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Music Through the Centuries Essay

The period between 1400 and 1600 is called the Renaissance period. Also known as the period of rebirth, this period brought out the inventions that made a great impact on the lives of people up to the present. The critical and ambitious minds of inventors allow the invention of clock, gunpowder and eyeglasses. Consequently, certain aspects of music also changed. Polyphonic and imitation among voices became rampant. The vocals, whose main purpose is to bring forth emotion and meaning in music, were greatly utilized and some pieces of church songs were intended for a capella performance.

With these, the Renaissnce period acquired the name Golden Age of A Capella Music. The impact on music was so vast that families for musical instruments develop. Harmony gained significant attention to the composers who favored blending over contrasting. At the same time, texture became richer because bass was registered for the first time. Some of the famous composers in this era included Josquin Des Prez and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. If given the chance to choose a musical composition in this period, I will choose the Ave Maria by Josquin Des Prez.

The song is very relaxing and soothing. It has a great combination of overlapping and alternating high and low notes. Vocals are good and an atmosphere of peace and lightness is exemplified as one listens to this music. After the Renaissance comes the Baroque period (1600-1750), which is characterized by splendid, glamorous and lavish effects on arts, science and music. The canopy of the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed and a number of natural laws were found such as the laws of pressure by Robert Boyle.

Modes, which were rampant during the Renaissance and Medieval period, were replaced with major and minor tonalities. Basso continuo was greatly accepted and used, as well as the doctrine of affection, which allows the composers to express their feelings freely in music. Composers during this period realized that counterpoint, free use of dissonance, imitative polyphony and homophobic method are essential in their field of artistry. They showed emphasis on volume, texture and pace in music and frequent usage of basic triads and inversions.

At the same time, the composers began to explore the inner ability of music to express human spirits and to depict natural phenomena. Opera also flourished because of the Italian’s desire to recapture the Greek drama where music played an important part. Solo vocalists and the style of homophony were utilzed to help the listeners focus on the melody of the song. Orchestra also began to take shape as string intruments such as violin became dominant. Famous composers that popularized this grandiose style of music included Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldo, and George Frideric Handel.

To name one of the great muscial compositions in this era, I would prefer Cantata 80 of Bach. This song is festive-like with good transition of high notes and low notes. The song brings a warm and welcoming aura. This song expresses a high level of emotion as well as a great evidence of how good and hard it is to compose a piece of music. After the Baroque period comes the Classical period (1750-1825). During this period, the first edition of Encyclopedia Brittancia was released. The first vaccination was made and the electric battery was invented by Volta.

Compared to Baroque music, Classical music has less complicated texture but has far more variety and contrast because of the use of words such as pitch, tempo, mood, and timbre. Melody is shorter than the Baroque music but with clear-cut phrases and cadences. Functional harmony was retained but tended to focus on slow rhytmic harmony. Metric pulses were present but were not emphasized. Moreover, occasional pauses and rhythmic set points were also common. On the other hand, the orchestra continued to develop with an additional section for the woodwind instruments.

The same with the opera wherein piano is considered the most inportant intrument in every performance. Great importance was given on instrumental music, and sonata form was the most important design in this period. Using these styles of music, several composers became known during this period such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. The Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart is an adorable and explicitly unique music. Listening to this music, one can feel the notes freely moving across the music sheet.

It has charming and rich melodies that made this music a classical favorite not only in the past but also in the present. The joyful, skipping melody made this music enjoyable and light to hear. Classical period was succeeded by the Romantic period (1825-1900), also known as the Age of Sentimentality. It is during this time that telephone, light bulb, and radio transmissions were developed. In terms of music, there was a simultaneous development of musical extremes. Although basso continuo was totally abandoned, chromaticism flourished and textures were more developed.

The virtuosity of the composers were enhanced and they put emphasis on beauty, elegance, and balance in their compostitions. Music became lyrical with dramatic contrasts in dynamics and pitch. Because this was the period for freedom of design and form, music became thematical. Programme music developed and the idea of nationalism flourished because of the need to break away from the strong influence of Germany on music. Fryderyk Franciskez Chopin and Franz Schubert were some of the famous composers in this period. The song of Erlking by Schubert is a good example of romantic music.

This song is great because it is very enticing and one can feel the energy flowing through the entire piece. The continuous pulsation of notes gives this song a playful genre. It can be compared to prancing horses that can give one this feeling of excitement and curiosity. With the Classical Music declining, Modern Music became the reigning music in the 1900s. Some of the events that totally changed the history of the world are World War I and II as well as the Vietnam War. This change had a great effect on how music was viewed during this period.

Modern Music focused on treating variety, continuity, and mood. Noise makers such as sirens and typewriters as well as percussion instruments became a vital part in this industry (Thinkquest, 1999). The aim to build an unusual music resulted to the employment of tongue fluttering and other special techniques. Dissonance is also preferred than consonance,which resulted to a development of fantasy-like, distant, and mystifying music. To gain an impression of imbalance, polyrhythm was employed. Some of the great composers in this era were Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky.

The Ancient Voices of Children by George Crumb is a great example of how modern music should sound like. This work is extraordinary and mystifying. The music itself is powerful but there is a haunting effect that provokes the listeners to seek for musical images. It stirs up the emotions of the listeners through the tensions placed on the entire musical score. The music’s great shimmering echoes and frequent echoing silence and passages made this song my personal favorite. References Thinkquest (1999) Characteristics of 20th Century Music. Retrieved from http://library. thinkquest. org/27927/20%20century_Characteristics. htm


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