A musician is a person who plays a musical instrument or is musically talented. Anyone who composes, conducts, or performs music is referred to as a musician. A musician who plays a musical instrument is also known as an instrumentalist.
Musicians can specialize in any musical style, and some musicians play in a variety of different styles depending on cultures and background. Examples of a musician's possible skills include performing, conducting, singing, rapping, producing, composing, arranging, and the orchestration of music.
Musicians by era
In the Middle Ages, instrumental musicians performed with soft ensembles inside and loud instruments outdoors. Many European musicians of this time catered to the Roman Catholic Church, and they provided arrangements structured around Gregorian chant structure and Masses from church texts.
- Phillipe de Vitry
- Guillaume Dufay
- Guillaume de Machaut
- Hildegard of Bingen
- John Jenkins
- Beatritz de Dia
- M. S. Subbulakshmi
- Purandara Dasa
- Bhimsen Joshi
- Bismillah Khan
- K. J. Yesudas
Renaissance musicians produced music that could be played during masses in churches and important chapels. Vocal pieces were in Latin—the language of church texts of the time—and typically were Church-polyphonic or "made up of several simultaneous melodies." By the end of the 16th century, however, patronage split among many areas: the Catholic Church, Protestant churches, royal courts, wealthy amateurs, and music printing—all provided income sources for composers.
The Baroque period (about 1600 to 1750) introduced heavy use of counterpoint and basso continuo characteristics. Vocal and instrumental "color" became more important compared with the Renaissance style of music, and emphasized much of the volume, texture and pace of each piece.
Classical music was created by musicians who lived during a time of a rising middle class. Many middle-class inhabitants of France at the time lived under long-time absolute monarchies. Because of this, much of the music was performed in environments that were more constrained compared with the flourishing times of the Renaissance and Baroque eras.
The foundation of Romantic period music coincides with what is often called the age of revolutions, an age of upheavals in political, economic, social, and military traditions. This age included the initial transformations of the Industrial Revolution. A revolutionary energy was also at the core of Romanticism, which quite consciously set out to transform not only the theory and practice of poetry and art, but the common perception of the world. Some major Romantic Period precepts survive, and still affect modern culture.
- Ludwig van Beethoven
- Frédéric Chopin
- Franz Schubert
- Niccolò Paganini
- Franz Liszt
- Charles-Valentin Alkan
- Richard Wagner
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
- Johannes Brahms
- Johann Strauss II
20th to 21st centuries
The world transitioned from 19th-century Romanticism to 20th century Modernism, bringing major musical changes. In 20th-century music, composers and musicians rejected the emotion-dominated Romantic period, and strove to represent the world the way they perceived it. Musicians wrote to be "...objective, while objects existed on their own terms. While past eras concentrated on spirituality, this new period placed emphasis on physicality and things that were concrete."
Health and safety
Musicians are prone to noise-induced hearing loss, which occurs slowly and over a long period of time, and most musicians do not seek help until they start to experience secondary symptoms such as tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ears), distortion of sounds, diplacusis (hearing two different tones when stimulated by a single frequency), and hyperacusis (extreme sensitivity to everyday sounds). In addition, negative health consequences are associated with producing high musical sound levels. Musicians are at increased risk for both musculoskeletal and vocal health problems when producing high sound levels on musical instruments. Increased biomechanical demands, whether at the hands, embouchure, or vocal cords, elevates the risks for occupational health problems like tendonitis, carpal tunnel, rupture of facial muscles, and vocal cord malfunction.
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- Blanning, Tim "The Triumph of Music; The Rise of Composers, Musicians and Their Art" Harvard University Press 2008, ISBN 9780674057098
- "Reducing the risk of hearing disorders among musicians". U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. 2015-07-01. doi:10.26616/NIOSHPUB2015184.
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