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A Far Too Brief History of Western Music
Transcript of A Far Too Brief History of Western Music
A Far Too Brief History of Western Music
The word "Antiquity" shares a root with the word "antique" - we're talking about Ancient Times!
In the earliest recorded histories, and far back into archeological records, there is evidence of music being used around the globe in
celebration, ceremony, and self-expression.
Western music traces its routes to Sumeria, around six to seven thousand years ago, and to classical Greece (1000 – 300 BCE)
The Middle Ages
came after the Dark Ages - a period created between the fall of the Roman Empire and the establishment of order in Europe.
Churches and monasteries were the cultural centers - they had art, music, books, and learning
Monks and Nuns were the first formal composers
Pope Gregory the Great organizes the church's chants - "Gregorian Chant"
This is the time that musical notation developed
Hildegard Von Bingen
Composers of the Middle Ages
O nobilissima virditas (O most noble greenness)
Renaissance means “re-birth;”
artists, musicians and scientists were re-discovering some of the artistic and scientific concepts of Classical Greece and Rome.
This is the period when ideas of harmony (use of chords) and polyphony (two or more melodic lines being played at the same time) were solidified. In addition,
Over this period musicians started to move away from basing their work on “modal” scales and harmonies, and towards using the major and minor scales we know today.
Choral music was by far the most important form of musical expression, though organ music, orchestras, and other instrumental ensembles were growing in significance.
Guillaume Dufay, (1397-1474),
Composers of the Renaissance
William Byrd (1540-1623),
Giovanni Palestrina (1526-1594),
Giovanni Gabrieli (1553/1556-1612).
Other notable people working in the arts in this time period include playwright William Shakespeare and artist Leonardo da Vinci.
"Adoramus Te, Christe"
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Secular (not church music) was also written during this time, and performed by groups of traveling minstrels, jongleurs or troubadours. Many traveling performers wrote and performed ballads pertinent to the time. This tradition still exists today.
Listen! "Fine Knacks for Ladies" by John Dowland
In 1999, Sting (from the Police) recorded an entire album of Dowland's music called "Songs from the Labyrinth."
Click on photo to play.
Over the 150 years that this period spans, the old modal scales were almost completely replaced by major and minor scales.
J. S. Bach (1685-1750), composer of choral, orchestral, and keyboard works, is seen as one of the chief architects behind this shift.
The intricate textures and melodies that typify the music of these years are heard in his many works, including a collection called The Well-Tempered Clavier.
These years also witnessed the beginning of a shift away from choral compositions towards instrumental works.
J. S. Bach, (1685-1759)
Composers of the Baroque Era
G. F. Händel, (1685-1759)
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
J.S. Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor
G.F. Handel- "Halleluiah Chorus" from "The Messiah"
Did you know?
The word "Baroque" comes from the old Portuguese word "barocco" which means irregular shaped pearl.
The music and art of the period was highly ornamented.
They used a lot of improvisation in instrumental music!
Palace of Versailles
The Classical Era
This era had such a dominant influence that people tend to call any music with an orchestral sound and a lot of string "classical."
The Classical Era developed and solidified many of the forms of music introduced in teh Baroque period (i.e. concerto)
Introduced sonata form - which dominates composition for 200 years, influencing everything from concertos and symphonies to trios and quartets.
PRECISE music form in melody and harmony were very important to composers of this era.
C.P.E. Bach, son of J.S., (1714-1788)
Christoph von Gluck (1714-1787)
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Wolgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
F.J. Haydn - Symphony No. 94, movement II - Andante
W. A. Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K.331: III. Alla turka: Allegretto
The Romantic Era
Beethoven bridged the Classical and Romantic eras. His music was rooted in formal structures (Classical) but contained passion, expression and intensity (Romantic)
In the Romantic Era- art, literature and music stretched and broke the boundaries of strict classical form.
Wrote music about their deepest feelings, or to tell a story (programme music) rather than the "absolute" music of the Baroque and Classical periods.
Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
Romantic Era Composers
Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
H.L.Berlioz - "Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14, V. Ronde du sabbat"
L.v.Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2, "Moonlight"
P.I. Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a II.
Danses carateristiques: Russian Dance, "Trepak"
The Modern Era
Most historians would agree that the Romantic Era ended around the time of World War I (1914-1919)
This period continues to present day and is hard to categorized since there are so many different forms and styles developing at the same time!
Some of it continues the work of the past, while other pieces are abstract and experimental as some of the visual art of the period.
Aaron Copeland (1900-1990)
Composers of the Modern Era
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951)
R. Murray Schafer (1933-)
John Cage (1912-1992)
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”
S. Prokofiev - Peter and the Wolf, Op. 67
A. Schoöenberg: Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21(German)
Part 1: I. Mondestrunken (Moondrunk)
R.M. Schafer: Epitaph for Moonlight
Francesca Caccini (1587 – 1641)
F. Caccini - Aria sopra la romanesca, "Dov'io credea"
Alexina Louie (1949-)
A. Louie: Music for a Thousand Autumns
II. Ancient Music