How the History of Music Ifluences Today
Submitted By CandyStocking
“Our lives are constantly changing, with new avenues of the supertechnology highway opening every day. This technological resolution has a strong impact on our work and our leisure activities. It also conditions how, when, and where we listen to music” Yes, as our book immediately states, our lives have changed. We can now listen to music in almost any location on earth. The music we’ve created has evolved into a great number of genres, all with wonderful different sounds. But without the old, there would have been nothing for the new to build upon. Much, if not all music from the middle ages and before is religious. This is due to sponsorship from the churches at the time, which usually consisted of monophonic Gregorian chants. Towards the end of Romanesque era, however, began the rise of polyphony. This evolved into the motet, while secular music was coming about in France and Spain. Afterwards, we move on to the Renaissance, an era of exploration, science, and artistic awakening. Melodies made specifically for the voice began springing up, and expressive word painting became a common theme. Around this period, amateur secular music started to appear.
Later, we would be in what is now known as the Baroque era. It was a turbulent time, of change in politics, science, and arts. This marks the introduction of Monody, as well as the genre of the Opera. In a way, an opera’s Librettist, who makes the main story of the work is like the author of a show, or movie, while the composer for both make the actual music. Cantatas and Oratarios also became popular during this time. The most famous of baroque cantatas are the sacred cantatas, written by Johann Sebastian Bach. George Frideric Handel was known for his oratorios, including Messiah. Improvements in instruments in the 17th century also led way to forms of Sonata and concerto.
Afterwards we begin what is now known as the classical era. This era brought mass production through the industrial revolution. It is characterized by large scale symphonies, concertos, and sonatas. Symphonies were one of the most significant parts of the era, with Hayden and Mozart’s final works. Concertos had existed during the baroque era, meaning a solo group and orchestra. However, during the classical era, it’s definition shifted to meaning a solo instrument and an orchestra. Sonatas were set for either a solo instrument, or a duo. The era is also known for it’s chamber music, most notably the string quartet. Operas and church music were popular, even still.
In the 18th century we move from the classical era to the romantic era. This era had resulted from the changes in society and politics following the French revolution. The industrial revolution continued to make advancements to instruments, causing their prices to lower. Most romantic fall between the structure of strophic, or through-composed. One of the most popular genres was the German lied. Coming into to the 19th century with improvements to the piano led to the development of the Concert Grand Piano. In this, also it also began the reign of the virtuoso pianist, usually a composer and performer at the same time. Two important artists from this time period were Frederic Chopin, who dedicated his entire work to the piano, and Franz Liszt, who created the new genre of symphonic poems. Louis Gottscholk, was a man from New Orleans, who drew inspiration from African American, Creole, and Latin American folk songs.
When not related to the piano, in some respects, the 19th century was very similar to the eighteenth with their program music. Symphonies were still a very popular part of music, and they were growing. Some of these composers, such as Johannes Brahms, stayed with classical traditions. However, others such as Dvorak incorporated inspiration he got from other cultures, while living in America. The romantic era had also preserved the concerto, but with more free use of Standard forms. Choral and dramatic music also spread in popularity, due to the spread of democracy. At this time, there were three main styles of opera, based on nation. This includes French, German, and Italian. Towards the end of the century, while some composers resisted, it showed that the romantic era was all but over.
The new century once again ushered in a new era of music, including the movement of Impressionism, brought by Maurice Ravel, and Claude Debussy, as well as the movement of post-romanticism, from such as Puccini, and Richard Strauss. Impressionism can be drawn from the french, who were trying to capture first impressions. This had happened at an important time in the history of European music, when composers were starting to feel that they had exhausted the major-minor system. At the time, artists turned away from the attitudes of the Romantic Era. While some composers tried to make more simple music, and others tried to make even more complex music, others returned to the elements of classical music, which is now called Neoclassicism. Much like in romanticism many different styles were formed by people of different countries.
In the early 20th century arose raggtime music, blues, and early jazz. One of the most popular Ragtime artists was Scott Joplin. His Maple Leaf Rag is one of the most famous ragtime songs, and practically established the genre. Blues is an form of folk music developed in America, based on a simple poetic structure. Jazz, was born in New Orleans, by blending African elements like Ragtime and blues with other traditional styles. The thirties saw the advent of the swing era, also known as the big band era, which in the late 1940s gave way to bebop, cool jazz, and West Coast Jazz. Also coming into existence around this time was Musical theatre, developed from European comic opera. Rock and Roll began its rise in the 1950s, originating from rhythm and blues, pop music, and gospel. Music videos, such as those played on MTV had a big influence on the spreading of the genre. Hip-hop, pop, and country-western music have grown due to this as well.
Finally we have New Music mirroring new trends in other arts.This is much like trend of paintings going from objective painting to abstract expressionism. Though the twelve tone method made for quite strict organization of sound material, some composers started to push this even further. As to be expected, with some people looking for heavily controlled music, others were looking for extremely free music. This led to a more use of improvisation than had been used before. Though other countries had slowed european composers, they quickly caught up afterwards. The creation of this new music requires new technology, and thus those with the ability to use this new technology.
Music is even used in films, to establish the mood. This industry is often intended to be unobtrusive, while the viewer of the film is paying attention to dialogue, and the action of the scenes. It may set the mood of a scene, or help establish a character. Often, a film will even try to attempt to use instruments that fit the time and placement of their movies. This got it’s start during the silent film era, where pianists and organists actually played while the film was running. Music was first actually included within the films in 1926, with Warner Brothers’ Vitaphone system. For this business, composers needed to be flexible, and able to write in several styles. Concurrently, the rise of the synthesizer had also started, making its way into film scores as well.
As of late, we have also brought more and more technology into the world of music. Synthesizers were made cheaper and cheaper throughout the sixties, FM Synth was invented during the 1970s, revolutionizing electronic music. Songs can even be composed on a computer using real instruments, using the MIDI Interface. Our ways of listening to music have also changed quite a bit. One old format that got a lot of use was records, which were large disks made of vinyl. Next came cassette tapes, which could be portable, and people would be happy to have an entire album of music with them on the go. Now, some it is possible to store over 24 hours worth of music on an MP3 player or cellphone.
As you can see, the state of music has changed a lot since the middle ages. We have developed more varied rhythms and tones. I found surprising similarities between the composers for Operas and those who score films. I had also found out that what I had believed was the classical era was actually the combination of both the classical era, and the romantic era. The romantic era had lasted quite long, through the introduction of the grand piano. Impressionism, post-romanticism, and neoclassicism led to ragtime, blues, and jazz. Since then, music has evolved with other arts, and technology.