THE SOURCES OF MUSICAL HISTORY
IN GENERAL HISTORICAL RESEARCH TWO MAIN TYPES OF source material are distinguished: material remains and written records. Both types are found in the history of music, but here the written record is more important, especially if the monuments of music, music in notation, are classed as written records.
Musical instruments constitute the most important class of material remains. Other items include pictures and reliefs, as well as buildings used for musical purposes -- temples, concert halls, and opera houses.
The written records include a wide variety of materials such as musical monuments (all music preserved in notation); historical writings of all kinds; general literature; public documents containing vital statistics and other records; private documents, such as letters, diaries, household accounts, and estate records; and newspapers, magazines, and programs. The sources already mentioned are, of course, sometimes supplemented by oral tradition, as in the field of folk music and the Gregorian church music.
Although the sources of information concerning the history of music differ greatly in various periods, musical compositions preserved in some decipherable notation constitute the most important materials for the music of the last thousand years. As we go further back in history, musical monuments