When Was Music First Written down?
No one is certain when music was first written down. We do know, however, that the ancient Greeks wrote music with the letters of their alphabet. In the 9th century, dots and dashes were written over the words of a song. These signs, called neumes, indicated whether the melody should go up or down.
A 10th century Italian monk, Guido d’Arezzo, introduced the four-line staff, and named the first six notes of the scale: do, re, me, fa, sol, and la. By the 1600s, the notes had become round, and musical notation came to look the way it does today. This innovation has affected almost every modern vocalist.
In 1100 CE, a new secular movement began. This separation of Church from music was a straddling one, and soon this new “folk” music was looked down upon as pagan and borderline blasphemous.
Musical notation has been invented and re-invented several times, and has since gone through a rapid and accelerating process of evolution. From basic indications of a simple song line going higher and lower, the complexity of musical notation has grown so that it can now specify in detail all the music for a 100-strong symphony orchestra and chorus.