For centuries music has been one of the most widely accepted forms of entertainment in the world. Music is an ancient art that has taken different forms since its inception. With the obvious exception that music differs from culture to culture, it has been that, universally, music brings upon a positive effect on people. It relaxes you in your most stressful moment and helps you celebrate the beauty of it in your happiest moment. Music has been used as a medium to relay messages, fight wars, gain power and even increase popularity. The art has undergone a number of changes since it was first introduced, but one of the most significant of those was the gender shift.
At the time when music became an extremely popular form of expressing oneself, it was meant only for the elite and, more particularly, elite men. That was about to change. Back in the 15th century, Renaissance music was the major form of the art. At that point in time, seeing women listening to music was a rare sight and women music composers was an even rarer sight. The Renaissance Period lasted from 1400 to 1600 and the most music was based on religion, and since religious leaders at the time held negative notions about women, women composers did not flourish. Following this period was the period of Baroque music. This lasted from 1600 to 1750 and once again the output by female music composers were stringently limited. Music was one of the several fields men dominated and the unequal treatment of women in this regard still continued.
The next two periods, the Classical and Romantic periods, saw a lot more women enter the area of music and produce their work for public consumption. Some of the popular artists during the Classical period were Harriett Abrams, Maria Teresa Agnesi, and Princess Anna Amalia, and during the Romantic period were Maria Szymanowska, Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann. The 20th century witnessed a major breakthrough of women music artists and some of them even went on to dominate the field in the 21st century. With the advent of electronic instruments and microphone system, music started to spread to even the smallest areas in the world. There were several women musicians in the 20th century who set the beacon for more individuals of the same gender to join and flourish in this field of entertainment. Katherine Hoover, Joan Tower, and Jennifer Higdon were a few among that many that inspired women to achieve their musical dreams during the 20th century.
The 20th century also saw the rise of several bands which women were a part of, girl groups, and a number of new genres like punk, metal rock, and jazz. At the far end of the 20th century, along with the beginning of the 21st century, women started becoming bandleaders and the main vocalist of various bands. The number of girl groups rose and more women started pursuing music as their sole career.
There haven’t been more women who are a part of the music industry than there is today. Even though gender inequality is still prevalent in the field, it has significantly come down from how it was a century ago. The gender stereotypes are slowly getting broken. As a result, more and more institutes of music are offering a wide range of courses that benefit women too.
The Mumbai Music Institute offers several music courses in Mumbai and we receive a large number of applications from women especially. The world is changing. Gender disparities are becoming a thing past in a number of professions and the music industry too is on the same path. It is inspiring to see women become some of the most successful people in the field and it is certain that we are bound to see much more from them in the coming years.