes de Doper. Drie musicerende engelen zitten op trede van troon. Drie vrouwelijke heiligen staan achter de troon.

Maria met kind zittend op een troon tussen Petrus en Johannes de Doper met musicerende engelen en drie vrouwelijke heiligen op de achtergrond

Maria met kind zittend op een troon tussen Petrus en Johannes de Doper...

Maria met kind zittend op een troon tussen Petrus of mannelijke heilige en Johannes de Doper. Drie musicerende engelen zitten op trede van troon. Drie vrouwelijke heiligen staan achter de troon.

Israhel van Meckenem the Younger - The Organ Player and His Wife
Portrait - Montorsoli, Giovanni Angelo, composer
Portrait - Volland, Wolfgang Melchior, composer
Portrait - Solnitz, Anton Wilhelm, composer
Portrait - Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, composer

Portrait - Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, composer

Bildnis Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Portrait - Gibbons, Orlando, composer
Portrait - Zingarelli, Nicola Antonio, composer
Portrait - Battista Siciliano, composer
Breiting, Hermann
Portrait - Britton, Thomas, composer
Erl, Josef
Portrait - Erythräus, Philipp, composer
Danican-Philidor, Francois André
"Bahram Gur in the Dark Palace on Saturday", Folio 207 from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami
Portrait - Shield, William, composer
Portrait - Pepusch, Johann Christoph, composer
Portrait - Johnson, Bartholomew, composer
Portrait - Monsigny, Pierre Alexandre, composer
Portrait - Heinlein, Paul, composer
Wild, Franz
Portrait - Hofmann, Leopold, composer
Portrait - Pleyel, Ignaz, composer
Portrait - Zelter, Karl Friedrich, composer
Las Posadas Procession at the John Muir National Historic Site

Las Posadas Procession at the John Muir National Historic Site

An educational program at the John Muir National Historic Site, in partnership with the Anza Trail and the Spanish Choir of Saint Catherine of Siena, shared the history of Las Posadas. Las Posadas is a Christma... More

Portrait - Leclair, Jean Marie, composer
Portrait - Steffani, Agostino, composer
Portrait - Haffner, Johann Ulrich, composer
Portrait - Durante, Francesco, composer
Danican-Philidor, Francois André
Portrait - Besard, Jean Baptiste, composer
Portrait - Mayr, Giovanni Simone, composer
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