Sample essay topic, essay writing: Music History Thru The Middle Ages, Rennisance, Baroque, Etc... - 1965 words
Music has evolved too many different forms that we recognize today. We trace this development throughout time. Beginning in the middle ages, we have seen advancement from the Gregorian chant all the way to the Jazz of the 20th century. The current events, politics, religion, technology and composers can shape musical eras during time. Here I will look at the middle ages, renaissance, baroque, classical, romantic and twentieth century periods.
I hope that a better understanding can be reached to why, when, where and who are the reasons for musical evolution. Middle AgesBeginning with fall of Rome in 476a. d. the first half of this millennium is referred to as the "dark ages". In society, all power flowed from the king with the approval of the Roman Catholic Church and its bishops. This is what we know as church and state
The "dark ages" or an encompassment of the middle ages by history, gave to many early development in western music. Polyphony, which combines two or more simultaneous melodic lines, is a perfect example of this. Because polyphony required to be written to indicate precise rhythm and pitch, a new notational system was designed. Lifestyle in the middle Ages centered on the church. All levels of society choose religious life. This was not easy for patrons, some orders required vows of poverty. Discipline was evident among the church. A typical day began at 2:00 or 3:00 a. m. with the celebration of daily services, reading of lessons, and the singing of psalms.
Probably one of the most notable themes of the middle ages was sacred music, shaped in part by Greek, Hebrew, and Syrian influences. Religious pieces known as a Gregorian chant were popular. These consist of a single-line melody and monophonic texture lacking harmony and counterpoint. The Mass, a reenactment of the sacrifice of Christ, is the most solemn ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. Haec dies, from the Mass for Easter Day, serves as a fine example of Gregorian chant used during this period. Minstrels now began to emerge as a class of musicians who wandered among the courts and towns.
Some of these minstrels juggled, showed tricks, and introduced animals, along with the normal singing and dancing. This type of music that accompanied dinner and after-dinner entertainment is secular. Secular music became an integral part of medieval court life. RenaissanceThe renaissance began in 1450 and lasted to 1600. It marks the passing of European society to a more secular one. The Renaissance is dated to onset the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. In the world, the age saw many explorers in search of a faster trade route to China, which led to the discovery of North America.
Musicians in the Renaissance society are now professionals and were supported by the church, city and state as well as the royal and aristocratic courts. The rise of the merchant class brought new fans to music professionals. With the advent of cheaper printing, music books became available and affordable making musical literacy spread dramatically. The musical style of the renaissance can be noted in the vocal forms by smoothly gliding melodies. This became regarded as the golden age of cappella style, which is music without instrumental accompaniment. Polyphony in renaissance style was based on continuous imitation. This offered many possibilities such as cantus firmus. Sacred music played a prominent part in ritual of the church.
Motets and hymns became a part of Mass. The motet became a sacred form with a single Latin text. Motets in praise of the Virgin Mary were extremely popular because of the many religious groups devoted to Marian worship. Josquin Desprez, a popular master of the motet and influencer of many composers, composed more than a hundred motets and numerous secular pieces. BaroqueThe Baroque period stretched across half of European history. It began shortly before 1600 and ended with the death of Bach in 1750. During this time, there were change and adventure.
Conquest in the New World gave the middle class wealth and power and increased the struggle with the aristocracy. Absolute monarch dominated this era. Louis XIV is a prime of example of taking money from the people and using it to build a marvelous palace while commoners starved to death. Despite this poverty, Kepler, Galileo Copernicus and Descartes emerged as prominent contributors to the world in physics, astronomy and mathematics. Protestants were centered in England, Scandinavia, and Holland and north German cities. Catholic held two dynasties, the French Bourbons and the Austrian-Spanish Hapsburgs who fought each other as much as they fought the Protestants. Eventfully the Hapsburg Empire was broken in the 1790's.
The Baroque introduced new harmonic structures. The system none as Basso continuo required two instruments for the accompaniment. Major-minor tonality became the most powerful force in music. Each chord assumed in function to the key center. Composers used this with equal temperament to increase the range of harmonic possibilities. Music style during the Baroque era had a rhythmic freedom that became more vigorous. Continuous melody was now a part of music and incorporated the use of dissonance. Composers used these for emotional intensity and color.
They also used a contrast between a soft passage and a loud one to show terraced-dynamics. A virtuoso musician was needed now more than ever because of composers writing music that is more complicated. Opera utilized a virtuoso know as the castrato to sing in soprano or alto because he was castrated. Part of being a virtuoso required improvisation. Singers and players added their own embellishments to what was written to show off. This gave many creative contributions to the work.
The practice became very widespread throughout Baroque music. During this period, many prominent performers emerged. Johann Sebastian Bach, probably the most prominent was born in Germany. Bach wrote two hundred or so church cantatas. These cantatas typically have five to eight movements and the first, last and middle, are usually choral numbers. George Frideric Handel took part in this period composing many oratorios or choral dramas. Handel is probably best known for his piece "Messiah" which premiered in 1742.
ClassicalThe classical era began in the middle of the 1700's and followed up by the Romantic period. During this time rulers like Louis XV and Fredrick the Great controlled regions in the west. Before the end of the eighteenth century, the French Revolution convulsed Europe. This brought witness to both the old regime and the new political-economical alignment in Europe. The industrial revolution aided to many advances in science and brought forth more money for countries.
The American Revolution broke out in the east at this time. The Viennese School was a place where composers like Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven practiced. They brought many elements to classical style like diatonic harmony that is based on the seven tones of the major and minor scale. These masters used this harmony for its directness and feeling of being rooted in the key. Strong rhythms that move at a steady tempo gave a rhythmic regularity and signature to the Classical spirit and were all seen through the school. Several styles aroused popularity to the classical period. Chamber music or music for a small ensemble was essential to the Classical era.
The masters established a true chamber music style, which came across friendly. The string quartet became the most influential chamber music genre of the period. String quartet has a four-line texture that was ideal for composers. In general structures, it follows the same movement scheme of the sonata cycle. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an outstanding pianists and composer of the time.
His symphonies had a richness of orchestration, a freedom in part writing and a depth of emotion. Mozart also enjoyed opera. He wrote in three styles: opera buffa, opera seria, and singspiel. Mozart had many famous pieces including "Eine kleine Nachtmusik". Joseph Haydn, another prominent composer of the period, can best be associated with the symphony. He had angular themes that promoted motivic development. He expanded the orchestra's size and resource through greater emphasis on the brass, clarinets, and percussion instruments.
Ludwig van Beethoven introduced compositions that fell into three periods. His nine symphonies have universal appeal. He enjoyed the concertos to combine virtuosity with symphonic structure. Despite the loss of hearing later in life, Beethoven made many contributions and will be know for pieces like his Fifth symphony, and "Pathetique".RomanticThe Romantic era began fully in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The after affects of the French Revolution and American Revolution shaped new society.
Free enterprise and liberty were prominent influences on a new movement. The music of this period reflected the profound changes that were taking place. The Industrial Revolution brought with it many new instruments that enable changes. Composers like Wagner and Tchaikovsky wrote melodies for the horns that had been unplayable before. More instruments gave to the development of the orchestra which increased in size.
This gave more of a range and increased expressiveness of all composers. The romantic style let loose to a sing-able melody, expressive harmony, and expanded forms. The sing-able melody gave pieces a lyrical quality, which made compositions transferable into popular songs. High emotions and expression was made relevant in the harmony. Symphonies were now more drawn out which gave them more time to play out.
Several composers brought together many pieces of the Romantic period. Franz Schubert is best known for the Lied. During the romantic period, lieds were grouped together to form a song cycle. Schubert shows this in "Erlking" which was a through-composed lied. Robert Schumann can better be associated the song cycle. His composition "A Poet's Love, No. 8" was arguably his most famous song cycle.
Giuseppe Verdi brought even more to choral and dramatic music of the nineteenth century. His early works middle and final works were mostly operas, totaling twenty-eight. Twentieth CenturyThe Twentieth century began with new nationalism thinking. The music scene finally began to catch up in America. Charles Ives and Aaron Copland set a musical tradition that was part of campground revival meetings, minstrel shows, old-time band concerts, and western frontiers.
With our nationalistic thinking, we put a focus on the U. S. Marine Band conducted by John Philip Sousa. Blues and jazz with ragtime began to become popular. Composers like Scott Joplin became known as "the king of ragtime" Joplin was one of the first black Americans to gain importance as a composer. His ragtime rhythm was originally a piano style with marked syncopated melodies. Louis Armstrong became to represent the blues. During the 1920's musicians like Armstrong traveled the country spreading their new sound. Armstrong became an important person in the development of early jazz styles.
Improvisation was his thing and he was very good at it. Armstrong also introduced scat singing to the jazz world by accident during a recording. Musical theater became an important development to the 20th century. This type of comic opera depended on romantic plots, appealing melodies, choruses and comedy. Composers like George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, and Stephen Sondheim brought the genre to new level of sophistication. They composed masterpieces like "Porgy and Bess", "South Pacific", and "Sweeney Todd" respectively. Leonard Bernstein was a famous conductor, educator, and pianist of this time.
He first conducted the New York Philharmonic at age 25. He brought Broadway music to a new level. Bernstein is best known for "West Side Story" where he tells an updated tale of Romeo and Juliet in a modern setting. Through out these periods of progression we have not discovered a better style. We have just given ourselves more of a selection when it comes to what we choose to listen to. If it were I, Bach and Mozart would be in my CD player before some of the newer stuff released today. It is all just a matter of preference.
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