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Fun Fact Friday - Finishing Music Eras

Friday, February 9, 2018 by Chrissy Misso | music history

This post is aimed at the younger among us....all about different Music History FACTS!  We are hoping to post some musical fun facts every Friday until summer hits us in the Northern Hemisphere!

Last week we told you that music is divided into eras; we covered:
Prehistoric: before writing (of any kind) and Ancient: before 350 C.E.
Medieval: About 350–1400
Renaissance: 1400–1600

Now for the rest!
Baroque: 1600–1750

  • You’ve probably heard of Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, or George Franz Handel; this era is the beginning of what many people think of classical music.
  •  “The upper class also saw the dramatic style of Baroque architecture and art as a means of impressing visitors and expressing triumphant power and control.”  Thus, many musicians worked for the rich people, playing at dinners or writing special music for them.
  • “In music, the term 'Baroque' applies to the final period of dominance of imitative counterpoint, where different voices and instruments echo each other but at different pitches, sometimes inverting the echo, and even reversing thematic material.”  - - this means that music started to become more complex!  Before most music was harmonized with 4ths or 5ths, in the same rhythm; nobody had anything too different going on.  But now!  Melodies and harmonies would move in opposite directions, rules for writing came into play (kinda a list of things you weren’t supposed to do...), and more instruments would get together... musical composition was very mathematical in a sense.
  • The piano still isn’t around, but we have organ (air gets pushed through pipes, which the keys open when pressed, to get notes) and harpsichord (this looks like a piano, but the black and white coloring is reversed and the key causes a string to be PLUCKED instead of a hammer hitting the string).

Classical: 1740–1820

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johann Christian Bach (J.S. Bach’s youngest son) are some major players during this time.
  • Even bigger groups of instruments are being used as the symphony (a piece of music for an orchestra that has several movements, some fast and some slow; a theme that is introduced at the beginning is usually hidden throughout) becomes a popular, near mandatory, aspect of a composer’s career.  Beethoven wrote 9, and Mozart 41!...and that’s just two people!
  • Another popular composition style was the string quartet, which has a similar “formula” of movements that a symphony does.
  • Opera!  Traditionally written and sung in Italian (although Mozart breaks the mold and started writing in German), is the precursor to the musical.
  • It was very important for music to have shape: a build, high point, and resolution in sound, for example.
  • ”The piano was invented during this time. Composers liked the piano, because it could be used to play dynamics (getting louder or getting softer). Other popular instruments included the violin, the violoncello, the flute, the clarinet, and the oboe.”

Romantic: 1820–1900 

  • You may not be as familiar with some of the composers from this era, but, for the ones you do recognize, some of their music probably comes to mind immediately upon hearing their names.  Some of these romantics include Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Richard Wagner, Stephen Foster, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
  • While composers still write some symphonies, other styles were developed and perfected.  Some wrote quiet, expressive songs while other wrote loud, emotional songs; some wrote songs to express ideas or short stories or poems, while others would write large works covering complicated storylines.  Some of these used orchestras that had 100 instruments!
  • Lots of stuff was happening in Europe as countries were changing/growing/disappearing, so many composers were using folk songs in their works to help the nationalism (feeling proud, strongly tied to your country or people) movement.
  • Franz Liszt is the father of the modern soloist — the memorised performance, fawning followers, ... everything you think of as celebrity, including rumor of scandal!

Modern: 1900–today 

  • There are SO many things that have been happening in music since 1900!  We have eras within the era, times of polar opposites, people set on breaking on the old rules, and the development of many new styles, including actually using math to write music, not using musical instruments, and electronic music.  We also find more influence from the Americas.
  • Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Rachmoniov, Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland (one of Chrissy’s faves!), John Cage, John Adams (Einstein on the Beach, anyone?)
  • Composers in the last 30 years often use a collection of styles from all eras of music, mixing them throughout a single work or having pieces that follow the rules of particular era.
  • YOU can be a modern composer!

Reference for quotations/For more info see: https://wiki.kidzsearch.com/wiki/Music 

Non-quote material is from Chrissy’s memory, gained throughout her musical endeavors.




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