From Prehistory to Present Day
Prehistoric music (previously primitive music) is a term in the history of music for all music produced in preliterate cultures (prehistory), beginning somewhere in very late geological history. Prehistoric music is followed by ancient music in different parts of the world, but still exists in isolated areas.
The first composers probably did not consider themselves composers as we think of them today. They composed as a way of glorifying God, often in the context of monasteries, such as that at Cluny in the eleventh century.
With the Renaissance came a shift in music's centre of gravity in Europe. The great new bastions of culture were not the monasteries of northern France but rather the city states of Italy. Music now depended on the patronage of various dukes and princes.
With opera — perhaps the single most important development of the Baroque period - secular music finally acquired a form that was sufficiently popular, expressive, and large-scale to tip the balance of patronage away from the church to the princely courts, and eventually to the general public.
The Classical period in Western music occurred from about 1750 to 1825, despite considerable overlap at both ends with preceding and following periods, as is true for all musical eras. Although the term classical music is used as a blanket term meaning all kinds of music in this tradition, it can also occasionally mean this particular era within that tradition.