Read these 22 Music History Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Classical Music tips and hundreds of other topics.
The end of the Middle Ages saw the rise of polyphony, the use of more than one melodic line at the same time. With polyphony, it became necessary for measured rhythm. There could no longer be the flexible rhythms of single line music. Noted composers of polyphonic music were Leonin and Perotin, and later, Guillaume de Machaut.
Romantic composers stressed emotion, evoking every imaginable kind of mood. Romanticism came to be closely associated with program music — music inspired by a story, a set of images, or a poetic text. The influence of nationalism figured large in the music of later Romantic composers.
1. Listen for the range of emotion expressed by the composers of the Romantic Period, from the intimate lyricism of a Chopin Prelude to the grand orchestral sounds of a Tschaikovsky symphonic work.
2. Listen for melody and the influence of Polish, Hungarian and Russian folk songs and dances in the music of Brahms, Chopin and Dvorak.
3. Listen for musical color. For example, the use of the horn, and new combinations of winds and strings, gave orchestral music a new musical color palette.
4. Listen for the lyricism of Puccini, Schumann, and the virtuostic appeal of Liszt and Mendelssohn.
Composers of the 18th century functioned under aristocratic patronage. The demand for a new piece for every occasion resulted in a tremendous flowering of instrumental music. The composers associated with the "Classical Period" are Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. The term "Classical" refers to the qualities of balance and symmetry found in the classical forms of the symphony, the sonata (both piano solo and piano with one other instrument), the concerto (particularly the piano concerto), and various chamber music forms of this period.
Serial music is music based on a "tone row." This method of composition, developed by Arnold Schoenberg, uses the twelve tones of the octave in specific sequence. Before any of the twelve notes can be repeated, the other eleven must have been presented in some form.
The sacred music of the Gregorian Chant was also known as plainchant, or plainsong and named after Pope Gregory. This music consisted of a single line of melody with a flexible rhythm sung to Latin words by unaccompanied male voices. Manuscripts date from ninth century and used a system of modes, specific patterns of whole and half steps. This single line of melody, called monophony, characterized music until about 1000 AD.
1. The steady pulse in the bass gives Baroque music its feeling of drive and energy.
2. The melodic line has an ornate texture and is often marked by a spinning out of a single melodic figure.
3. The main source of expression for the Baroque composer was the contrast between soft and loud. This shift from one level to the other is called terraced dynamics.
One style of the 20th century is minimalism. Minimalist composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass pared music down to its simplest ingredients. They took these elements and repeated them over and over again with slight variations to produce a mesmerizing effect. These extended works sometimes lasted as long as four hours.
The music of the Baroque (1600-1750) marked the shift from the texture of several independent parts of equal importance, polyphony, to having the emphasis on a single line of melody, supported by a foundation of chords, homophony. Like perspective in painting, hearing in depth with harmony, is among the significant developments of this period.
Two American composers that brought a new meaning to piano playing include Henry Cowell, the creator of tone clusters (whole groups of notes sounded simultaneously by striking the keyboard with the fist or forearm); and John Cage, who prepared the piano by placing objects inside the piano to alter the sound.
The lute, predecessor to the guitar, was probably the most popular of the early instruments. Other instruments included various types of flutes or recorders, stringed instruments such as the dulcimer and the gamba, and percussion instruments. Visit http://www.s-hamilton.k12.ia.us/antiqua/instrumt.html for more information.
Music of the Renaissance is characterized by a texture of four or more voice lines of similar character and importance known as polyphony, steady and predictable rhythms, and easily understandable text. Composers of the time included Josquin de Prez (1450-1521) and Giovanni Palestrina (1525-1594).