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Rulers of Music
Rulers of Music
Rulers of Music

Rulers of Music

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12" Wooden Ruler made in U.S.A. of American-grown basswood.

This ruler is a list of Great Composers. Does this mean that we think composers are the only great musicians? Of course not. Maybe someday we’ll make a Rulers of Music - Great Instrumentalists or a Rulers of Music - Great Singers … or maybe a Rulers of Music - Great Conductors.

Music certainly started with the human voice. Music consisting of a single sung line, as composed by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), is known as monophony.  Renaissance composers like Josquin des Près (1450-1521), also written “des Prez”, added more lines of music consisting of different notes and rhythms, a style known as polyphony.  Baroque composers like Henry Purcell (1659-1695) in England and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) in Germany wrote lines of music that were performed simultaneously but using different notes, a style called homophony. Although our list of composers is largely limited to writers in the Western tradition, many of them, like Bela Bartók (1881-1945) were influenced by folk music from all over the globe.

The dates listed are the years of each composer’s birth and death, if known. We have furthermore identified each one with their nationality (or nationalities, in a few cases).

The “head” image is that of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1872), one of the greats, who continued to compose, and whose composition continued to evolve, even after he apparently suffered significant hearing loss late in life. Our illustration is loosely based on an 1820 portrait by Josef Karl Stieler (1781-1858), now on display in the Beethoven House Museum in Bonn, Germany, Beethoven’s birthplace.

If you like this ruler, you might also be interested in Great Women Rulers of Music, Rulers of the Opera or Rulers of Jazz.