The study relating to the history of music is also known as historical musicology. This study primarily focuses on the life and history of the concerned artists, the formation of genre and style, the role of music over the society, group or individuals. The essential methodologies used in historical musicology research incorporate the study of paleography, philology, historiography, iconography and musical analysis.
Depending on the time scale, the discussion regarding history of music can be divided into six eras.
In the context of history of music, medieval era is considered as the most elongated period spanning through 800-1400C.E). The medieval music was significantly different compared to the modern times. During the time of Pope Saint Gregory (590 - 640 C.E), a huge collection of musical chants had been developed, which was eventually known as "Gregorian chant" - a music truly monophonic by nature and in pure forms of melody.
Renaissance period (1400-1600C.E), the period essentially distinguished by the rebirth of humanism and cultural rejuvenation, put its landmark in all shapes of art incorporating music as well. The remarkable specialty engrossed this era was the inclusion of polyphonic styleof music in essence with the music of Byrd, Palestrina and Lassus. However, sacred music were still prevalent in society, the polyphonic pattern deeply encapsulated the holy music including secular madrigals, where masses and motets used to be in primary shapes of holy vocal polyphonic music.
This phase put their influence on history of music between 1600 to 1750C.E. As the term implies, baroque is used to refer incongruity, unusual and profligacy, employed only during 20th century to identify the era in musical history. This period was characterized by the ornamental natureof music along with its lavish texture and intensity in using highly bejeweled melodic line. The specialty had been observed in extreme use of rigid forms of imitative polyphonic style known as cannons and fugues.
The duration of classical era only lasted for 70 years (1750-1820C.E); however, quite significant changes were prevalent during this time frame. Primarily dominated by homophonic style, the classical period integrated new styles of composition including popular instrumental music like sonata. During the transitional phase from the Baroque period to Classical one, Rococo, originally developed in France, became very popular.
This phase (1850-1920C.E) was particularly important to the history of music due to its artistic freedom, expression, experimentation and creativity. Blessed with versatile performers like Liszt, this phase used to incorporate different popular styles such as symphonic poems, art songs and virtuoso in addition to the critical emphasis consigned on the text or symbolic interpretation inscribed within the scripture.
A time of rebellion and freestyle, the 20th century music primarily consists of atonality, expressionism, neo-romanticism and neo-classicism in association with the essence of nationalism. Technological intervention, abstract ideologies and recreation of existing style and form make this phase unique from the rest of the phases in the history of music.