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Of the eastern Mediterranean cultures, it was undoubtedly that of the Greeks that furnished the most direct link with the musical development of western Europe, by way of the Romans, who defeated them but adopted much of Greek culture intact.
Entering historical times relatively late, circa 1000 , the Greeks soon dominated their neighbours and absorbed many elements of earlier cultures, which they modified and combined into an enlightened and sophisticated civilization.
It is not surprising that church musicians, after years of singing traditional chants, should want to express themselves by adding words to vocalized melodies.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.The diatonic (seven-note) scale, for example, became the standard, displacing the chromatic and enharmonic structures of the Grecian system.Of particular consequence was the new concept of metre as a series of equal durations, with emphasis being determined by accent (stress) rather than by duration.
Among the speculations about its origin, the more plausible are that it began as a primitive form of communication, that it grew out of a device to expedite communal labour, or that it originated as a powerful adjunct to religious ceremonies.