International Year of Sound 2020-2021

Sound and Society

Sound is omnipresent in our lives. Some sounds are useful, some are enjoyable. Some sounds are intrusive, some are hazardous


Inside the Musikverein, a noted concert hall in Vienna
The Divje Babe flute.

Music is a major part of society. Music is composed and performed for many purposes, including listening pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Orchestral performances in ornate concert halls, street performers busking in a public square, background music in an elevator, church choirs singing, music groups playing the blues or reggae or rap, and so on — music pervades our lives in many different ways.

Music can be traced back to prehistoric times. The Divje Babe flute, shown at the left, was carved from a cave bear femur at least 40,000 years ago. Instruments have been recovered from archaeological sites in the Indus Valley, in India, in China, and elsewhere. One of the oldest surviving notated works of music is the “Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal”, found on clay tablets that date back to approximately 1400 BC.

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