last update: 16 October 2020

In 2000 the worldwide record industry was worth $28 billion, whereas the global video games market was worth 'only' $36 billion.

For 2019 the total revenues for the global
recorded music market grew by 8.2% to $20.2 billion, with streaming services representing 56% of global revenues (that's with 341 million paying subscribers). In 2019 the US revenues from streaming music accounted for 80% of all recorded music revenues (physical distribution only accounted for 10%, and digital downloads only 8%).

The 2020 global
video games market is worth about $160 billion, and grew last year at over 9%. Of that $77 billion is mobile gaming on phones and tablets, whereas consoles represented $45 billion and PC-based gaming $37 billion. There are 2.7 billion game players, with 1.5 billion players in the Asia-Pacific region.

live music industry was worth only $1.7 billion in 2000, but had grown to $7 billion by 2015, and was expected to exceed $25 billion by 2023. As an example, the 50-cities 2018 tour of Ed Sheeran aggregated an audiences of close to 5 million people and pulled in $432 million. Major DJ's on "electronic dance music" events can earn $50 million annually, and Ibiza noted that for 2019 clubbers contributed $500 million to the islands economy.

classical music market was worth about $384 million in 2018, however sales stagnated. On the bright side classical music streaming was up 46% and worth over $140 million.


Music is a really difficult area. In part because it is such a complex subject, and in part because I want to mix it with my own personal preferences in music. My tastes are probably typical of anyone who was a teenager in the UK in the 1960's.

So I want to learn a bit more about music in all its forms (with a focus on quiz-show
trivia), and at the same time I want to relive my likes, and dislikes, etc. (without being overly nostalgic).

As usual Wikipedia is my starting point, and immediately we have our first set of high-level topics.

Music as an art form, which includes a mix of sounds and silences, including pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, metre, and articulation), dynamics (sound intensity, loudness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture (sometimes called colour).
Supporting music as an art form is
music theory, including the basic elements of music (such as pitch, scales and modes, consonance and dissonance, rhythm, melody, chord, harmony, timbre, dynamics, articulation, texture, duration, and formal structure), the need to understand music notation, and musicology. Music theory can be a practical discipline since it also involves the methods and concepts that composers and musicians use in creating music.
language of music is based upon sounds and articulation, as distinguished by pitches or rhythms. As a reminder tonal languages (spoken) use pitch to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning to help distinguish words. And there are also a number of whistled languages.
formal structure is the structure of a musical composition or performance, and includes the way musical units such as rhythm, melody, harmony are used repeatedly, or with variations, to create musical sections, the arrangement of the instruments, and in some cases the orchestration.

In the minds of many
music as a cultural activity is all about popular music based on commercial aesthetics, produced by a music industry and primarily mass distributed. This is a world of production and distribution on a global scale, sourcing material, labour, services, etc. across borders with little or no attachment to particular places. For many this process has eroded distinct local identities, creating a homogenised global 'airport' culture. Others think that the process has created hybrid or 'third space' cultures, and some see music as a single global culture that now pays little attention to nationality. Another perspective is that of folk and traditional music rooted in people's heritage and identity, but which now can access global production, marketing and distribution networks.
Perhaps a better way to look at things is to replace "
music as culture" with a focus on the people involved, i.e. "music is their culture". Those people who write songs, tunes, symphonies,…, and those who play instruments as soloists, in groups, in orchestras,… There are people who record music in studios or in their bedrooms, and there are those who perform live in concerts or even in the street. There are people who use music as part of their performance, e.g. musical theatre, opera, dance, rock concerts, disc jockeys, etc. Music can be an important part in religious rituals and the "rite of passage" ceremonies (graduation, marriage,…). And there are those who use music to create social activities (e.g. dancing, karaoke, community choir,…). Accepting that "music is their culture" means that music can become the culture also of the listener, and even a direct expression of "who they are". So music preferences are expressions of personal and cultural values, and sharing music preferences can create strong social bonds between people and communities.

Music can be broken down into a large number of styles and types, i.e. different music genre. Wikipedia offers a starting division with art music, popular music, sacred music and traditional and folk music.
Art music exists in many parts of the world, but in Europe it's called "classical music" and it can be broken down in to several periods, e.g. Renaissance, Romantic, Modernism, etc.
popular music,
sacred music
traditional and folk music.

Vocal pieces (
a cappella without instrumental accompaniment)
Instrumental pieces (without discernible vocals)
Popular music
Traditional music,
Religious music
Work songs
Country music
Hard rock
Heavy metal

Music includes a variety of vocal techniques (from singing to rapping) and the use of a vast range of musical instruments.
Wikipedia has a
list of musical instruments, which includes 335 different percussion instruments, 149 different woodwind instruments, 62 types of brass instruments, 394 string instruments, and 35 electronic instruments. Some sources suggest that there are over 1,500 different types of musical instruments.

Music ranges from strictly organized compositions (and their reproduction in performance) through improvisational music to aleatoric pieces. Music can be divided into genres and subgenres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to individual interpretation, and occasionally controversial. Within "the arts", music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art, and auditory art.

And finally, music is also an industry, a market and commercial or business sector, and includes:-
People who create new songs and musical pieces (such as songwriters, lyricists and composers)
People who perform music (which include orchestra,
jazz band and rock band musicians, singers, conductors, bandleaders, all forms of concerts, etc.)
People who record music (
record producer and audio engineer) and run music libraries
People who teach and provide
music lessons
People who sell recordings,
sheet music, and scores to customers (e.g. music publishers, record labels .
People who deal with
copyright, music licensing, performing rights, and those work in performance rights organisations (including royalty payments,…)
People who are
music critics, music journalists, and music scholars.
Professional musicians are employed by a range of institutions and organisations, including armed forces (in marching bands, concert bands and popular music groups), religious organisations, symphony orchestras, broadcasting or film production companies, and music schools. Professional musicians also sometimes work as freelancers or session musicians.

And of course there are the amateurs who perform in a variety of ensembles such as community
concert bands and community orchestras, and not forgetting the whole world that comes under home recording and bedroom production.

A distinction is often made between music performed for a live audience and music that is performed in a studio so that it can be
recorded and distributed through the music retail system or the broadcasting system.

Music is the motivation behind those who make and sell sheet music,
musical instruments, and music creation software, recording studio hardware and production software (i.e. everyone and everything involved with digital music technology).

And not forgetting those who run
nightclubs, disco clubs and organise concert tours

The industry also includes a range of professionals who assist singers and musicians with their music careers (talent managers, artists and repertoire managers, business managers, entertainment lawyers); those who broadcast audio or video music content (satellite, Internet radio stations, broadcast radio and TV stations); music journalists and music critics; DJs; music educators and teachers; musical instrument manufacturers; as well as many others.

those that help organize and present
live music performances (sound engineers, booking agents, promoters, music venues, road crew).

Music is associated with a variety of 'technologies' (in addition to instruments), including musical notation, sheet music, the phonograph, music videos, online music stores,…

Basic definitions

Just running though the above introduction it is evident that the field of music is going to be inundated with specialist words and expressions, with detailed terminology, and with highly esoteric concepts. So the below short list of basic definitions is just scratching the surface.

In fact according to Wikipedia it is not easy to
define the term music, but I can live with "the art of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion". Some experts suggest "organised noises", whilst others suggest that this definition should only be for noises that were not disturbing or unpleasant,

Auditory attributes of musical tones (a steady periodic sound) include:-

Musical tones, as shown below left, can be 'pure' (i.e. a sinusoidal waveform), or a 'complex' mix of two or more pure tones.

Waveforms Pitch

Pitch, as shown above right, is a quality that makes a sound 'higher' or 'lower', so its a frequency-based scale.

Duration is the just the time a note or phrase or composition lasts.

Intensity or loudness is the subjective impression of sound pressure. Sound intensity is related to the amplitude of the waveforms we can see above, and intensity drops off according to the inverse-square law.

Timbre is often called tone quality or tone colour, and it's what defines the difference between different musical instruments (including also a singers voice), e.g. the same note played on a tuning fork, clarinet, or trumpet sound are very different.

Timbres Instruments

However timbre is not just a waveform measured in a laboratory. In fact timbre is used by us to recognise and classify music, voice and ambient noise, but more importantly for music it provides critical acoustic cues for conveying musical emotion. Adjectives are used a lot to try to describe timbre perception for sounds having the same loudness and pitch, e.g. often used examples include comparing loudness and 'sharpness', degrees of roughness (as a measure of texture), or 'richness', all associated with more complex waveforms. This can be highly subjective because people can use different terms (rich, deep, full, warm, mellow,…) to mean more or less the same thing. One often used comparison is 'bright-dark', in part because they offer quite clear opposites and because 'bright' correlates well with sharp and pure, whilst 'dark' correlates well with vigorous and coarse. It also sounds to me that it's related to the 'chiaroscuro' of the Italian 'bel canto' where the aim to create a sound that is 'bright' but full of 'depth' (so for a singer the aim is a bright ringing 'head voice' sound mixed with a darker 'chest voice' resonance).


Above we have a cropped diagram just focusing on some Western orchestral instruments and with 'dark' (left) and 'bright' (right) on a scale from about -2 (dark) to +4 (bright). Some experts might consider vigorous as being a better adjective than dark.