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Because of the prohibition of Jewish religious law against the making of “graven images,” there are very few surviving artifacts or pictures.
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.
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.
A systematic organization of tonal materials also was gradually accomplished, resulting in the eight church modes.
Each melody was assigned a specific function in the services of the liturgical year—some for the mass and some for the divine offices such as matins, vespers, and compline.
As a result, the Greek political and social systems were intertwined with music, which had a primary role in the , the former referring to all cultural and intellectual studies, as distinguished from those related to physical training.
It is not surprising that church musicians, after years of singing traditional chants, should want to express themselves by adding words to vocalized melodies.When the musical culture of the eastern Mediterranean was transplanted into the western Mediterranean by the returning Roman legions, it was inevitably modified by local tastes and traditions.In most cases, the resulting practices were more limited than their models.The 6th-century-Pythagoras was the first to record the vibratory ratios that established the series of notes still used in Western music.From the total gamut of notes used were derived the various modes bearing the names of Grecian tribes—Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, etc.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.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.But the mainstream of church music was the type of chant practiced in Rome.Beginning in the late 6th century, according to tradition, with Pope Gregory I, the vast number of traditional melodies that became the foundation for the later development of Western art music were codified and organized.An inventory of the musical heritage transplanted from the ancient East (particularly Greece) to Rome reveals the rich treasure inherited: an acoustical theory that accounted for the identification and classification of tones; a concept of tonal organization resulting in the system of modes; principles of rhythmic organization; basic principles of instrument construction; a system of Christian church, but it was not a unified process.Many of the cultural centres of the Western church developed distinctive characteristics while sharing the common heritage of the Hebrew liturgy and Greek culture.