When was music notation discovered? And who discovered it?

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Musical notation exists and has existed in various iterations across many cultures and periods of history. The earliest known system of musical notation comes from the 1400s BCE in Mesopotamia. It consists of diatonic scales written in cuneiform on clay tablets. This system appears to have been refined and formalized...

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Musical notation exists and has existed in various iterations across many cultures and periods of history. The earliest known system of musical notation comes from the 1400s BCE in Mesopotamia. It consists of diatonic scales written in cuneiform on clay tablets. This system appears to have been refined and formalized over later centuries. Fragments containing musical notations have also been found in Greece and date back to at least the 500s BCE.

Arguably the system of musical notation that eventually gave rise to the common ones used today has its roots in the ninth century CE. It was during this time that musicians in European monasteries began using neumatic notation. This took the form of using symbols, or neumes, to record melodies and notes for monastic chants. While it is unclear who exactly invented this system, it is possible that it originated with the music theorist Aurelian of Réôme. This Frankish musician combined medieval musical styles with classical Greek music theory. However, the musical notation from this period requires the musician to be somewhat familiar with the works already.

Something resembling modern staff notation came about during the eleventh century CE. It may have been developed by the Benedictine monk Guido d'Arezzo. His goal was to standardize hymns and liturgy so that they could easily be taught across Catholic Europe.

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