Music History – Now that you are properly introduced to the most famous pieces in the classical music repertoire, I thought the next logical step would be to review the various eras that make up the history of classical music. The term is very broad, covering music from the Middle Ages to the present day. This article will attempt to introduce you to several different styles and ideas of each musical period in the Western world, as well as contextualize them to explain various developments and highlight important composers. This is not a comprehensive guide, but rather an overview to help beginners better understand classical music. Due to its broad scope (we are talking about millennial music after all), it is not possible to cover everything. For example, any music after 1945 is excluded because there are so many schools and styles that it would be impossible to use hundreds of words in one article.
Although early music was in the form of church and court music, it was early church music, especially vocal church music, that would eventually become the highly developed music of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. There are many virtues in the music of troubadours, madrigals and choirs, but the main theme of the article is church music.
It all starts here, with a single note. Monophonic singing, known as plain singing, developed in various centers throughout Europe. Like court music, it was local music based on local liturgies, and different regions developed different styles. Hear the difference between Portuguese and Spanish Mozarabic songs and Amborian songs. Both do versions of “Gloria in Excelisus Deo”.
Early Music History
This began to change in 1011 AD. when the Catholic Church standardized the liturgy and hymns. The result was a Gregorian chant that combined the singing styles of two major European centers: Rome, the ecclesiastical center, and Paris, the political center. center. It replaced almost all forms of local music. Listen to “Gloria” again here, but with Gregory’s voice.
With this standardization came development. Gradually more lines appeared in the music passing through the organum. Much of this music remains untitled. Once again, different centers experimented with different approaches to the organ, perhaps most notably English. St. Martial’s Florid Organum was the most important of the later organs and was based on the famous Notre Dame school, but the English organ favored the third interval, which would be the way for modal music to lead to major/minor keys. , but more on that later. These were later developed by two of the earliest composers, first Leonine and then Perotin. Both introduced many new compositional techniques, especially modal rhythms, essentially irregular notes arranged in regular patterns.
The main difference is that Leonine’s style moved more towards long, narrow lines, while Perotin focused more on using smoother voices and brought a solid start to polyphony.
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The first step was to smooth out the elements that became popular in the late medieval style. In particular, this means simplifying some rhythms. However, it created a more fluid style and in many ways added a more focused rhythm that moved more toward the end of the piece. The third range is more valuable with more colors (small and large). In the Middle Ages, it was considered dissonant, so it was subordinate to fifths and fourths.
In the music of Johannes Ockham, music gradually became more complex again. His passion for canons can be heard in the Missa Prolationum. This is due to the detail seen in the fine arts of the time.
In the 1470s, the first impact of printing was felt in music. The advent of musical notation gave rise to the idea of transmitting music and copying it more faithfully. This meant that, as with the standardization of the church liturgy in 1011, the local element was overtaken by a growing internationalism, especially the Franco-Flemish polyphonic style. Along with this, the trend of simplification increased, especially in G.P. Palestrina. The shift to a more specific style came from the Counter-Reformation and the Council of Trent. Basically, it was decided that the polyphonic music of the time made divine verses and sacred texts unintelligible. They avoided mixing multiple voices in the style of Ockham’s canon and imitated duets and trios with a 5-6 part structure. And there was an increasing amount of similes (multiple voices moving to the same beat) in particularly important passages. Palestrina eventually developed a counterpoint style that flows freely from these, providing both clarity and musical interest.
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The period’s obsession with antiquity, especially the Greeks, led some to experiment with a form of musical theater in which voices told stories along with instruments, essentially trying to replicate Greek drama. They succeed to some extent. It is questionable how much they resembled traditional Greek drama, but they created a form of musical theater that still exists today.
Again, the Baroque era offers a variety of composers from different places, so there is a tendency towards localization in the music. The term itself was used pejoratively for a highly exotic and seemingly incoherent style of music. It became a term used to describe a wide range of composers over a period of 150 years. One of the composers of the transitional period was Jacopo Peri. He worked both in different churches and in the courts, especially in the Medici. His style is much less complex than the more decorative style that characterizes much earlier Renaissance or Baroque music. Little of his work is done today and it is mostly just a curiosity. However, he is, according to some, the true inventor of the new form of Opera, which Claudio Monteverdi would later reformulate in L’Orfeo.
Tonal harmony in the form of basso continuo (continuous bass line) with tonal polyphony inspired by the counterpoint developed during the Renaissance is a key component that characterizes later Baroque music. The third interval, which gradually became important to composers, gave way to major and minor keys, a way to manage dissonance and chromaticism, which became a key feature by the end of the 19th century.
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Century. Beyond this is the concept of equal temperament, which divides the octave into twelve parts. Surprisingly, they are not perfectly tuned twelve and a half tons. There are actually twelve untuned intervals, but their untuning is precise, meaning they balance each other out. This allowed modulation between keys. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier is, in part, an achievement and a celebration of this standardization. The instrument itself came into being. In particular, keyboard instruments such as the harpsichord and the organ became the mainstay of the music.
Although J.S. Bach was a giant of this era, he was far from the most famous musician of his time, but his popularity grew from the 19th century onwards. His main function was Kapellmeister in Leipzig, essentially the person responsible for the city’s music. He composed a variety of works, including choral cantatas, masses, preludes and partias. From theater-based works (such as operas), Bach’s catalog includes all forms, instruments and orchestras of the period.
And typography paved the way for standardization. Pedagogical texts appeared, including Gadras ad Paranassum (1725) by Johann Fuchs, which systematized counterpoints from earlier periods, and Archangelo Corelli, which organized violin technique and pedagogy. This period also allowed for greater individualization. Composers and performers began to spread their knowledge and skills through pedagogy or the press, and their talents were praised.
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Although the liturgy still forms the basis of some works, the composers have chosen to organize the material differently. To return to the “tonic” or home key, form became even more important because the musical material had to be arranged in a single key. He created the sonata form as well as ideas for themes and variations. Form bases include binary (AABA) or ternary (ABC) forms.
During the Renaissance, the focus shifted to classical antiquity, and people tried to imitate it in new art and architecture. As in the Baroque period, formality and hierarchy were emphasized, but in contrast to the complex and decorative styles of the Baroque, there was a greater emphasis on clear divisions, strong contrasts, and simplicity of style. Simply put, polyphony gave way to monotony with subordinate harmony. Revealing the change in modulation between the first and second subjects of the sonata