mid-13c., musike, "a pleasing succession of sounds or combinations of sounds; the science of combining sounds in rhythmic, melodic, and (later) harmonic order," from Old French musique (12c.) and directly from Latin musica "the art of music," also including poetry (also source of Spanish musica, Italian musica, Old High German mosica, German Musik, Dutch muziek, Danish musik), from Greek mousikē (technē) "(art) of the Muses," from fem. of mousikos "pertaining to the Muses; musical; educated," from Mousa "Muse" (see muse (n.)).
The modern spelling is from 1630s. In classical Greece, any art in which the Muses presided, but especially music and lyric poetry.
Music is the sound of the universal laws promulgated. [Thoreau]
The use of letters to denote music pitch probably is at least as old as ancient Greece, as their numbering system was ill-suited to the job. Natural scales begin at C (not A) because in ancient times the minor mode was more often used than the major one, and the natural minor scale begins at A.
Meaning "the written or printed score of a composition" is from 1650s.
Music box is from 1773, originally "barrel organ," by 1845 in reference to the wind-up mechanical device; music hall is by 1842 as "interior space used for musical performances," especially "public hall licensed for musical entertainment" (1857). To face the music "accept the consequences" is from 1850; the exact image is uncertain, one theory ties it to stage performers, another to cavalry horses having to be taught to stay calm while the regimental band plays. To make (beautiful) music with someone "have sexual intercourse" is from 1967.
"music of the people," 1852 (Andrew Hamilton, "Sixteen Months in the Danish Isles"), from folk in the "of the people" sense (also see folklore) + music. Modeled on German Volksmusik. In reference to a branch of modern popular music imitative of the simple and artless style of music originating among the common people (originally associated with Greenwich Village in New York City) it dates from 1958.
Of airs properly national, it should be remembered, the composers are not known. They are found existing among the people, who are ignorant of their origin. They are, to borrow a German phrase, folk-music. [Richard Grant White, "National Hymns," New York, 1861]
The term National Music implies that music, which, appertaining to a nation or tribe, whose individual emotions and passions it expresses, exhibits certain peculiarities more or less characteristic, which distinguish it from the music of any other nation or tribe.*
* The Germans call it Volksmusik, a designation which is very appropriate, and which I should have rendered folk-music, had this word been admissible. [Carl Engel, "An Introduction to the Study of National Music," London, 1866]
early 15c., "pertaining to music;" mid-15c., "tuneful, harmonious;" late 15c., "adept at making music," from Medieval Latin musicalis, from Latin musica (see music). Related: Musically. Musical box is from 1829. Children's or parlor game musical chairs is attested from 1862, hence use of musical as a modifier meaning "changing rapidly from one to another possessor" (1924).
Instrumental and vocal music, the quadrille and country-dance, occupy a portion of the time. No waltzing is however permitted. After dancing, round games follow, as Terza, "The Post," Musical Chairs, Cross Questions, all tending to amuse and promote exercise, until the partial extinguishing of the gas, at ten p.m., gives warning of approaching bedtime. [The Rev. R. Wodrow Thomson, "Ben Rhydding, the Asclepia of England," 1862]
In mid-19c. makers of musical boxes also advertised musical chairs, "playing beautiful tunes simply by the weight of the person sitting in them."
"to dance to popular music with a strong beat," 1948 (in song title "We're gonna rock"), from rock (v.1) in an earlier blues slang sense of "cause to move with musical rhythm" (1922); often used at first with sexual overtones, as in the 1922 song title "My Man Rocks Me (with One Steady Roll)". The sense developed in early 1950s to "play or dance to rock and roll music." Also see rock (n.2). Related: Rocked; rocking.
In reference to music, by 1938 as "to have a rocking rhythm;" by 1977 as "exhibit the characteristics of rock music." To rock out "enjoy oneself to rock music" is by 1968. Rocksteady, Jamaican pop music style (precursor of reggae), is attested from 1969.