TRACING WESTERN MUSIC:  1600–1900

The Tonal Music System

  • Use of functional harmony to move the listener through the piece and establish relationships (I - IV - V - I);
  • Counterpoint:  Melodic lines that retain their individual identity, but also work together;
  • Tension and resolution through the use of dissonance and consonance.

The basic periods in the development of this music can be seen as:

  1. Baroque, 1600-1750)
  2. Classical, 1750-1810)
  3. Romantic, 1810-1900)

Baroque

1600–1750

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

Other Composers:

George Fredrich Handel

Antonio Vivaldi

  • Equal-temperament becomes the standard tuning for modern Western music (Bach's Well Tempered Klavier)
  • Much sacred music associated with church services & Christian holidays
  • Also music for political and social occasions and dance– but these were often also connected with the church
  • Highly complex counterpoint and ornamental
  • Improvisation played a key role

Harpsichord

The Baroque Orchestra

Classical

1750–1810

Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)

Wolfgang Mozart (1756–1791)

  • Focus on clarity of form and structure, less ornate counterpoint
  • The "Age of Enlightenment" emphasized reason, common sense, self-governance; In contrast to Baroque theocracy & aristocracy
  • Music should present itself to be clearly understood & appreciated by all, not just those in religious positions.
  • ...But social class hierarchies were still dominant 
  • Orchestras getting larger (20-40 players)
  • Pieces getting longer
  • Compositional forms evolving (symphony, sonata, concerto, string quartet)
  • First music theory book: Treatise on Harmony, by Rameau (1722)

The Tonal Music System Develops Further

Clavichord

The Classical Orchestra

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

Classical

Romantic

Romantic

1810–1900

Franz Liszt (1811–1886)

Hector Berlioz (1803–1869)

  • Other composers: Chopin, Brahms, Wagner, Mahler
  • Music as primarily emotional communication, composer as "artisté"
  • Dramatic, natural, and supernatural themes (conflict, nature, dreams, magic, drugs)
  • Inspiration from the glorified past
  • Less connection to the church than ever before
  • Huge orchestras, extremely long & ambitious works
  • Virtuoso performers as rock-stars
  • Close connection with other art forms, especially literary work (poem settings, program music)

Pianoforté

The Romantic Orchestra

The Western Orchestra

1700

1900

1800

Tracing Western Music

By Brian

Tracing Western Music

1600–1900

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