For all practical purposes, the story of music can not begin until the Christian era in the earliest days of the Middle Ages. Not that music didn't exist in earlier times, but it was in every instance an improvised affair leaving little or no trace for the musicologist to recreate.

For the Ancients, Durant postulates instrumental music was created to accentuate the rhythm of dance and procession. The hypnotic effect often achieved from rhythmic pattern and dance quickly associated music with the religious and ceremonial. In Mesopotamia, Gilgamesh's return triumphantly from the Cedar Forest was without doubt accompanied by a musical procession.

There is also evidence that music as a "diversion" or pure entertainment also begins to appear in the palaces of the social elite. In Egypt a day's work would be rewarded with soft music played in the background on such instruments as lutes, harps, sistrums, flutes and lyres. The Pharaoh's staff included a "superintendent of singing" whose job it was to organize palace entertainment for the king.

Since notation had not been developed (in a exclusively improvised style none was even considered), we are left today without an ability to recreate their music tradition. Eventually, any attempt to do so becomes one more of fantasy than of scholarship, and so no music excerpt can be included.