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Western music

Western music is the genres of music originating in the Western world (Europe and its former
colonies) including Western classical music, American Jazz, Country and Western, pop music
and rock and roll. The word Western may be misleading as the definition of the western world
has changed over time and because of the inclusion of Western influenced genres.

Musical genres in the Western tradition include:

• Classical music
o Medieval music
o Renaissance music
o Baroque music
o Classical music era
o Romantic music
o 20th century classical music
o Contemporary music

• Pop and popular music

o Acid (disambiguation)
o Bluegrass
o Blues
o Country music
o Disco
o Folk
o Hymns
o Jazz
o Metal
o Neofolk
o Punk rock
o Rap
o Rock and Roll
o Ska
o Soul
o Spirituals
o Swing
o Synthpop
o Techno
o Trance
Western music (North America)
Western music
Traditional American and immigrant
Stylistic origins
Cultural origins American West Western music is a form of folk
(See String band) music originally composed by and about
Fiddle - Mandolin - Guitar- Bass the people who settled and worked
instruments throughout the Western United States and
fiddle - Cello - Banjo - Harmonica
Western Canada. Directly related musically
Derivative to old English, Scottish, and Irish folk
Western swing
forms ballads, Western music celebrates the life
Other topics of the cowboy on the open ranges and
prairies of Western North America.[1] The
Western arts
Mexican music of the American Southwest
also influenced the development of this genre. Western music is related to country music, the
latter sharing similar origins but developed in the Appalachians, thus it reflected the life of the
people of that region. Guitars, fiddles, and the accordion are the most common instruments used
in Western music.

• 1 Origins Origins
• 2 Mainstream popularity
• 3 Decline in popularity
The origins of Western music can be traced back to the folk
• 4 Rediscovery
music traditions of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
• 5 List of Western songs
The music was brought to North America during the mid-
• 6 List of Western singers
nineteenth century by pioneers and ranchers who settled the
• 7 References
western plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the American
• 8 Bibliography
Southwest. The mix of ethnic English, Welsh, Scotish, Irish,
German, Mexican, and Eastern European peoples who settled
• 9 External links
these regions gave the music its unique qualities. Reflecting
the realities of the range and ranch houses where the music originated, the early cowboy bands
were string bands supplemented occasionally with the harmonica. Otto Gary, an early cowboy
band leader, stated authentic Western music had only three rhythms, all coming from the gaits of
the cowpony—walk, trot, and lope.[2]

In 1908, N. Howard "Jack" Thorp published the first book of Western music, titled Songs of the
Cowboys. Containing only lyrics and no musical notation, the book was very popular west of the
Mississippi. Most of these cowboy songs are of unknown authorship, but among the best known
is "Little Joe, the Wrangler," written by Thorp himself.[3]

In 1910, John Lomax, in his book Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, first gained
national attention for Western music. His book contained many of the same songs as Thorp's
book (he collected most of them before Thorp's was published). However, Lomax's compilation
included many musical scores. Lomax published a second collection in 1919 titled Songs of the
Cattle Trail and Cow Camp.

With the advent of radio and recording devices the music found an audience previously ignored
by music schools and Tin Pan Alley.[4] Many Westerners preferred familiar music about
themselves and their environment.

The first successful cowboy band to tour the East was Otto Gray's Oklahoma Cowboys put
together by William McGinty, an Oklahoma pioneer and former Rough Rider. The band
appeared on radio and toured the vaudeville circuit from 1924 through 1936. They recorded few
songs however, so are overlooked by many scholars of Western Music.[5]

Mainstream popularity
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Western music became widely popular through the
romanticization of the cowboy and idealized depictions of the west in Hollywood films. Singing
cowboys, such as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, sang cowboy songs in their films and became
popular throughout the United States. Film producers began incorporating fully orchestrated
four-part harmonies and sophisticated musical arrangements into their motion pictures. Bing
Crosby, the most popular singer of that time, recorded numerous cowboy and Western songs.
During this era, the most popular recordings and musical radio shows included Western music.
Western swing also developed during this time.

Decline in popularity
By the 1960s, Western music was in decline. Relegated to the country and Western genre by
marketing agencies, popular Western recording stars released albums to only moderate success.
Rock and Roll dominated music sales and Hollywood recording studios dropped most of their
Western artists. Caught unawares by the boom in "country and Western" sales from Nashville
that followed, Hollywood rushed to cash in. In the process, country and Western music lost its
regionalism and most of its style. Except for the label, much of the music was indistinguishable
from Rock and Roll or Popular classes of music. Some Western music traditionalists oppose the
association of Western music with the country and Western genre, which does not reflect the
spirit of true Western music.


Classical music
This article is about Western art music from 1000 AD to the present. For Western art music from
1750 to 1820, see Classical period (music). For all art music styles, see List of classical music

Periods of European art music

Medieval (500 – 1400)
Renaissance (1400 – 1600)
Common practice
Classical music is a broad term that usually refers to
Baroque (1600 – 1760)
mainstream music produced in, or rooted in the traditions
Classical (1730 – 1820) of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a
Romantic (1815 – 1910) broad period from roughly the 9th century to present times.
Modern and contemporary [1]
The central norms of this tradition became codified
20th century (1900 – 2000) between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common
Contemporary (1975 – present) practice period.

European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical
forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century.[2] Western staff notation
is used by composers to prescribe to the performer the pitch, speed, meter, individual rhythms
and exact execution of a piece of music. This leaves less room for practices, such as
improvisation and ad libitum ornamentation, that are frequently heard in non-European art music
(compare Indian classical music and Japanese traditional music), and popular music.[3][4][5]

The public taste for and appreciation of formal music of this type waned in the late 1900s in the
United States and United Kingdom in particular.[6] Certainly this period has seen classical music
falling well behind the immense commercial success of popular music, in the opinion of some,
although the number of CDs sold is not indicative of the popularity of classical music.[7]

The term 'classical music' did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to 'canonize'
the period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Beethoven as a golden age.[8] The earliest reference to
"classical music" recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is from about 1836.[9][10] Many
writers feel that 'classical' is an inappropriate term for mainstream and avant-garde music written
since the latter part of the 19th century, hence the common usage of apostrophes as a short-hand
for 'so-called'.[11]
• 1 Characteristics
o 1.1 Instrumentation
o 1.2 Form and technical execution
o 1.3 Complexity
o 1.4 Society
• 2 History
o 2.1 Roots
o 2.2 The Early Period
o 2.3 The Common Practice Period
 2.3.1 Baroque music
 2.3.2 Classical period music
 2.3.3 Romantic era music
o 2.4 20th century, modern, and contemporary music
• 3 Timeline of composers
• 4 Significance of written notation
• 5 Influence
o 5.1 Popular music
o 5.2 Folk music
o 5.3 Commercialism
o 5.4 Education
• 6 See also
• 7 Notes
• 8 References

• 9 External links

Given the extremely broad variety of forms, styles, genres, and historical periods generally
perceived as being described by the term "classical music," it is difficult to list characteristics
that can be attributed to all works of that type.

Vague descriptions are plentiful, such as describing classical music as anything that "lasts a long
time," a statement made rather moot when one considers contemporary composers who are
described as "classical;" or music that has certain instruments like violins, which are also found
in bluegrass music, Broadway music, and other genres; or "relaxing" or "background" music for
affluent people, descriptions which are probably only accurate when describing court music from
the Baroque and Classical periods; indeed, many people do not find modern or avant-garde
composers and works such as Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima by Krzysztof Penderecki or
Black Angels by George Crumb to be very relaxing or "snobby."
However, there are characteristics that classical music contains that generally few or no other
genres of music contain.


Classical and popular music are often distinguished by their choice of instruments. There are few
if any genres in which so many different instruments are used simultaneously by performing
groups such as symphony orchestras, which often contain as many as 5 or so different types of
string instruments including members of the violin family and harp, 7 or more types of
woodwind instruments, 4 or so types of brass instrument, and many diverse percussion
instruments, sometimes as many as 10 different types. Also prevalent, especially in opera, is the
human voice. Comparatively, most popular music genres involve fewer instruments. For instance
a typical rock band will consist of a drummer, a guitarist or two, a singer or two, an electric
bassist and, less universally, a keyboardist. Of course, crossover influences, such as string
sections in pop recordings, are very popular as well, but rarely are backing strings considered to
be part of pop or rock bands.

The instruments used in common practice classical music were mostly invented before the mid-
19th century (often much earlier), and codified in the 18th and 19th centuries. They consist of the
instruments found in an orchestra, together with a few other solo instruments (such as the piano,
harpsichord, and organ).

Electric instruments such as the electric guitar appear occasionally in the classical music of the
20th and 21st centuries. Both classical and popular musicians have experimented in recent
decades with electronic instruments such as the synthesizer, electric and digital techniques such
as the use of sampled or computer-generated sounds, and the sounds of instruments from other
cultures such as the gamelan.

None of the bass instruments existed until the Renaissance. In Medieval music, instruments are
divided in two categories: loud instruments for use outdoors or in church, and quieter
instruments for indoor use. Many instruments which are associated today with popular music
used to have important roles in early classical music, such as bagpipes, vihuelas, hurdy-gurdies
and some woodwind instruments. On the other hand, the acoustic guitar, for example, which
used to be associated mainly with popular music, has gained prominence in classical music
through the 19th and 20th centuries.

While equal temperament became gradually accepted as the dominant musical temperament
during the 19th century, different historical temperaments are often used for music from earlier
periods. For instance, music of the English Renaissance is often performed in mean tone

Form and technical execution

Whereas the majority of popular styles, such as rock music, lend themselves to the song form,
classical music can also take on the form of the concerto, symphony, opera, dance music, suite,
etude, symphonic poem, and others.
Classical composers often aspire to imbue their music with a very complex relationship between
its affective (emotional) content and the intellectual means by which it is achieved. Many of the
most esteemed works of classical music make use of musical development, the process by which
a musical germ, idea or motif is repeated in different contexts or in altered form. The classical
genres of sonata form and fugue employ rigorous forms of musical development.

Along with a certain desire for composers to attain high technical achievement in writing their
music, performers of classical music are faced with similar goals of technical mastery, as
demonstrated by the proportionately high amount of schooling and private study most successful
classical musicians have had when compared to "popular" genre musicians, and the large number
of secondary schools, including the conservatories, dedicated to the study of classical music. The
only other genre in the Western world with comparable secondary education opportunities is


Classical music generally requires high musical skills to play such as sight reading, ability to
coordinate with other players and experience in playing the composer's music. Classical works
often display musical complexity through the composer's use of development, modulation
(changing of keys), variation rather than exact repetition, musical phrases that are not of even
length, counterpoint, polyphony and sophisticated harmony. Larger-scale classical works (such
as symphonies, concertos, operas and oratorios) are built up from a hierarchy of smaller units:
namely phrases, periods, sections, and movements. Musical analysis often seeks to distinguish
and explain these structural levels.


Often perceived as opulent or signifying some aspect of upper-level society, classical music has
generally never been as popular with working class society. However, the traditional perception
that only upper-class society has access to and appreciation for classical music, or even that
classical music represents the upper-class society, may not be true, given that many if not most
working classical musicians fall somewhere in the middle-class income range in the United
States, and that classical concertgoers and CD buyers are not necessarily upper class.[citation needed]
Even in the Classical era, Mozart's opera buffa such as Cosi fan Tutte were popular with many
common people.

Classical music regularly features in Pop Culture forming background music for movies,
television programs and advertisements. As a result most people in the Western World regularly
and often unknowingly listen to classical music, this means that it can be argued that the
relatively low levels of recorded music sales may not be a good indicator of its actual popularity.
In more recent times the association of certain classical pieces with major events has led to brief
upsurges in interest in particular classical genres. A good example of this was the choice of
Nessun Dorma from Puccini's opera Turandot as the theme tune for the 1990 Soccer World Cup
which led to a noticeable increase in popular interest in opera and in particular in tenor arias,
which led to the huge sellout concerts by The Three Tenors. Such events are often cited as
helping to drive increases in the audiences at many classical concerts that have been observed in
recent times.

The major time divisions of classical music are the early period (which includes Medieval (476 –
1400) and Renaissance (1400 – 1600)); the Common practice period (which includes Baroque
(1600 – 1750); the Classical (1730 – 1820) and Romantic periods (1815 – 1910)) periods; and
the modern and contemporary period which includes 20th century classical (1900 – 2000) and
contemporary classical (1975 – current).

The dates are generalizations, since the periods overlapped and the categories are somewhat
arbitrary. For example, the use of counterpoint and fugue, which is considered characteristic of
the Baroque era, was continued by Mozart, who is generally classified as typical of the classical
period. Beethoven, who is often described as a founder of the romantic period, and Brahms, who
is classified as romantic, also used counterpoint and fugue, but it is other characteristics of their
music that define their period.

The prefix neo is used to describe a 20th century or contemporary composition written in the
style of an earlier period, such as classical, romantic, or modern. Stravinsky's Pulcinella, for
example, is a neoclassical composition because it is stylistically similar to works of the Classical


The roots of western classical music lie in early Christian liturgical music, and its influences date
even further back to the Ancient Greeks. Development of individual tones and scales was done
by ancient Greeks such as Aristoxenus and the mathematician Pythagoras.[12] Pythagoras created
a tuning system and helped to codify musical notation. Ancient Greek instruments such as the
aulos (a reed instrument) and the lyre (a stringed instrument similar to a small harp) eventually
led to the modern day instruments of a classical orchestra.[13] The antecedent to the early period
was the era of ancient music from before the fall of the Roman Empire (476 AD). Very little
music survives from this time, most of it from ancient Greece.

The Early Period

The Medieval period includes music from after the fall of Rome to about 1400. Monophonic
chant, also called plainsong or Gregorian Chant, was the dominant form until about 1100.[14]
Polyphonic (multi-voiced) music developed from monophonic chant throughout the late Middle
Ages and into the Renaissance, including the more complex voicings of motets. The Renaissance
period was from 1400 – 1600. It was characterized by greater use of instrumentation, multiple
interweaving melodic lines and by the use of the first bass instruments. Social dancing became
more widespread, so musical forms appropriate to accompanying dance began to standardize.
It is in this time that the notation of music on a staff and other elements of musical notation
began to take its current shape.[15] This invention made possible the separation of the composition
of a piece of music from its transmission; without written music, transmission was oral, and
subject to change every time it was transmitted. With a musical score, a work of music could be
performed without requiring the composer's presence.[14] The invention of the movable-type
printing press in the 15th century had predictably far-reaching consequences on the preservation
and transmission of music.[16]

Typical stringed instruments of the Early Period include the harp, lute, vielle, and psaltery, while
wind instruments included the flute family (including recorder), shawm (an early member of the
oboe family), trumpet, and the bagpipe. Simple pipe organs existed, but were largely confined to
churches, although portable varieties existed.[17] Later in the period, early versions of keyboard
instruments like the clavichord and harpsichord began to appear. Stringed instruments such as
the viol had emerged by the 16th century, as had a wider variety of brass and reed instruments.
Printing enabled the standardization of descriptions and specifications of instruments, as well as
instruction in their use.[18]

The Common Practice Period

The Common Practice Period is when many of the notions that make up the idea of western
classical music took shape, standardized, or were codified in some way. It began with the
Baroque era, running from roughly 1600 to the middle of the 18th century. The Classical era
followed, ending roughly around 1820. The Romantic era ran through the 19th century, ending
about 1910.

Baroque music

Baroque music is characterized by the use of complex tonal counterpoint and the use of a basso
continuo, a continuous bass line. In this time, the beginnings of the sonata form took shape in the
canzona, as did a more formalized notion of theme and variations. The tonalities of major and
minor as means for managing dissonance and chromaticism in music took full shape.[19]

During the Baroque keyboard music played on the harpsichord and pipe organ became
increasingly popular, and the violin family of stringed instruments took the form we generally
see today. Opera as a staged musical drama began to differentiate itself from earlier musical and
dramatic forms, and vocal forms like the cantata and oratorio became more common.[20]
Instrumental ensembles began to distinguish and standardize by size, giving rise to the early
orchestra for larger ensembles, with chamber music being written for smaller groups of
instruments where parts are played by individual (instead of massed) instruments. The concerto
as a vehicle for solo performance accompanied by an orchestra became wide-spread, although
the relationship between soloist and orchestra was relatively simple. The theories surrounding
equal temperament began to be put in wider practice, especially as it enabled a wider range of
chromatic possibilities in hard-to-tune keyboard instruments. (For example, equal temperament
made possible Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier.)[21]
Classical period music

The Classical period, from about 1750 – 1820, established many of the norms of composition,
presentation and style, and was when the piano became the predominant keyboard instrument.
The basic forces required for an orchestra became somewhat standardized (although they would
grow as the potential of a wider array of instruments was developed in the following centuries).
Chamber music grew to include ensembles with as many as 8-10 performers for serenades.
Opera continued to develop, with regional styles in Italy, France, and German-speaking lands
predominating. The opera buffa, or comic opera, gained in popularity. The symphony came into
its own as a musical form, and the concerto was developed as a vehicle for displays of virtuoso
playing skill. Orchestras no longered required a harpsichord (which had been part of the
traditional continuo in the Baroque style), and were often led by the lead violinist (who we now
call the concertmaster).[22]

Wind instruments became more refined in the Classical period. While double reeded instruments
like the oboe and bassoon became somewhat standardized in the Baroque, the clarinet family of
single reeds did not receive wide use until Mozart expanded its role in orchestral, chamber and
concerto settings.

Romantic era music

The music of the Romantic era, from 1820 – 1910, was characterized by increased attention to
melody and rhythm, as well as expressive and emotional elements, paralleling romanticism in
other art forms. Musical forms began to break from the Classical era forms (even as those were
being codified), with free-form pieces with titles like nocturne, fantasia, and prelude being
written, where accepted ideas about the exposition and development of themes were ignored or
minimized.[23] The music became more chromatic, dissonant, and tonally colorful, with tensions
(with respect to accepted norms of the older forms) about key signatures increasing.[24] The art
song (or Lied) came to maturity in this era, as did the epic scales of grand opera, which
culminated with Richard Wagner's Ring cycle.[25]

In the 19th century, musical institutions were able to separate themselves from the control of
wealthy patrons, as composers and musicians were able to construct lives independent of the
whims of the sometimes fickle nobility. Increasing interest in music by the growing middle
classes throughout western Europe spurred the creation of organizations for the teaching,
performance, and preservation of music. The piano, which achieved its modern construction in
this era, in part due to industrial advances in metallurgy, became widely popular with the middle
class, whose demands for the instrument spurred a large number of piano builders. Most
symphony orchestras with long histories date their founding to this era.[24] Some musicians and
composers were the stars of the day; some, like Franz Liszt and Niccolo Paganini, fulfilled both

The family of instruments used, especially in orchestras, grew. A wider array of percussion
instruments began to appear. Brass instruments took on larger roles, as the introduction of rotary
valves made it possible for them to play a wider range of notes. The size of the orchestra
(typically around 40 in the Classical era) grew to be over 100.[24] (Gustav Mahler's 1906
Symphony of a Thousand, for example, has been performed with over 150 instrumentalists and
choirs over 400 strong.)

The influence of the European musical ideas also began to spread beyond the boundaries of
Europe, as European cultural ideas and institutions began to follow colonial expansion into other
parts of the world. There was also a rise within Europe, especially toward the end of the era, of
nationalism in music (echoing, in some cases, political sentiments of the time), as composers
such as Edvard Grieg, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Antonín Dvořák echoed traditional music
of their homelands in their compositions.[27]

20th century, modern, and contemporary music

The modern era began with Impressionist music from 1910-1920, which was dominated by
French composers who went against the traditional German ways of art and music. Impressionist
music by Erik Satie, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel used the pentatonic scale, long, flowing
phrases and free rhythms. Modernism, 1905-1985, marked a period when many composers
rejected certain values of the "common practice" period, such as traditional tonality, melody,
instrumentation, and structure. Composers, academics, and musicians developed extensions of
music theory and technique in this time. 20th century classical music, encompassing a wide
variety of post-Romantic styles composed through the year 1999, includes late Romantic,
Modern and Postmodern styles of composition. The term contemporary music is sometimes used
to describe music composed in the late 20th century through present day.

Significance of written notation

Classical music is considered primarily a written musical tradition, preserved in music notation,
as opposed to being transmitted orally, by rote, or in recordings of particular performances.
While there are differences between particular performances of a classical work, a piece of
classical music is generally held to transcend any interpretation of it. The use of musical notation
is an effective method for transmitting classical music, since the written music contains the
technical instructions for performing the work. The written score, however, does not usually
contain explicit instructions as to how to interpret the piece in terms of production or
performance, apart from directions for dynamics, tempo and expression (to a certain extent); this
is left to the discretion of the performers, who are guided by their personal experience and
musical education, their knowledge of the work's idiom, and the accumulated body of historic
performance practices.

However, improvisation once played an important role in classical music. A remnant of this
improvisatory tradition in classical music can be heard in the cadenza, a passage found mostly in
concertos and solo works, designed to allow skilled performers to exhibit their virtuoso skills on
the instrument. Traditionally this was improvised by the performer; however more often than
not, it is written for (or occasionally by) the performer beforehand.

Its written transmission, along with the veneration bestowed on certain classical works, has led to
the expectation that performers will play a work in a way that realizes in detail the original
intentions of the composer. During the 19th century the details that composers put in their scores
generally increased. Yet the opposite trend — admiration of performers for new "interpretations"
of the composer's work — can be seen, and it is not unknown for a composer to praise a
performer for achieving a better realization of the composer's original intent than the composer
was able to imagine. Thus, classical music performers often achieve very high reputations for
their musicianship, even if they do not compose themselves. Generally however, it is the
composers who are remembered more than the performers.

Another consequence of the primacy of the composer's written score is that improvisation plays a
relatively minor role in classical music, in sharp contrast to traditions like jazz, where
improvisation is central. Improvisation in classical music performance was far more common
during the Baroque era than in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and recently the
performance of such music by modern classical musicians has been enriched by a revival of the
old improvisational practices. During the classical period, Mozart and Beethoven sometimes
improvised the cadenzas to their piano concertos (and thereby encouraged others to do so), but
they also provided written cadenzas for use by other soloists.

One criterion used to distinguish works of the classical musical canon is that of cultural
durability. However, this is not a distinguishing mark of all classical music: while works by J. S.
Bach continue to be widely performed and highly regarded, music by many of Bach's
contemporaries is deemed mediocre and is rarely performed, even though it is squarely in the
"classical" realm. To some extent, the notion of such durability is a self-fulfilling prophecy (and
therefore a fallacy), simply because classical music is studied and preserved at much higher
levels than other music.

Popular music

Classical music has often incorporated elements or even taken material from popular music.
Examples include occasional music such as Brahms' use of student drinking songs in his
Academic Festival Overture, genres exemplified by Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera, and the
influence of jazz on early- and mid-twentieth century composers including Maurice Ravel, as
exemplified by the movement entitled "Blues" in his sonata for violin and piano.[28] Certain
postmodern, minimalist and postminimalist classical composers acknowledge a debt to popular

There are, likewise, numerous examples of influence flowing in the opposite direction, including
popular songs based on classical music, the use to which Pachelbel's Canon has been put since
the 1970s,[30] and the musical crossover phenomenon, where classical musicians have achieved
success in the popular music arena (one notable example is the "Hooked on Classics" series of
recordings made by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 1980s). Some rock bands such
as Emerson, Lake & Palmer have recorded classical compositions.
Folk music

Composers of classical music have often made use of folk music (music created by musicians
who are commonly not classically trained, often from a purely oral tradition). Some composers,
like Dvořák and Smetana,[31] have used folk themes to impart a nationalist flavor to their work,
while others (like Bartók) have used specific themes, lifted whole from their folk-music origins.


Certain staples of classical music are often used commercially (that is, either in advertising or in
the soundtracks of movies made for entertainment). In television commercials, several loud,
bombastically rhythmic orchestral passages have become clichés, particularly the opening of
Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra (made famous in 2001: A Space Odyssey) and the
opening section "O Fortuna" of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana; other examples in the same vein are
the Dies Irae from the Verdi Requiem, Edvard Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King from
Peer Gynt, the opening bars of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries
from Die Walküre, and excerpts of Aaron Copland's "Rodeo".

Similarly, movies and television often revert to standard, clichéd snatches of classical music to
convey refinement or opulence: some of the most-often heard pieces in this category include
Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and Mussorgsky's "A Night on Bald


Throughout history, parents from middle- and especially upper-class households have often
made sure that their children receive classical music training from a young age. Some parents
pursue music lessons for their children for social reasons or in an effort to instill a useful sense of
self-discipline. Some consider that a degree of knowledge of important works of classical music
is part of a good general education.

During the 1990s, several research papers and popular books emergence touting the so-called
Mozart effect: a temporary, small elevation of scores on certain tests as a result of listening to
Mozart. The popularized version of the controversial theory was expressed succinctly by a New
York Times music columnist: "researchers... have determined that listening to Mozart actually
makes you smarter."[33] Promoters marketed CDs claimed to induce the effect. Florida passed a
law requiring toddlers in state-run schools to listen to classical music every day, and in 1998 the
governor of Georgia budgeted $105,000 per year to provide every child born in Georgia with a
tape or CD of classical music. One of the co-authors of the original studies of the Mozart effect
commented "I don't think it can hurt. I'm all for exposing children to wonderful cultural
experiences. But I do think the money could be better spent on music education programs." [34]
Medieval music
Periods of European art music
Medieval (500 – 1400)
Renaissance (1400 – 1600)
The term medieval music encompasses European music
Common practice
written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the
Baroque (1600 – 1760) fall of the Roman Empire and ends in approximately the
Classical (1730 – 1820) middle of the fifteenth century. Establishing the end of the
Romantic (1815 – 1910) medieval era and the beginning of the Renaissance is
Modern and contemporary admittedly arbitrary; 1400 is used here.
20th century (1900 – 2000)
Contemporary (1975 – present)

• 1 Overview
o 1.1 Styles and trends
o 1.2 Instruments
o 1.3 Genres Overview
o 1.4 Theory and notation
• 2 Early medieval music (before 1150) Styles and trends
o 2.1 Early chant traditions
o 2.2 Gregorian chant The only medieval music which can be
o 2.3 Early polyphony: organum studied is that which was written down,
o 2.4 Liturgical drama and survived. Since creating musical
o 2.5 Goliards manuscripts was very expensive, due to the
• 3 High medieval music (1150-1300) expense of parchment, and the huge
o 3.1 Ars antiqua amount of time necessary for a scribe to
o 3.2 Troubadours and trouvères copy it all down, only wealthy institutions
• 4 Late medieval music (1300-1400) were able to create manuscripts which have
o 4.1 France: Ars nova survived to the present time. These
o 4.2 Italy: Trecento institutions generally included the church
o 4.3 Germany: Geisslerlieder and church institutions, such as
o 4.4 Mannerism and Ars subtilior monasteries; some secular music, as well
o 4.5 Transitioning to the Renaissance as sacred music, was also preserved by
• 5 Notes these institutions. These surviving
• 6 References manuscripts do not reflect much of the
• 7 Study and vocational training popular music of the time. At the start of
• 8 See also the era, the notated music is presumed to
be monophonic and homorhythmic with
• 9 External links
what appears to be a unison sung text and no notated instrumental support. Earlier medieval
notation had no way to specify rhythm, although neumatic notations gave clear phrasing ideas,
and somewhat later notations indicated rhythmic modes.

The simplicity of chant, with unison voice and natural declamation, is most common. The
notation of polyphony develops, and the assumption is that formalized polyphonic practices first
arose in this period. Harmony, in consonant intervals of perfect fifths, unisons, octaves, (and
later, perfect fourths) begins to be notated. Rhythmic notation allows for complex interactions
between multiple vocal lines in a repeatable fashion. The use of multiple texts and the notation of
instrumental accompaniment developed by the end of the era.


A musician plays the vielle in a fourteenth century Medieval


Instruments used to perform medieval music still exist, though in

different forms. The flute was once made of wood rather than silver or
other metal, and could be made as a side-blown or end-blown
instrument. The recorder, on the other hand, has more or less retained
its past form. The gemshorn is similar to the recorder in having finger
holes on its front, though it is really a member of the ocarina family.
One of the flute's predecessors, the pan flute, was popular in medieval
times, and is possibly of Hellenic origin. This instrument's pipes were
made of wood, and were graduated in length to produce different pitches.

Medieval music uses many plucked string instruments, such as lute, mandora, gittern and
psaltery. The dulcimers, similar in structure to the psaltery and zither, were originally plucked,
but became struck in the 14th century, after the arrival of the new technology that made metal
strings possible. The hurdy-gurdy was (and still is) a mechanical violin using a rosined wooden
wheel attached to a crank to "bow" its strings. Instruments without sound boxes such as the Jew's
harp were also popular in the time. Early versions of the organ, fiddle (or vielle), and trombone
(called the sackbut) existed as well.


In this era, music was both sacred and secular, although almost no early secular music has
survived, and since notation was a relatively late development, reconstruction of this music,
especially before the 12th century, is currently a matter of conjecture (see authentic

Theory and notation

In music theory, this period saw several advances over previous practice, mostly in the
conception and notation of rhythm. Previously, music was organized rhythmically into "longs"
and "breves" (in other words, "shorts"), though often without any clear regular differentiation
between which should be used. The most famous music theorist of the first half of the 13th
century, Johannes de Garlandia, was the author of the De mensurabili musica (about 1240), the
treatise which defined and most completely elucidated the rhythmic modes, a notational system
for rhythm in which one of six possible patterns was denoted by a particular succession of note-
shapes (organized in what is called "ligatures"). The melodic line, once it had its mode, would
generally remain in it, although rhythmic adjustments could be indicated by changes in the
expected pattern of ligatures, even to the extent of changing to another rhythmic mode. A
German theorist of a slightly later period, Franco of Cologne, was the first to describe a system
of notation in which differently shaped notes have entirely different rhythmic values (in the Ars
Cantus Mensurabilis of approximately 1260), an innovation which had a massive impact on the
subsequent history of European music. Most of the surviving notated music of the 13th century
uses the rhythmic modes as defined by Garlandia.

Philippe de Vitry is most famous in music history for writing the Ars Nova (1322), a treatise on
music which gave its name to the music of the entire era. His contributions to notation, in
particular notation of rhythm, were particularly important, and made possible the free and quite
complex music of the next hundred years. In some ways the modern system of rhythmic notation
began with Vitry, who broke free from the older idea of the rhythmic modes, short rhythmic
patterns that were repeated without being individually differentiated. The notational predecessors
of modern time meters also originate in the Ars Nova; for Franco, a breve (for a brief explanation
of the mensural notation in general, see the article Renaissance music) had equalled three
semibreves (that is, half breves) (on occasion, two, locally and with certain context; almost
always, however, these two semibreves were one of normal length and one of double length,
thereby taking the same space of time), and the same ternary division held for all larger and
smaller note values. By the time of Ars Nova, the breve could be pre-divided, for an entire
composition or section of one, into groups of two or three smaller semibreves by use of a
"mensuration sign," equivalent to our modern "time signature." This way, the "tempus" (denoting
the division of the breve, which ultimately achieved the same primacy over rhythmic structure as
our modern "measure") could be either "perfect," with ternary subdivision, or "imperfect," with
binary subdivision. Tempus perfectus was indicated by a circle, while tempus imperfectus was
denoted by a half-circle (our current "C" as a stand-in for the 4/4 time signature is actually a
holdover from this practice, not an abbreviation for "common time", as popularly believed). In a
similar fashion, the semibreve could in turn be divided into three "minima" or "minims"
(prolatio perfectus or major prolation) or two (prolatio imperfectus or minor prolation) and, at
the higher level, the longs into three or two breves (modus perfectus or perfect mode, or modus
imperfectus or imperfect mode respectively).

For the duration of the medieval period, most music would be composed primarily in perfect
tempus, with special effects created by sections of imperfect tempus; there is a great current
controversy among musicologists as to whether such sections were performed with a breve of
equal length or whether it changed, and if so, at what proportion. In the highly syncopated works
of the Ars subtilior, different voices of the same composition would sometimes be written in
different tempus signatures simultaneously.
Many scholars, citing a lack of positive attributory evidence, now consider "Vitry's" treatise to be
anonymous, but this does not diminish its importance for the history of rhythmic notation. The
first definitely identifiable scholar to accept and explain the mensural system was Johannes de
Muris (Jehan des Mars), who can be said to have done for it what Garlandia did for the rhythmic

For specific medieval music theorists, see also: Isidore of Seville, Aurelian of Réôme, Odo of
Cluny, Guido of Arezzo, Hermannus Contractus, Johannes Cotto (Johannes Afflighemensis),
Johannes de Muris, Franco of Cologne, Johannes de Garlandia (Johannes Gallicus), Anonymous
IV, Marchetto da Padova (Marchettus of Padua), Jacques of Liège, Johannes de Grocheo, Petrus
de Cruce (Pierre de la Croix), and Philippe de Vitry.

Early medieval music (before 1150)

Early chant traditions

Chant (or plainsong) is a monophonic sacred form which represents the earliest known music of
the Christian church. The Jewish Synagogue tradition of singing psalms was a strong influence
on Christian chanting.

Chant developed separately in several European centres. The most important were Rome, Spain,
Gaul, Milan, and Ireland. These chants were all developed to support the regional liturgies used
when celebrating the Mass there. Each area developed its own chants and rules for celebration.
In Spain, Mozarabic chant was used and shows the influence of North African music. The
Mozarabic liturgy even survived through Muslim rule, though this was an isolated strand and this
music was later suppressed in an attempt to enforce conformity on the entire liturgy. In Milan,
Ambrosian chant, named after St. Ambrose, was the standard, while Beneventan chant developed
around Benevento, another Italian liturgical center. Gallican chant was used in Gaul, and Celtic
chant in Ireland and Great Britain.

Around 1011 AD, the Roman Catholic Church wanted to standardize the Mass and chant. At this
time, Rome was the religious centre of western Europe, and Paris was the political centre. The
standardization effort consisted mainly of combining these two (Roman and Gallican) regional
liturgies. This body of chant became known as Gregorian Chant. By the 12th and 13th centuries,
Gregorian chant had superseded all the other Western chant traditions, with the exception of the
Ambrosian chant in Milan, and the Mozarabic chant in a few specially designated Spanish

Gregorian chant

Early polyphony: organum

Around the end of the ninth century, singers in monasteries such as St. Gall in Switzerland began
experimenting with adding another part to the chant, generally a voice in parallel motion, singing
in mostly perfect fourths or fifths with the original tune (see interval). This development is called
organum, and represents the beginnings of harmony and, ultimately, counterpoint. Over the next
several centuries organum developed in several ways.

The most significant was the creation of "florid organum" around 1100, sometimes known as the
school of St. Martial (named after a monastery in south-central France, which contains the best-
preserved manuscript of this repertory). In "florid organum" the original tune would be sung in
long notes while an accompanying voice would sing many notes to each one of the original,
often in a highly elaborate fashion, all the while emphasizing the perfect consonances (fourths,
fifths and octaves) as in the earlier organa. Later developments of organum occurred in England,
where the interval of the third was particularly favoured, and where organa were likely
improvised against an existing chant melody, and at Notre Dame in Paris, which was to be the
centre of musical creative activity throughout the thirteenth century.

Much of the music from the early medieval period is anonymous. Some of the names may have
been poets and lyric writers, and the tunes for which they wrote words may have been composed
by others. Attribution of monophonic music of the medieval period is not always reliable.
Surviving manuscripts from this period include the Musica Enchiriadis, Codex Calixtinus of
Santiago de Compostela, and the Winchester Troper.

For information about specific composers or poets writing during the early medieval period, see
Pope Gregory I, St. Godric, Hildegard of Bingen, Hucbald, Notker Balbulus, Odo of Arezzo,
Odo of Cluny, and Tutilo.

Liturgical drama

Another musical tradition of Europe originating during the early Middle Ages was the liturgical
drama. In its original form, it may represent a survival of Roman drama with Christian stories -
mainly the Gospel, the Passion, and the lives of the saints - grafted on. Every part of Europe had
some sort of tradition of musical or semi-musical drama in the Middle Ages, involving acting,
speaking, singing and instrumental accompaniment in some combination. Probably these dramas
were performed by travelling actors and musicians. Many have been preserved sufficiently to
allow modern reconstruction and performance (for example the Play of Daniel, which has been
recently recorded).


The Goliards were itinerant poet-musicians of Europe from the tenth to the middle of the
thirteenth century. Most were scholars or ecclesiastics, and they wrote and sang in Latin.
Although many of the poems have survived, very little of the music has. They were possibly
influential — even decisively so — on the troubadour-trouvère tradition which was to follow.
Most of their poetry is secular and, while some of the songs celebrate religious ideals, others are
frankly profane, dealing with drunkenness, debauchery and lechery.
High medieval music (1150-1300)
Ars antiqua

The flowering of the Notre Dame school of polyphony from around 1150 to 1250 corresponded
to the equally impressive achievements in Gothic architecture: indeed the centre of activity was
at the cathedral of Notre Dame itself. Sometimes the music of this period is called the Parisian
school, or Parisian organum, and represents the beginning of what is conventionally known as
Ars antiqua. This was the period in which rhythmic notation first appeared in western music,
mainly a context-based method of rhythmic notation known as the rhythmic modes.

This was also the period in which concepts of formal structure developed which were attentive to
proportion, texture, and architectural effect. Composers of the period alternated florid and
discant organum (more note-against-note, as opposed to the succession of many-note melismas
against long-held notes found in the florid type), and created several new musical forms:
clausulae, which were melismatic sections of organa extracted and fitted with new words and
further musical elaboration; conductus, which was a song for one or more voices to be sung
rhythmically, most likely in a procession of some sort; and tropes, which were rearrangements of
older chants with new words and sometimes new music. All of these genres save one were based
upon chant; that is, one of the voices, (usually three, though sometimes four) nearly always the
lowest (the tenor at this point) sung a chant melody, though with freely composed note-lengths,
over which the other voices sang organum. The exception to this method was the conductus, a
two-voice composition that was freely composed in its entirety.

The motet, one of the most important musical forms of the high Middle Ages and Renaissance,
developed initially during the Notre Dame period out of the clausula, especially the form using
multiple voices as elaborated by Pérotin, who paved the way for this particularly by replacing
many of his predecessor (as canon of the cathedral) Léonin's lengthy florid clausulae with
substitutes in a discant style. Gradually, there came to be entire books of these substitutes,
available to be fitted in and out of the various chants. Since, in fact, there were more than can
possibly have been used in context, it is probable that the clausulae came to be performed
independently, either in other parts of the mass, or in private devotions. The clausulae, thus
practised, became the motet when troped with non-liturgical words, and was further developed
into a form of great elaboration, sophistication and subtlety in the fourteenth century, the period
of Ars nova.

Surviving manuscripts from this era include the Codex Montpellier, Codex Bamberg, and El
Codex musical de Las Huelgas.

Composers of this time include Léonin, Pérotin, W. de Wycombe, Adam de St. Victor, and
Petrus de Cruce (Pierre de la Croix). Petrus is credited with the innovation of writing more than
three semibreves to fit the length of a breve. Coming before the innovation of imperfect tempus,
this practice inaugurated the era of what are now called "Petronian" motets. These late 13th-
century works are in three to four parts and have multiple texts sung simultaneously. These texts
can be either sacred or secular in subject, and with Latin and French mixed. The Petronian motet
is a highly complex genre, given its mixture of several semibreve breves with rhythmic modes
and sometimes (with increasing frequency) substitution of secular songs for chant in the tenor.
Indeed, ever-increasing rhythmic complexity would be a fundamental characteristic of the 14th
century, though music in France, Italy, and England would take quite different paths during that

Troubadours and trouvères

The music of the troubadours and trouvères was a vernacular tradition of monophonic secular
song, probably accompanied by instruments, sung by professional, occasionally itinerant,
musicians who were as skilled as poets as they were singers and instrumentalists. The language
of the troubadours was Occitan (also known as the langue d'oc, or Provençal); the language of
the trouvères was Old French (also known as langue d'oil). The period of the troubadours
corresponded to the flowering of cultural life in Provence which lasted through the twelfth
century and into the first decade of the thirteenth. Typical subjects of troubadour song were war,
chivalry and courtly love. The period of the troubadours wound down after the Albigensian
Crusade, the fierce campaign by Pope Innocent III to eliminate the Cathar heresy (and northern
barons' desire to appropriate the wealth of the south). Surviving troubadours went either to
Spain, northern Italy or northern France (where the trouvère tradition lived on), where their skills
and techniques contributed to the later developments of secular musical culture in those places.

The music of the trouvères was similar to that of the troubadours, but was able to survive into the
thirteenth century unaffected by the Albigensian Crusade. Most of the more than two thousand
surviving trouvère songs include music, and show a sophistication as great as that of the poetry it

The Minnesinger tradition was the Germanic counterpart to the activity of the troubadours and
trouvères to the west. Unfortunately, few sources survive from the time; the sources of
Minnesang are mostly from two or three centuries after the peak of the movement, leading to
some controversy over their accuracy. Among the Minnesingers with surviving music are
Wolfram von Eschenbach, Walther von der Vogelweide, and Niedhart von Reuenthal.
Troubadours with surviving melodies

Rigaut de Berbezilh Raimon de Miraval Raimon Jordan Raimbaut de Vaqueiras Raimbaut d'Aurenga Pons de Capduoill Pons d'Ortaffa

Composers of the high and late medieval era

Peirol Peire Vidal Peire Raimon de Tolosa Peire Cardenal Peire d'Alvernhe Monge de Montaudon Marcabru Jordan Bonel Jaufre Rudel

hem de Saint Leidier Guilhem Magret Guilhem Augier Novella Guilhem Ademar Gui d'Ussel Gaucelm Faidit Folquet de Marselha Daude de Pradas

Berenguier de Palazol Beatritz de Dia Arnaut de Maruoill Arnaut Daniel Albertet de Sestaro Aimeric de Peguilhan Aimeric de Belenoi
Late medieval music (1300-1400)
France: Ars nova

The beginning of the Ars nova is one of the few clean chronological divisions in medieval music,
since it corresponds to the publication of the Roman de Fauvel, a huge compilation of poetry and
music, in 1310 and 1314. The Roman de Fauvel is a satire on abuses in the medieval church, and
is filled with medieval motets, lais, rondeaux and other new secular forms. While most of the
music is anonymous, it contains several pieces by Philippe de Vitry, one of the first composers of
the isorhythmic motet, a development which distinguishes the fourteenth century. The
isorhythmic motet was perfected by Guillaume de Machaut, the finest composer of the time.

During the Ars nova era, secular music acquired a polyphonic sophistication formerly found only
in sacred music, a development not surprising considering the secular character of the early
Renaissance (and it should be noted that while this music is typically considered to be
"medieval", the social forces that produced it were responsible for the beginning of the literary
and artistic Renaissance in Italy—the distinction between Middle Ages and Renaissance is a
blurry one, especially considering arts as different as music and painting). The term "Ars nova"
(new art, or new technique) was coined by Philippe de Vitry in his treatise of that name
(probably written in 1322), in order to distinguish the practice from the music of the immediately
preceding age.

The dominant secular genre of the Ars Nova was the chanson, as it would continue to be in
France for another two centuries. These chansons were composed in musical forms
corresponding to the poetry they set, which were in the so-called formes fixes of rondeau,
ballade, and virelai. These forms significantly affected the development of musical structure in
ways that are felt even today; for example, the ouvert-clos rhyme-scheme shared by all three
demanded a musical realization which contributed directly to the modern notion of antecedent
and consequent phrases. It was in this period, too, in which began the long tradition of setting the
mass ordinary. This tradition started around mid-century with isolated or paired settings of
Kyries, Glorias, etc., but Machaut composed what is thought to be the first complete mass
conceived as one composition. The sound world of Ars Nova music is very much one of linear
primacy and rhythmic complexity. "Resting" intervals are the fifth and octave, with thirds and
sixths considered dissonances. Leaps of more than a sixth in individual voices are not
uncommon, leading to speculation of instrumental participation at least in secular performance.

Surviving French manuscripts include the Ivrea Codex and the Apt Codex.

For information about specific French composers writing in late medieval era, see Jehan de
Lescurel, Philippe de Vitry, Guillaume de Machaut, Borlet, Solage, and François Andrieu.
Italy: Trecento

Most of the music of Ars nova was French in origin; however, the term is often loosely applied
to all of the music of the fourteenth century, especially to include the secular music in Italy.
There this period was often referred to as Trecento.

Italian music has always, it seems, been known for its lyrical or melodic character, and this goes
back to the 14th century in many respects. Italian secular music of this time (what little surviving
liturgical music there is, is similar to the French except for somewhat different notation) featured
what has been called the cantalina style, with a florid top voice supported by two (or even one; a
fair amount of Italian Trecento music is for only two voices) that are more regular and slower
moving. This type of texture remained a feature of Italian music in the popular 15th and 16th
century secular genres as well, and was an important influence on the eventual development of
the trio texture that revolutionized music in the 17th.

There were three main forms for secular works in the Trecento. One was the madrigal, not the
same as that of 150-250 years later, but with a verse/refrain-like form. Three-line stanzas, each
with different words, alternated with a two-line ritornello, with the same text at each appearance.
Perhaps we can see the seeds of the subsequent late-Renaissance and Baroque ritornello in this
device; it too returns again and again, recognizable each time, in contrast with its surrounding
disparate sections. Another form, the caccia ("chase,") was written for two voices in a canon at
the unison. Sometimes, this form also featured a ritornello, which was occasionally also in a
canonic style. Usually, the name of this genre provided a double meaning, since the texts of
caccia were primarily about hunts and related outdoor activities, or at least action-filled scenes.
The third main form was the ballata, which was roughly equivalent to the French virelai.

Surviving Italian manuscripts include the Squarcialupi Codex and the Rossi Codex.

For information about specific Italian composers writing in the late medieval era, see Francesco
Landini, Gherardello da Firenze, Andrea da Firenze, Lorenzo da Firenze, Paolo da Firenze
(Paolo Tenorista), Giovanni da Firenze (aka Giovanni da Cascia), Bartolino da Padova, Jacopo
da Bologna, Donato da Cascia, Lorenzo Masini, Niccolò da Perugia, and Maestro Piero.

Germany: Geisslerlieder

The Geisslerlieder were the songs of wandering bands of flagellants, who sought to appease the
wrath of an angry God by penitential music accompanied by mortification of their bodies. There
were two separate periods of activity of Geisslerlied: one around the middle of the thirteenth
century, from which, unfortunately, no music survives (although numerous lyrics do); and
another from 1349, for which both words and music survive intact due to the attention of a single
priest who wrote about the movement and recorded its music. This second period corresponds to
the spread of the Black Death in Europe, and documents one of the most terrible events in
European history. Both periods of Geisslerlied activity were mainly in Germany.

There was also French-influenced polyphony written in German areas at this time, but it was
somewhat less sophisticated than its models. In fairness to the mostly anonymous composers of
this repertoire, however, most of the surviving manuscripts seem to have been copied with
extreme incompetence, and are filled with errors that make a truly thorough evaluation of the
music's quality impossible.

Mannerism and Ars subtilior

The chanson Belle, bonne, sage by Baude Cordier, an Ars subtilior

piece included in the Chantilly Codex

As often seen at the end of any musical era, the end of the
medieval era is marked by a highly manneristic style known as Ars
subtilior. In some ways, this was an attempt to meld the French
and Italian styles. This music was highly stylized, with a rhythmic
complexity that was not matched until the 20th century. In fact, not
only was the rhythmic complexity of this repertoire largely
unmatched for five and a half centuries, with extreme
syncopations, mensural trickery, and even examples of
augenmusik (such as a chanson by Baude Cordier written out in manuscript in the shape of a
heart), but also its melodic material was quite complex as well, particularly in its interaction with
the rhythmic structures. Already discussed under Ars Nova has been the practice of isorhythm,
which continued to develop through late-century and in fact did not achieve its highest degree of
sophistication until early in the 15th century. Instead of using isorhythmic techniques in one or
two voices, or trading them among voices, some works came to feature a pervading isorhythmic
texture which rivals the integral serialism of the 20th century in its systematic ordering of
rhythmic and tonal elements. The term "mannerism" was applied by later scholars, as it often is,
in response to an impression of sophistication being practised for its own sake, a malady which
some authors have felt infected the Ars subtilior.

One of the most important extant sources of Ars Subtilior chansons is the Chantilly Codex.

For information about specific composers writing music in Ars subtilior style, see Anthonello de
Caserta, Philippus de Caserta (aka Philipoctus de Caserta), Johannes Ciconia, Matteo da Perugia,
Lorenzo da Firenze, Grimace, Jacob Senleches, and Baude Cordier.

Transitioning to the Renaissance

Demarcating the end of the medieval era and the beginning of the Renaissance, with regards to
the composition of music, is problematic. While the music of the fourteenth century is fairly
obviously medieval in conception, the music of the early fifteenth century is often conceived as
belonging to a transitional period, not only retaining some of the ideals of the end of the Middle
Ages (such as a type of polyphonic writing in which the parts differ widely from each other in
character, as each has its specific textural function), but also showing some of the characteristic
traits of the Renaissance (such as the international style developing through the diffusion of
Franco-Flemish musicians throughout Europe, and in terms of texture an increasing equality of
parts). The Renaissance began early in Italy, but musical innovation there lagged far behind that
of France and England; the Renaissance came late to England, but musical innovation there was
ahead of continental Europe.

Music historians do not agree on when the Renaissance era began, but most historians agree that
England was still a medieval society in the early fifteenth century (see a discussion of
periodization issues of the Middle Ages). While there is no consensus, 1400 is a useful marker,
because it was around that time that the Renaissance came into full swing in Italy.

The increasing reliance on the interval of the third as a consonance is one of the most
pronounced features of transition into the Renaissance. Polyphony, in use since the 12th century,
became increasingly elaborate with highly independent voices throughout the 14th century. With
John Dunstable and other English composers, partly through the local technique of faburden (an
improvisatory process in which a chant melody and a written part predominantly in parallel
sixths above it are ornamented by one sung in perfect fourths below the latter, and which later
took hold on the continent as "fauxbordon"), the interval of the third emerges as an important
musical development; because of this Contenance Angloise ("English countenance"), English
composers' music is often regarded as the first to sound less truly bizarre to modern, unschooled
audiences. English stylistic tendencies in this regard had come to fruition and began to influence
continental composers as early as the 1420s, as can be seen in works of the young Dufay, among
others. While the Hundred Years' War continued, English nobles, armies, their chapels and
retinues, and therefore some of their composers, travelled in France and performed their music
there; it must also of course be remembered that the English controlled portions of northern
France at this time.

English manuscripts include the Worcester Fragments, the Old St. Andrews Music Book, the Old
Hall Manuscript, and Egerton Manuscript.

For information about specific composers who are considered transitional between the medieval
and the Renaissance, see Roy Henry, Arnold de Lantins, Leonel Power, John Dunstaple,
Guillaume Dufay, and Gilles Binchois.
Renaissance music
Periods of European art music Renaissance music is European music written during the
Early Renaissance, approximately 1400 - 1600. Defining the
Medieval (500 – 1400) beginning of the era is difficult, given the lack of abrupt
Renaissance (1400 – 1600) shifts in musical thinking during the 15th century. The
process by which music acquired "Renaissance"
Common practice
characteristics was a gradual one, and musicologists have
Baroque (1600 – 1760) placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the
Classical (1730 – 1820) 1470s. In addition, the Italian humanist movement,
Romantic (1815 – 1910) rediscovering and reinterpreting the aesthetics of ancient
Modern and contemporary Greece and Rome, influenced the development of musical
20th century (1900 – 2000) style during the period.
Contemporary (1975 – present)

• 1 Overview
o 1.1 Style and trends
o 1.2 Genres
o 1.3 Theory and notation
o 1.4 Composers of the Renaissance Renaissance
• 2 Early Renaissance music (1400 – 1467)
• 3 Middle Renaissance music (1467 – 1534) Topics
• 4 Late Renaissance music (1534 – 1600)
o 4.1 Mannerism Architecture
o 4.2 Transition to the Baroque Dance
• 5 Instruments of the Renaissance Literature
• 6 See also Music
• 7 Sources and further reading Painting
• 8 External links Science
Overview England
Style and trends Germany
The increasing reliance on the interval of the third as a consonance is one of Netherlands
the most pronounced features of early Renaissance European art music (in Northern Europe
the Middle Ages, thirds had been considered dissonances: see interval). Poland
Polyphony, in use since the 12th century, became increasingly elaborate Spain
with highly independent voices throughout the 14th century: the beginning of the 15th century
showed simplification, with the voices often striving for smoothness. This was possible because
of a greatly increased vocal range in music – in the Middle Ages, the narrow range made
necessary frequent crossing of parts, thus requiring a greater contrast between them.

The modal (as opposed to tonal) characteristics of Renaissance music began to break down
towards the end of the period with the increased use of root motions of fifths. This later
developed into one of the defining characteristics of tonality.


Principal liturgical forms which endured throughout the entire Renaissance period were masses
and motets, with some other developments towards the end, especially as composers of sacred
music began to adopt secular forms (such as the madrigal) for their own designs.

Common sacred genres were the mass, the motet, the madrigale spirituale, and the laude.

During the period, secular music had an increasingly wide distribution, with a wide variety of
forms, but one must be cautious about assuming an explosion in variety: since printing made
music more widely available, much more has survived from this era than from the preceding
Medieval era, and probably a rich store of popular music of the late Middle Ages is irretrievably
lost. Secular music included songs for one or many voices, forms such as the frottola, chanson
and madrigal.

Secular vocal genres included the madrigal, the frottola, the caccia, the chanson in several forms
(rondeau, virelai, bergerette, ballade, musique mesurée), the canzonetta, the villancico, the
villanella, the villotta, and the lute song. Mixed forms such as the motet-chanson and the secular
motet also appeared.

Purely instrumental music included consort music for recorder or viol and other instruments, and
dances for various ensembles. Common genres were the toccata, the prelude, the ricercar, the
canzona, and intabulation (intavolatura, intabulierung). Instrumental ensembles for dances might
play a basse danse (or bassedanza), a pavane, a galliard, an allemande, or a courante.

Towards the end of the period, the early dramatic precursors of opera such as monody, the
madrigal comedy, and the intermedio are seen.

Theory and notation

According to Margaret Bent (1998), "Renaissance notation is under-prescriptive by our

standards; when translated into modern form it acquires a prescriptive weight that overspecifies
and distorts its original openness."

Ockeghem, Kyrie "Au travail suis," excerpt

Renaissance compositions were notated only in individual parts; scores were extremely rare, and
barlines were not used. Note values were generally larger than are in use today; the primary unit
of beat was the semibreve, or whole note. As had been the case since the Ars Nova (see
Medieval music), there could be either two or three of these for each breve (a double-whole
note), which may be looked on as equivalent to the modern "measure," though it was itself a note
value and a measure is not. The situation can be considered this way: it is the same as the rule by
which in modern music a quarter-note may equal either two eighth-notes or three, which would
be written as a "triplet." By the same reckoning, there could be two or three of the next smallest
note, the "minim," (equivalent to the modern "half note") to each semibreve. These different
permutations were called "perfect/imperfect tempus" at the level of the breve–semibreve
relationship, "perfect/imperfect prolation" at the level of the semibreve–minim, and existed in all
possible combinations with each other. Three-to-one was called "perfect," and two-to-one
"imperfect." Rules existed also whereby single notes could be halved or doubled in value
("imperfected" or "altered," respectively) when preceded or followed by other certain notes.
Notes with black noteheads (such as quarter notes) occurred less often. This development of
white mensural notation may be a result of the increased use of paper (rather than vellum), as the
weaker paper was less able to withstand the scratching required to fill in solid noteheads;
notation of previous times, written on vellum, had been black. Other colors, and later, filled-in
notes, were used routinely as well, mainly to enforce the aforementioned imperfections or
alterations and to call for other temporary rhythmical changes.

Accidentals were not always specified, somewhat as in certain fingering notations (tablatures)
today. However, Renaissance musicians would have been highly trained in dyadic counterpoint
and thus possessed this and other information necessary to read a score, "what modern notation
requires [accidentals] would then have been perfectly apparent without notation to a singer
versed in counterpoint." See musica ficta. A singer would interpret his or her part by figuring
cadential formulas with other parts in mind, and when singing together musicians would avoid
parallel octaves and fifths or alter their cadential parts in light of decisions by other musicians
(Bent, 1998).

It is through contemporary tablatures for various plucked instruments that we have gained much
information about what accidentals were performed by the original practitioners.

For information on specific theorists, see Johannes Tinctoris, Franchinus Gaffurius, Heinrich
Glarean, Pietro Aron, Nicola Vicentino, Tomás de Santa María, Gioseffo Zarlino, Vicente
Lusitano, Vincenzo Galilei, Giovanni Artusi, Johannes Nucius, and Pietro Cerone.
Composers of the Renaissance
Early Renaissance music (1400 – 1467)
This group gradually dropped the late Medieval period's complex devices of isorhythm and
extreme syncopation, resulting in a more limpid and flowing style. What their music "lost" in
rhythmic complexity, however, it gained in rhythmic vitality, as a "drive to the cadence" became
a prominent feature around mid-century.

Middle Renaissance music (1467 – 1534)

In the early 1470s, music starts to be printed using a printing press. Music printing had a major
effect on how music spread for not only did a printed piece of music reach a larger audience then
any manuscript ever could, it did it far cheaper as well. Also during this century, a tradition of
famous makers began for many instruments. These makers were masters of their craft. An
example is Neuschel for his trumpets.

Towards the end of the 15th century, polyphonic sacred music (as exemplified in the masses of
Johannes Ockeghem and Jacob Obrecht) had once again become more complex, in a manner that
can perhaps be seen as correlating to the stunning detail in the painting at the time. Ockeghem,
particularly, was fond of canon, both contrapuntal and mensural. He composed a mass in which
all the parts are derived canonically from one musical line.

It was in the opening decades of the next century that music felt in a tactus (think of the modern
time signature) of two semibreves-to-a-breve began to be as common as that with three
semibreves-to-a-breve, as had prevailed prior to that time.

In the early 16th century, there is another trend towards simplification, as can be seen to some
degree in the work of Josquin des Prez and his contemporaries in the Franco-Flemish School,
then later in that of G. P. Palestrina, who was partially reacting to the strictures of the Council of
Trent, which discouraged excessively complex polyphony as inhibiting understanding the text.
Early 16th-century Franco-Flemings moved away from the complex systems of canonic and
other mensural play of Ockeghem's generation, tending toward points of imitation and duet or
trio sections within an overall texture that grew to five and six voices. They also began, even
before the Tridentine reforms, to insert ever-lengthening passages of homophony, to underline
important text or points of articulation. Palestrina, on the other hand, came to cultivate a freely
flowing style of counterpoint in a thick, rich texture within which consonance followed
dissonance on a nearly beat-by-beat basis, and suspensions ruled the day (see counterpoint). By
now, tactus was generally two semibreves per breve with three per breve used for special effects
and climactic sections; this was a nearly exact reversal of the prevailing technique a century

Late Renaissance music (1534 – 1600)

In Venice, from about 1534 until around 1600, an impressive polychoral style developed, which
gave Europe some of the grandest, most sonorous music composed up until that time, with
multiple choirs of singers, brass and strings in different spatial locations in the Basilica San
Marco di Venezia (see Venetian School). These multiple revolutions spread over Europe in the
next several decades, beginning in Germany and then moving to Spain, France and England
somewhat later, demarcating the beginning of what we now know as the Baroque musical era.

The Roman School was a group of composers of predominantly church music in Rome, spanning
the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Many of the composers had a direct connection to
the Vatican and the papal chapel, though they worked at several churches; stylistically they are
often contrasted with the Venetian School of composers, a concurrent movement which was
much more progressive. By far the most famous composer of the Roman School is Giovanni
Pierluigi da Palestrina, whose name has been associated for four hundred years with smooth,
clear, polyphonic perfection.

The brief but intense flowering of the musical madrigal in England, mostly from 1588 to 1627,
along with the composers who produced them, is known as the English Madrigal School. The
English madrigals were a cappella, predominantly light in style, and generally began as either
copies or direct translations of Italian models. Most were for three to six voices.

Musica reservata is either a style or a performance practice in a cappella vocal music of the
latter, mainly in Italy and southern Germany, involving refinement, exclusivity, and intense
emotional expression of sung text.

In addition, many composers observed a division in their own works between a prima pratica
(music in the Renaissance polyphonic style) and a seconda pratica (music in the new style)
during the first part of the 17th century.


In the late 16th century, as the Renaissance era closes, an extremely manneristic style develops.
In secular music, especially in the madrigal, there was a trend towards complexity and even
extreme chromaticism (as exemplified in madrigals of Luzzaschi, Marenzio, and Gesualdo). The
term "mannerism" derives from art history.

Transition to the Baroque

Beginning in Florence, there was an attempt to revive the dramatic and musical forms of Ancient
Greece, through the means of monody, a form of declaimed music over a simple
accompaniment; a more extreme contrast with the preceding polyphonic style would be hard to
find; this was also, at least at the outset, a secular trend. These musicians were known as the
Florentine Camerata.

We have already noted some of the musical developments that helped to usher in the Baroque,
but for further explanation of this transition, see antiphon, concertato, monody, madrigal, and
opera, as well as the works given under "Sources and further reading."

For a more thorough discussion of the transition to the Baroque specifically pertaining to
instrument music, see Transition from Renaissance to Baroque in instrumental music.
Instruments of the Renaissance
Many instruments originated during the Renaissance; others were variations of, or improvements
upon, instruments that had existed previously. Some have survived to the present day; others
have disappeared, only to be recreated in order to perform music of the period on authentic
instruments. As in the modern day, instruments may be classified as brass, strings, percussion,
and woodwind.

Brass Brass instruments in the Renaissance were traditionally played by professionals. Some of
the more common brass instruments that were played:

• Slide trumpet: Similar to the trombone of today except that instead of a section of the
body sliding, only a small part of the body near the mouthpiece and the mouthpiece itself
is stationary. Also the body was an S-shape so it was rather unwieldy, but was suitable
for the slow dance music which it was most commonly used for.

• Cornett: Made of wood and was played like the recorder (will be mentioned at greater
length later on) but blown like a trumpet. It was commonly made in several sizes, the
largest was called the serpent. The serpent became practically the only cornetto used by
the early seventeenth century while other ranges were replaced by the violin. It was said
to be the closest instrument to the human voice with the ability to use dynamics and

• Trumpet: Early trumpets had no valves, and were limited to the tones present in the
overtone series. They were also made in different sizes. Although commonly depicted
being used by angels, their use in churches was limited, a prominent exception being the
music of the Venetian School. They were most commonly used in the military and for the
announcement of royalty. Period trumpets were found to have two rings soldered to them,
one near the mouthpiece and another near the bell.

• Sackbut(sometimes sackbutt or sagbutt): A different name for the trombone, which

replaced the slide trumpet by the end of the fifteenth century. Sackbuts were used almost
exclusively in church music and faced behind the player.

Strings As a family strings were used in many circumstances, both sacred and secular. A few
members of this family include:


• Viol: This instrument, developed in the 1400s, commonly has six strings. It was usually
played with a bow. It has structural qualities similar to the Spanish vihuela; its main
separating trait is its larger size. This changed the posture of the musician in order to rest
it against the floor or between the legs in a manner similar to the cello. Its similarities to
the vihuela were sharp waist-cuts, similar frets, a flat back, thin ribs, and identical tuning.
This is the predecessor of the modern-day violin, viola, and violoncello (cello).

• Lyre: Its construction is similar to a small harp, although instead of being plucked, it is
strummed with a plectrum. Its strings varied in quantity from four, seven, and ten,
depending on the era. It was played with the right hand, while the left hand silenced the
notes that were not desired. Newer lyres were modified to be played with a bow.

• Irish Harp: Also called the Clàrsach in Scottish Gaelic, or the Cláirseach in Irish, during
the Middle Ages it was the most popular instrument of Ireland and Scotland. Due to its
significance on Irish history it is seen even on the Guinness label, and is Ireland's national
symbol even to this day. To be played it is usually plucked. Its size can vary greatly from
a harp that can be played in one's lap to a full-size harp that is placed on the floor

• Hurdy gurdy: (Also known as the wheel fiddle), in which the strings are sounded by a
wheel which the strings pass over. Its functionality can be compared to that of a
mechanical violin, in that its bow (wheel) is turned by a crank. Its distinctive sound is
mainly because of its "drone strings" which provide a constant pitch similar in their
sound to that of bagpipes.

• See main article: Cittern.

• See main article: Lute.

• See main article: Harpsichord.

• See main article: Virginal.

Percussion Some Renaissance percussion instruments include the triangle, the Jew's harp, the
tambourine, the bells, the rumble-pot, and various kinds of drums.

• Tambourine: In the early ages the tambourine was originally a frame drum without the
jingles attached to the side. This instrument soon evolved and took on the name of the
timbrel during the medieval crusades, at which time it acquired the jingles. The
tambourine was often found with a single skin, as it made it easy for a dancer to play. The
skin that surrounds frame is called the vellum, and produces the beat by striking the
surface with the knuckles, fingertips, or hand. It could also be played by shaking the
instrument, allowing the tambourine's jingles to "clank" and "jingle".

• Jew's harp: An instrument often known for its historical purpose for men "serenading"
their sweethearts[citation needed], It even went to the extent of being repeatedly banned for its
"endangerment on female virtue"[citation needed], it is also believed that it was banned because
of its construction of silver, and due to the great demand on silver in the 19th Century
Austria this was another reason for its outlawing. A steel instrument that produces sound
using shapes of the mouth and attempting to pronounce different vowels with ones
mouth. The loop at the bent end of the tongue of the instrument is plucked in different
scales of vibration creating different tones.

Woodwinds (Aerophones) The woodwind instruments (Aerophones) use a column of air

vibrating within a pipe that has little holes along it to generate vibration with the airflow through
the pipe and control the length of the sound waves produced by the vibrating air. A player could
create this air column by using a few different methods. The first is blowing across a mouth hole
(as would be done with flutes). The second is blowing into a mouthpiece with a single reed (as
would be found with the clarinet or saxophone) or a double reed (which is used with oboes and

The woodwind instruments of the Middle Ages are not the same as modern day woodwinds.
They were more eccentric and exotic. For example, you would find that modern woodwinds fit
the natural position of the hand. Woodwinds in the Renaissance used simple holes drilled in the

• Shawm: A typical oriental shawm is keyless and is about a foot long with seven finger
holes and a thumb hole. The pipes were also most commonly made of wood and many of
them had carvings and decorations on them. It was the most popular double reed
instrument of the renaissance period; it was commonly used in the streets with drums and
trumpets because of its brilliant, piercing, and often deafening sound. To play the shawm
a person puts the entire reed in their mouth, puffs out their cheeks, and blows into the
pipe whilst breathing through their nose.

• Reed pipe: Made from a single short length of cane with a mouthpiece, four or five finger
holes, and reed fashioned from it. The reed is made by cutting out a small tongue, but
leaving the base attached. It is the predecessor of the saxophone and the clarinet.

• Hornpipe: Same as reed pipe but with a bell at the end.

• Bagpipe/Bladderpipe: Believe to have been invented by herdsmen who thought to use a

bag made out of sheep or goat skin and would provide air pressure so that when its player
takes a breath, the player only needs to squeeze the bag tucked underneath their arm to
continue the tone. The mouth pipe has a simple round piece of leather hinged on to the
bag end of the pipe and acts like a non-return valve.

As an aside, the reed is located inside the long metal mouthpiece, known as a bocal.

• Panpipe: Designed to have sixteen wooden tubes with a stopper at one end and open on
the other. Each tube is a different size (thereby producing a different tone), giving it a
range of an octave and a half. The player can then place their lips against the desired tube
and blow across it.
• Transverse flute: The Transverse flute is similar to the modern flute with a mouth hole
near the stoppered end and finger holes along the body. The player blows in the side and
holds the flute to the right side.

• Recorder: The recorder is common instrument that is still used today (often taught to
children in elementary schools). Rather than a reed it uses a whistler mouth piece, which
is a beak shaped mouth piece, as its main source of sound production. It is usually made
with seven finger holes and a thumb hole.
Baroque music
Contents Periods of European art music
• 1 History of the name Medieval (500 – 1400)
• 2 Styles and forms Renaissance (1400 – 1600)
o 2.1 The Baroque suite Common practice
 2.1.1 Overtura Baroque (1600 – 1760)
 2.1.2 Allemande Classical (1730 – 1820)
 2.1.3 Courante Romantic (1815 – 1910)
 2.1.4 Sarabande Modern and contemporary
 2.1.5 Gigue
20th century (1900 – 2000)
 2.1.6 Gavotte
Contemporary (1975 – present)
 2.1.7 Bourrée
 2.1.8 Minuet Baroque music describes an era
 2.1.9 Passepied and a set of styles of European
 2.1.10 Rigaudon classical music which were in
o 2.2 Baroque versus Renaissance style widespread use between
o 2.3 Baroque versus Classical style approximately 1600 and 1750.[1]
o 2.4 Other features This era is said to begin in music
• 3 Genres after the Renaissance and was
o 3.1 Vocal followed by the Classical music
o 3.2 Instrumental era. The original meaning of
• 4 History "baroque" is "misshapen pearl",
o 4.1 Early baroque music (1600–1654) a strikingly fitting
o 4.2 Middle baroque music (1654–1707) characterization of the
o 4.3 Late baroque music (1680–1750) architecture of this period; later,
• 5 Influence on later music the name came to be applied
o 5.1 Transition to the Classical era (1740–1780) also to its music. Baroque music
o 5.2 After 1760 forms a major portion of the
• 6 See also classical music canon, being
• 7 Notes widely studied, performed, and
• 8 References listened to. It is associated with
• 9 Further reading composers such as Claudio
Monteverdi, Antonio Vivaldi,
• 10 External links George Frideric Handel, and
Johann Sebastian Bach. The
baroque period saw the development of functional tonality. During the period composers and
performers used more elaborate musical ornamentation; made changes in musical notation, and
developed new instrumental playing techniques. Baroque music expanded the size, range and
complexity of instrumental performance, and also established opera as a musical genre. Many
musical terms and concepts from this era are still in use today.
History of the name
Music conventionally described as Baroque encompasses a broad range of styles from a wide
geographic region, mostly in Europe, composed during a period of approximately 160 years. The
systematic application of the term "baroque", which literally means "irregularly shaped pearl", to
music of this period is a relatively recent development. It was in 1919 that Curt Sachs was the
first to attempt to apply the five characteristics of Heinrich Wölfflin’s theory of the Baroque
systematically to music.[2] In English the term only acquired currency in the 1940s, in the
writings of Lang and Bukofzer.[3] Indeed, as late as 1960 there was still considerable dispute in
academic circles[weasel words] whether it was meaningful to lump together music as diverse as that of
Jacopo Peri, Domenico Scarlatti and J.S. Bach with a single term; yet the term has become
widely used and accepted for this broad range of music. It may be helpful to distinguish it from
both the preceding (Renaissance) and following (Classical) periods of musical history. A small
number of musicologists argue[weasel words] that it should be split into Baroque and Mannerist
periods to conform to the divisions that are sometimes applied[weasel words] in the visual arts.

Styles and forms

The Baroque suite

The Baroque suite was often simply called an overture.[citation needed] The form is especially
associated with Telemann,[citation needed] who wrote several hundred in diverse instrumentation. They
were scored with or without soloists[citation needed]; in Germany suites for two oboes and bassoon,
such as the Darmstadt Overtures, were especially popular.[citation needed]


The Baroque suite was generally begun with a French overture ("Ouverture" in French) played
da capo (ABA form) or extended as ABABA, where A is a slow section with dotted rhythms and
B is a fast, often fugal section.[citation needed] When the suite is scored with soloists, the fast section is
generally in ritornello form.[citation needed]


Often the first dance of an instrumental suite, the allemande was a very popular dance that had its
origins in the Renaissance era, when it was more often called the almain. The allemande was
played at a moderate tempo and could start on any beat of the bar.


The courante is a lively, French dance in triple meter. The Italian version is called the corrente.

The sarabande is one of the slowest of the baroque dances with a speed of about 40 to 66 beats
per minute.[citation needed] It is also in triple meter and can start on any beat of the bar, although there
is an emphasis on the second beat, creating the characteristic 'halting', or iambic rhythm of the


The gigue is an upbeat and lively baroque dance in compound meter, typically the concluding
movement of an instrumental suite. The gigue can start on any beat of the bar and is easily
recognized by its rhythmic feel. The gigue originated in the British Isles, its counterpart in folk
music being the jig.

These four dance types make up the majority of 17th century suites; later suites interpolate
additional movements, sometimes termed intermezzi or gallanteries[citation needed], between the
sarabande and gigue:


The gavotte can be identified by a variety of features; it is in 4/4 time and always starts on the
third beat of the bar, although this may sound like the first beat in some cases, as the first and
third beats are the strong beats in duple time. The gavotte is played at a moderate tempo,
although in some cases it may be played faster.[citation needed]


The bourrée is similar to the gavotte as it is in 2/2 time although it starts on the second half of the
last beat of the bar, creating a different feel to the dance. The bourrée is commonly played at a
moderate tempo, although for some composers, such as Handel, it can be taken at a much faster


The minuet is perhaps the best-known of the baroque dances in triple meter. It can start on any
beat of the bar. The speed of the minuet is normally moderate, although this may vary.[citation needed]
In some suites there may be a Minuet I and II, played in succession, with the Minuet I repeated.


The passepied is a fast dance in binary form and triple meter that originated in Brittany.
Examples can be found in later suites such as those of Bach and Handel.

The rigaudon is a lively French dance in duple meter, similar to the bourrée, but rhythmically
simpler. It may have originated in Provence.[citation needed]

Baroque versus Renaissance style

Baroque instruments including hurdy gurdy,

harpsichord, bass viol, lute, violin, and baroque guitar.

Baroque music shares with Renaissance music a heavy

use of polyphony and counterpoint. However, its use
of these techniques differs from Renaissance music. In
the Renaissance, harmony is more the result of
consonances incidental to the smooth flow of
polyphony, while in the early Baroque era the order of
these consonances becomes important, for they begin to be felt as chords in a hierarchical,
functional tonal scheme.[citation needed] Around 1600 there is considerable blurring of this definition:
for example essentially tonal progressions around cadential points in madrigals are noted, while
in early monody the feeling of tonality is still rather tenuous.[citation needed] Another distinction
between Renaissance and Baroque practice in harmony is the frequency of chord root motion by
third in the earlier period, while motion of fourths or fifths predominates later[citation needed] (which
partially defines functional tonality). In addition, baroque music uses longer lines and stronger
rhythms: the initial line is extended, either alone or accompanied only by the basso continuo,
until the theme reappears in another voice. In this later approach to counterpoint, the harmony
was more often defined either by the basso continuo, or tacitly by the notes of the theme itself.
[citation needed]

These stylistic differences mark the transition from the ricercars, fantasias, and canzonas of the
Renaissance to the fugue, a defining baroque form. Claudio Monteverdi called this newer, looser
style the seconda pratica, contrasting it with the prima pratica that characterized the motets and
other sacred choral pieces of high Renaissance masters like Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
Monteverdi used both styles; he wrote his Mass In illo tempore in the older, Palestrinan style,
and his 1610 Vespers in the new style.[citation needed]

There are other, more general differences between baroque and Renaissance style. Baroque
music often strives for a greater level of emotional intensity than Renaissance music, and a
Baroque piece often uniformly depicts a single particular emotion (exultation, grief, piety, and so
forth).[citation needed] Baroque music was more often written for virtuoso singers and instrumentalists
and is music,[citation needed] although idiomatic instrumental writing was one of the most important
innovations of the period. Baroque music employs a great deal of ornamentation, which was
often improvised by the performer. Expressive performance methods such as notes inégales were
common and were expected to be applied by performers, often with considerable latitude.[citation
Instruments came to play a greater part in baroque music, and a cappella vocal music
receded in importance.

Baroque versus Classical style

In the Classical era, which followed the Baroque, the role of counterpoint was diminished (albeit
repeatedly rediscovered and reintroduced), and replaced by a homophonic texture. The role of
ornamentation lessened. Works tended towards a more articulated internal structure, especially
those written in sonata form. Modulation (changing of keys) became a structural and dramatic
element, so that a work could be heard as a kind of dramatic journey through a sequence of
musical keys, outward and back from the tonic. Baroque music also modulates frequently, but
the modulation has less structural importance.[citation needed] Works in the classical style often depict
widely varying emotions within a single movement, whereas baroque works tend toward a
single, vividly portrayed feeling.[citation needed] Classical works usually reach a kind of dramatic
climax and then resolve it; baroque works retain a fairly constant level of dramatic energy to the
very last note.[citation needed] Many forms of the Baroque served as the point of departure for the
creation of the sonata form, by creating a "floor plan" for the placement of important cadences.
[citation needed]
In Baroque music, articulation was emphasized more than dynamics.[citation needed]
Dynamics were still important, but baroque-era keyboards (harpsichords and organs) were
incapable of producing the full range of dynamics possible in later eras.[original research?]

Other features

• Basso continuo - a kind of continuous accompaniment notated with a new music notation
system, figured bass, usually for a sustaining bass instrument and a keyboard instrument
• Monody - music for one melodic voice with accompaniment, characteristic of the early
17th century, especially in Italy
• Homophony - music with one melodic voice and rhythmically similar accompaniment
(this and monody are contrasted with the typical Renaissance texture, polyphony)
• Text over music - intelligible text with instrumental accompaniment not overpowering
the voice
• Vocal soloists
• Dramatic musical expression
• Dramatic musical forms like opera, dramma per musica
• Combined instrumental-vocal forms, such as the oratorio and cantata
• New instrumental techniques, like tremolo and pizzicato
• Clear and linear melody
• Notes inégales, a technique of applying dotted rhythms to evenly written notes.
• The aria
• The ritornello aria (repeated short instrumental interruptions of vocal passages)
• The concertato style (contrast in sound between orchestra and solo-instruments or small
groups of instruments)
• Precise instrumental scoring (in the Renaissance, exact instrumentation for ensemble
playing was rarely indicated)
• Idiomatic instrumental writing: better use of the unique properties of each type of musical
• Virtuosic instrumental and vocal writing, with appreciation for virtuosity as such
• ornamentation
• Development to modern Western tonality (major and minor scales)
• Cadenza- an extended virtuosic section for the soloist usually near the end of a movement
of a concerto.
Baroque composers wrote in many different musical genres. Opera, invented in the late
Renaissance, became an important musical form during the Baroque, with the operas of
Alessandro Scarlatti, Handel, and others. The oratorio achieved its peak in the work of Bach and
Handel; opera and oratorio often used very similar music forms, such as a widespread use of the
da capo aria.

In other religious music, the Mass and motet receded slightly in importance, but the cantata
flourished in the work of Bach and other Protestant composers. Virtuoso organ music also
flourished, with toccatas, fugues, and other works.

Instrumental sonatas and dance suites were written for individual instruments, for chamber
groups, and for (small) orchestra. The concerto emerged, both in its form for a single soloist plus
orchestra and as the concerto grosso, in which a small group of soloists is contrasted with the full
ensemble. The French overture, with its contrasting slow and fast sections, added grandeur to the
many courts at which it was performed.

Keyboard works were sometimes written largely for the pleasure and instruction of the
performer. These included a series of works by the mature Bach that are widely considered to be
the intellectual culmination of the Baroque era: the Well-Tempered Clavier, the Goldberg
Variations, and The Art of Fugue.


• Opera
o Zarzuela
o Opera seria
o Opera comique
o Opera-ballet
• Masque
• Oratorio
• Passion (music)
• Cantata
• Mass (music)
• Anthem
• Monody
• Chorale


• Concerto grosso
• Fugue
• Suite
o Allemande
o Courante
o Sarabande
o Gigue
o Gavotte
o Minuet
• Sonata
o Sonata da camera
o Sonata da chiesa
o Trio sonata
• Partita
• Canzona
• Sinfonia
• Fantasia
• Ricercar
• Toccata
• Prelude
• Chaconne
• Passacaglia
• Chorale prelude
• Stylus fantasticus
Composers of the Baroque
Early baroque music (1600–1654)

The conventional dividing line for the Baroque from the Renaissance begins in Italy, with the
Florentine Camerata, a group of academics who met informally in Florence in the palace of
Count Giovanni de' Bardi to discuss arts, as well as the sciences. Concerning music, their ideals
were based on their perception of ancient Greek musical drama, in which the declamation of the
text was of utmost importance. As such, they rejected the complex polyphony of the late
renaissance and desired a form of musical drama which consisted primarily of a simple solo
melody, with a basic accompaniment. The early realizations of these ideas, including Jacopo
Peri's Dafne and L'Euridice, marked the beginning of opera.

Musically, the adoption of the figured bass represents a larger change in musical thinking—
namely that harmony, that is "taking all of the parts together" was as important as the linear part
of polyphony. Increasingly, polyphony and harmony were seen as two sides of the same idea,
with harmonic progressions entering the notion of composing, as well as the use of the tritone as
a dissonance. Harmonic thinking had existed among particular composers in the previous era,
notably Carlo Gesualdo; however the Renaissance is felt to give way to the Baroque at the point
where it becomes the common vocabulary. Some historians of music point to the introduction of
the seventh chord without preparation as being the key break with the past. This created the idea
that chords, rather than notes, created the sense of closure, which is one of the fundamental ideas
of what came to be known as tonality.

Italy formed one of the cornerstones of the new style, as the papacy—besieged by Reformation
but with coffers fattened by the immense revenues flowing in from Habsburg conquest—
searched for artistic means to promote faith in the Roman Catholic Church. One of the most
important musical centers was Venice, which had both secular and sacred patronage available.

Giovanni Gabrieli became one of the important transitional figures in the emergence of the new
style, although his work is largely considered to be in the "High Renaissance" manner. However,
his innovations were foundational to the new style. Among these are instrumentation (labeling
instruments specifically for specific tasks) and the use of dynamics.

The demands of religion were also to make the text of sacred works clearer, and hence there was
pressure to move away from the densely layered polyphony of the Renaissance, to lines which
put the words front and center, or had a more limited range of imitation. This created the demand
for a more intricate weaving of the vocal line against backdrop, or homophony.

Claudio Monteverdi became the most visible of a generation of composers who felt that there
was a secular means to this "modern" approach to harmony and text, and in 1607 his opera
L'Orfeo became the landmark which demonstrated the array of effects and techniques that were
associated with this new school, called seconda pratica, to distinguish it from the older style or
prima pratica. Monteverdi was a master of both, producing precisely styled madrigals that
extended the forms of Luca Marenzio and Giaches de Wert. But it is his pieces in the new style
which became the most influential. These included features which are recognizable even to the
end of the baroque period, including use of idiomatic writing, virtuoso flourishes, and the use of
new techniques.

This musical language proved to be international, as Heinrich Schütz, a German composer who
studied in Venice under both Gabrieli and later Monteverdi, used it to the liturgical needs of the
Elector of Saxony and served as the choir master in Dresden.

Middle baroque music (1654–1707)

The rise of the centralized court is one of the economic and political features of what is often
labelled the Age of Absolutism, personified by Louis XIV of France. The style of palace, and the
court system of manners and arts which he fostered, became the model for the rest of Europe.
The realities of rising church and state patronage created the demand for organized public music,
as the increasing availability of instruments created the demand for chamber music. This
included the availability of keyboard instruments.

The middle Baroque is separated from the early Baroque by the coming of systematic thinking to
the new style and a gradual institutionalization of the forms and norms, particularly in opera. As
with literature, the printing press and trade created an expanded international audience for works
and greater cross-pollination between national centres of musical activity.

The middle Baroque, in music theory, is identified by the increasingly harmonic focus of musical
practice and the creation of formal systems of teaching. Music was an art, and it came to be seen
as one that should be taught in an orderly manner. This culminated in the later work of Johann
Fux in systematizing counterpoint.

One pre-eminent example of a court style composer is Jean-Baptiste Lully. His career rose
dramatically when he collaborated with Molière on a series of comédie-ballets, that is, plays with
dancing. He used this success to become the sole composer of operas for the king, using not just
innovative musical ideas such as the tragédie lyrique, but patents from the king which prevented
others from having operas staged. Lully's instinct for providing the material that his monarch
desired has been pointed out by almost every biographer, including his rapid shift to church
music when the mood at court became more devout. His 13 completed lyric tragedies are based
on libretti that focus on the conflicts between the public and private life of the monarch.

Musically, he explored contrast between stately and fully orchestrated sections, and simple
recitatives and airs. In no small part, it was his skill in assembling and practicing musicians into
an orchestra which was essential to his success and influence. Observers noted the precision and
intonation, this in an age where there was no standard for tuning instruments. One essential
element was the increased focus on the inner voices of the harmony and the relationship to the
soloist. He also established the string-dominated norm for orchestras.

Arcangelo Corelli is remembered as influential for his achievements on the other side of musical
technique— as a violinist who organized violin technique and pedagogy— and in purely
instrumental music, particularly his advocacy and development of the concerto grosso. Whereas
Lully was ensconced at court, Corelli was one of the first composers to publish widely and have
his music performed all over Europe. As with Lully's stylization and organization of the opera,
the concerto grosso is built on strong contrasts— sections alternate between those played by the
full orchestra, and those played by a smaller group. Dynamics were "terraced", that is with a
sharp transition from loud to soft and back again. Fast sections and slow sections were
juxtaposed against each other. Numbered among his students is Antonio Vivaldi, who later
composed hundreds of works based on the principles in Corelli's trio sonatas and concerti.

In England the middle Baroque produced a cometary genius in Henry Purcell, who, despite dying
at age 36, produced a profusion of music and was widely recognized in his lifetime. He was
familiar with the innovations of Corelli and other Italian style composers; however, his patrons
were different, and his musical output was prodigious. Rather than being a painstaking
craftsman, Purcell was a fluid composer who was able to shift from simple anthems and useful
music such as marches, to grandly scored vocal music and music for the stage. His catalogue
runs to over 800 works. He was also one of the first great keyboard composers, whose work still
has influence and presence.

In contrast to these composers, Dieterich Buxtehude was not a creature of court but instead was
an organist and entrepreneurial presenter of music. Rather than publishing, he relied on
performance for his income, and rather than royal patronage, he shuttled between vocal settings
for sacred music, and organ music that he performed. His output is not as fabulous or diverse,
because he was not constantly being called upon for music to meet an occasion. Buxtehude's
employment of contrast was between the free, often improvisatory sections, and more strict
sections worked out contrapuntally. This procedure would be highly influential on later
composers such as Bach, who took the contrast between free and strict to greater limits.

Late baroque music (1680–1750)

The dividing line between middle and late Baroque is a matter of some debate. Dates for the
beginning of "late" baroque style range from 1680 to 1720. In no small part this is because there
was not one synchronized transition; different national styles experienced changes at different
rates and at different times. Italy is generally regarded as the first country to move to the late
baroque style. The important dividing line in most histories of baroque music is the full
absorption of tonality as a structuring principle of music. This was particularly evident in the
wake of theoretical work by Jean-Philippe Rameau, who replaced Lully as the important French
opera composer. At the same time, through the work of Johann Fux, the Renaissance style of
polyphony was made the basis for the study of counterpoint. The combination of modal
counterpoint with tonal logic of cadences created the sense that there were two styles of
composition— the homophonic dominated by vertical considerations and the polyphonic
dominated by imitation and contrapuntal considerations.

The forms which had begun to be established in the previous era flourished and were given wider
range of diversity; concerto, suite, sonata, concerto grosso, oratorio, opera and ballet all saw a
proliferation of national styles and structures. The overall form of pieces was generally simple,
with repeated binary forms (AABB), simple three part forms (ABC), and rondeau forms being
common. These schematics in turn influenced later composers.
Antonio Vivaldi is a figure who was forgotten in concert music making for much of the 19th
century, only to be revived in the 20th century. Born in Venice in 1678, he began as an ordained
priest of the Catholic church but ceased to say Mass by 1703. Around the same time he was
appointed maestro di violino at a Venetian girls' orphanage with which he had a professional
relationship until nearly the end of his life. Vivaldi's reputation came not from having an
orchestra or court appointment, but from his published works, including trio sonatas, violin
sonatas and concerti. They were published in Amsterdam and circulated widely through Europe.
It is in these instrumental genres of baroque sonata and baroque concerto, which were still
evolving, that Vivaldi's most important contributions were made. He settled on certain patterns,
such as a fast-slow-fast three-movement plan for works, and the use of ritornello in the fast
movements, and explored the possibilities in hundreds of works— 550 concerti alone. He also
used programmatic titles for works, such as his famous "The Four Seasons" violin concerti.
Vivaldi's career reflects a growing possibility for a composer to be able to support himself by his
publications, tour to promote his own works, and have an independent existence.

Domenico Scarlatti was one of the leading keyboard virtuosi of his day, who took the road of
being a royal court musician, first in Portugal and then, starting in 1733, in Madrid, Spain, where
he spent the rest of his life. His father, Alessandro Scarlatti, was a member of the Neapolitan
School of opera and has been credited with being among its most skilled members. Domenico
also wrote operas and church music, but it is the publication of his keyboard works, which spread
more widely after his death, which have secured him a lasting place of reputation. Many of these
works were written for his own playing but others for his royal patrons. As with his father, his
fortunes were closely tied to his ability to secure, and keep, royal favour.

But perhaps the most famous composer to be associated with royal patronage was George
Frideric Handel, who was born in Germany, studied for three years in Italy, and went to London
in 1711, which was his base of operations for a long and profitable career that included
independently produced operas and commissions for nobility. He was constantly searching for
successful commercial formulas, in opera, and then in oratorios in English. A continuous worker,
Handel borrowed from others and often recycled his own material. He was also known for
reworking pieces such as the famous Messiah, which premiered in 1741, for available singers
and musicians. Even as his economic circumstances rose and fell with his productions, his
reputation, based on published keyboard works, ceremonial music, constant stagings of operas
and oratorios and concerti grossi, grew exponentially. By the time of his death, he was regarded
as the leading composer in Europe and was studied by later classical-era musicians. Handel,
because of his very public ambitions, rested a great deal of his output on melodic resource
combined with a rich performance tradition of improvisation and counterpoint. The practice of
ornamentation in the Baroque style was at a very high level of development under his direction.
He travelled all over Europe to engage singers and learn the music of other composers, and thus
he had among the widest acquaintance of other styles of any composer.

Johann Sebastian Bach has, over time, come to be seen as the towering figure of Baroque music,
with what Béla Bartók described as "a religion" surrounding him. During the baroque period, he
was better known as a teacher, administrator and performer than composer, being less famous
than either Handel or Georg Philipp Telemann. Born in Eisenach in 1685 to a musical family, he
received an extensive early education and was considered to have an excellent boy soprano
voice. He held a variety of posts as an organist, rapidly gaining in fame for his virtuosity and
ability. In 1723 he settled at the post which he was associated with for virtually the rest of his
life: cantor and director of music for Leipzig. His varied experience allowed him to become the
town's leader of music both secular and sacred, teacher of its musicians, and leading musical
figure. Bach's musical innovations plumbed the depths and the outer limits of the Baroque
homophonic and polyphonic forms. He was a virtual catalogue of every contrapuntal device
possible and every acceptable means of creating webs of harmony with the chorale. As a result,
his works in the form of the fugue coupled with preludes and toccatas for organ, and the baroque
concerto forms, have become fundamental in both performance and theoretical technique.
Virtually every instrument and ensemble of the age— except for the theatre genres— is
represented copiously in his output. Bach's teachings became prominent in the classical and
romantic eras as composers rediscovered the harmonic and melodic subtleties of his works.

Georg Philipp Telemann was the most famous instrumental composer of his time, and massively
prolific— even by the standards of an age where composers had to produce large volumes of
music. His two most important positions — director of music in Frankfurt in 1712 and in 1721
director of music of the Johanneum in Hamburg — required him to compose vocal and
instrumental music for secular and sacred contexts. He composed two complete cantata cycles
for Sunday services, as well as sacred oratorios. Telemann also founded a periodical that
published new music, much of it by Telemann. This dissemination of music made him a
composer with an international audience, as evidenced by his successful trip to Paris in 1731.
Some of his finest works were in the 1750s and 1760s, when the Baroque style was being
replaced by simpler styles but were popular at the time and afterwards. Among these late works
are "Der Tod Jesu" ("The death of Jesus") 1755, "Die Donner-Ode" ("The Ode of Thunder")
1756, "Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu" ("The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus")
1760 and "Der Tag des Gerichts" ("The Day of Judgement") 1762.

Influence on later music

Transition to the Classical era (1740–1780)

The phase between the late Baroque and the early Classical era, with its broad mixture of
competing ideas and attempts to unify the different demands of taste, economics and
"worldview", goes by many names. It is sometimes called "Galant", "Rococo", or "pre-
Classical", or at other times, "early Classical". It is a period where composers still working in the
Baroque style were still successful, if sometimes thought of as being more of the past than the
present— Bach, Handel and Telemann all composed well beyond the point at which the
homophonic style is clearly in the ascendant. Musical culture was caught at a crossroads: the
masters of the older style had the technique, but the public hungered for the new. This is one of
the reasons Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was held in such high regard: he understood the older
forms quite well and knew how to present them in new garb, with an enhanced variety of form;
he went far in overhauling the older forms from the Baroque.

The practice of the baroque era was the standard against which new composition was measured,
and there came to be a division between sacred works, which held more closely to the Baroque
style from secular or "profane" works, which were in the new style.
Especially in the Catholic countries of central Europe, the baroque style continued to be
represented in sacred music through the end of the eighteenth century, in much the way that the
stile antico of the Renaissance continued to live in the sacred music of the early 17th century.
The masses and oratorios of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, while Classical in
their orchestration and ornamentation, have many Baroque features in their underlying
contrapuntal and harmonic structure. The decline of the baroque saw various attempts to mix old
and new techniques, and many composers who continued to hew to the older forms well into the
1780s. Many cities in Germany continued to maintain performance practices from the Baroque
into the 1790s, including Leipzig, where J.S. Bach worked to the end of his life.

In England, the enduring popularity of Handel ensured the success of Charles Avison, William
Boyce, and Thomas Arne — among other accomplished imitators — well into the 1780s, who
competed alongside Mozart and Bach. In Continental Europe, however, it was considered an old-
fashioned way of writing and was a requisite for graduation from the burgeoning number of
conservatories of music, and otherwise reserved only for use in sacred works.

After 1760

Because baroque music was the basis for pedagogy, it retained a stylistic influence even after it
had ceased to be the dominant style of composing or of music making. Even as Baroque practice
fell out of use, it continued to be part of musical notation. In the early 19th century, scores by
baroque masters were printed in complete edition, and this led to a renewed interest in the "strict
style" of counterpoint, as it was then called. With Felix Mendelssohn's revival of Bach's choral
music, the baroque style became an influence through the 19th century as a paragon of academic
and formal purity. Throughout the 19th century, the fugue in the style of Bach held enormous
influence for composers as a standard to aspire to and a form to include in serious instrumental

In the 20th century, Baroque was named as a period, and its music began to be studied. Baroque
form and practice influenced composers as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg, Max Reger, Igor
Stravinsky and Béla Bartók. There was also a revival of the middle baroque composers such as
Purcell and Corelli.

There are several instances of contemporary pieces being published as "rediscovered" Baroque
masterworks. Some examples of this include a viola concerto written by Henri Casadesus but
attributed to Johann Christian Bach, as well as several pieces attributed by Fritz Kreisler to
lesser-known figures of the Baroque such as Gaetano Pugnani and Padre Martini. Alessandro
Parisotti attributed his aria for voice and piano, "Se tu m'ami", to Pergolesi. Today, there is a
very active core of composers writing works exclusively in the Baroque style, an example being
Giorgio Pacchioni.

Various works have been labelled "neo-baroque" for a focus on imitative polyphony, including
the works of Giacinto Scelsi, Paul Hindemith, Paul Creston and Bohuslav Martinů, even though
they are not in the baroque style proper. Musicologists attempted to complete various works
from the Baroque, most notably Bach's ‘’The Art of Fugue’’. Because the baroque style is a
recognized point of reference, implying not only music, but a particular period and social
manner, Baroque styled pieces are sometimes created for media, such as film and television.
Composer Peter Schickele parodies classical and baroque styles under the pen name PDQ Bach.

Baroque performance practice had a renewed influence with the rise of "Authentic" or
Historically informed performance in the late 20th century. Texts by Johann Joachim Quantz and
Leopold Mozart among others, formed the basis for performances which attempted to recover
some of the aspects of baroque sound world, including one on a part performance of works by
Bach, use of gut strings rather than metal, reconstructed harpsichords, use of older playing
techniques and styles. Several popular ensembles adopted some or all of these techniques,
including the Anonymous 4, the Academy of Ancient Music, Boston's Handel and Haydn
Society, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, William Christie's Les Arts Florissants and
others. This movement then attempted to apply some of the same methods to classical and even
early romantic era performance.
Classical period (music)
Periods of European art music
Medieval (500 – 1400)
Renaissance (1400 – 1600) The dates of the Classical period in Western music are
generally accepted as 1750 to 1820. The term classical
Common practice
music is also used colloquially to designate a variety of
Baroque (1600 – 1760) styles rooted in the European liturgical and secular musical
Classical (1730 – 1820) tradition dating back to the 9th century.
Romantic (1815 – 1910)
Modern and contemporary The Classical period falls between the Baroque and the
20th century (1900 – 2000) Romantic periods. The best known composers from this
Contemporary (1975 – present) period are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and
Ludwig van Beethoven; other notable names include Luigi
Boccherini, Muzio Clementi, Johann Ladislaus Dussek, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and
Christoph Willibald Gluck. Beethoven is also sometimes regarded either as a Romantic
composer or a composer who was part of the transition to the Romantic; Franz Schubert is also
something of a transitional figure, as are Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Luigi Cherubini and Carl
Maria von Weber. The period is sometimes referred to as the era of Viennese Classic or
Classicism (German: Wiener Klassik), since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig
van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert all worked at some time in Vienna, comprising the First
Viennese School.


• 1 Classicism
• 2 Main characteristics
• 3 History
o 3.1 1730-1760
o 3.2 1760-1775
o 3.3 1775-1790
o 3.4 1790-1820
• 4 Classical influence on later composers
• 5 See also
• 6 Further reading

• 7 External links
In the middle of the 18th century, Europe began to move to a new style in architecture, literature,
and the arts, generally known as Classicism. While still tightly linked to the court culture and
absolutism, with its formality and emphasis on order and hierarchy, the new style was also a
cleaner style--one that favored clearer divisions between parts, brighter contrasts and colors, and
simplicity rather than complexity. The remarkable development of ideas in "natural philosophy"
had established itself in the public consciousness with Newton's physics taken as a paradigm:
structures should be well-founded in axioms and be both well-articulated and orderly. This taste
for structural clarity worked its way into the world of music, moving away from the layered
polyphony of the Baroque period, towards a style where a melody over a subordinate harmony
— a combination called homophony — was preferred. This meant that the playing of chords,
even if they interrupted the melodic smoothness of a single part, became a much more prevalent
feature of music. This, in turn, made the tonal structure of works more audible.
The new style was also pushed forward by changes in the
economic order and in social structure. As the 18th century
Classical antiquity
progressed, the nobility became the primary patrons of Renaissance Classicism
instrumental music, and there was a rise in the public taste Age of Enlightenment Classicism
for comic opera. This led to changes in the way music was
performed, the most crucial of which was the move to • Visual arts, Architecture, and
standard instrumental groups and the reduction in the Literary Neoclassicism
importance of the continuo – the harmonic fill beneath the • Classical music era
music, often played by several instruments. One way to • Classical economics
trace this decline of the continuo and its figured chords is to
examine the decline of the term obbligato, meaning a • Classical physics
mandatory instrumental part in a work of chamber music. In Classicism between the Wars
the Baroque world, additional instruments could be
optionally added to the continuo; in the Classical world, all • 20th Century neoclassicism
parts were noted specifically, though not always notated, as • Neoclassicism (music)
a matter of course, so the word "obbligato" became • Neoclassical Philosophy
• Neoclassical ballet
redundant. By 1800, the term was virtually extinct.
• Neoclassical Economics
The changes in economic situation also had the effect of
altering the balance of availability and quality of musicians.
While in the late Baroque a major composer would have the entire musical resources of a town
to draw on, the forces available at a hunting lodge were smaller and more fixed in their level of
ability. This was a spur to having primarily simple parts to play, and in the case of a resident
virtuoso group, a spur to writing spectacular, idiomatic parts for certain instruments, as in the
case of the Mannheim orchestra. In addition, the appetite for a continual supply of new music,
carried over from the Baroque, meant that works had to be performable with, at best, one
rehearsal. Indeed, even after 1790 Mozart writes about "the rehearsal", with the implication that
his concerts would have only one.
Since polyphonic texture was no longer the main focus of music (excluding the development
section) but rather a single melodic line with accompaniment, there was greater emphasis on
notating that line for dynamics and phrasing. The simplification of texture made such
instrumental detail more important, and also made the use of characteristic rhythms, such as
attention-getting opening fanfares, the funeral march rhythm, or the minuet genre, more
important in establishing and unifying the tone of a single movement.

Forms such as the concerto and sonata were more heavily defined and given more specific rules,
whereas the symphony was created in this period (this is popularly attributed to Joseph Haydn).
The concerto grosso (a concerto for more than one musician) began to be replaced by the solo
concerto (a concerto featuring only one soloist), and therefore began to place more importance
on the particular soloist's ability to show off. There were, of course, some concerto grossos that
remained, the most famous of which being Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola in
E flat Major.

Main characteristics
Classical music has a lighter, clearer texture than Baroque music and is less complicated. It is
mainly homophonic – melody above chordal accompaniment (but counterpoint is by no means
forgotten, especially later in the period). There is an emphasis on grace and beauty of melody
and form, proportion and balance, moderation and control; it is polished and elegant in character,
with expressiveness and formal structure held in perfect balance.

Variety and contrast within a piece became more pronounced than before. Variety of keys,
melodies, rhythms and dynamics (using crescendo, diminuendo and sforzando), along with
frequent changes of mood and timbre were more commonplace in the Classical period than they
had been in the Baroque. Melodies tended to be shorter than those of Baroque music, with clear-
cut phrases and clearly marked cadences. The Orchestra increased in size and range; the
harpsichord continuo fell out of use, and the woodwind became a self-contained section. As a
solo instrument, the harpsichord was replaced by the piano (or fortepiano). Early piano music
was light in texture, often with Alberti bass accompaniment, but it later became richer, more
sonorous and more powerful.

Importance was given to instrumental music – the main kinds were sonata, trio, string quartet,
symphony, concerto, serenade and divertimento. Sonata form developed and became the most
important design. It was used to build up the first movement of most large-scale works, but also
other movements and single pieces (such as overtures).


At first the new style took over Baroque forms — the ternary da capo aria and the sinfonia and
concerto — but composed with simpler parts, more notated ornamentation and more emphatic
division into sections. However, over time, the new aesthetic caused radical changes in how
pieces were put together, and the basic layouts changed. Composers from this period sought
dramatic effects, striking melodies, and clearer textures. The Italian composer Domenico
Scarlatti was an important figure in the transition from Baroque to Classical. His unique
compositional style is strongly related to that of the early Classical period. He is best known for
composing more than five hundred one-movement keyboard sonatas. Another important break
with the past was the radical overhaul of opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck, who cut away a
great deal of the layering and improvisational ornament and focused on the points of modulation
and transition. By making these moments where the harmony changes more focal, he enabled
powerful dramatic shifts in the emotional color of the music. To highlight these episodes he used
changes in instrumentation, melody, and mode. Among the most successful composers of his
time, Gluck spawned many emulators, one of whom was Antonio Salieri. Their emphasis on
accessibility brought huge successes in opera, and in vocal music more widely: songs, oratorios,
and choruses. These were considered the most important kinds of music for performance and
hence enjoyed greatest success in the public estimation.

The phase between the Baroque and the rise of the Classical, with its broad mixture of competing
ideas and attempts to unify the different demands of taste, economics and "worldview", goes by
many names. It is sometimes called Galant, Rococo, or pre-Classical, or at other times early
Classical. It is a period where some composers still working in the Baroque style flourish,
though sometimes thought of as being more of the past than the present — Bach, Handel, and
Telemann all composed well beyond the point at which the homophonic style is clearly in the
ascendant. Musical culture was caught at a crossroads: the masters of the older style had the
technique, but the public hungered for the new. This is one of the reasons C.P.E. Bach was held
in such high regard: he understood the older forms quite well and knew how to present them in
new garb, with an enhanced variety of form.


By the late 1750s there were flourishing centers of the new style in Italy, Vienna, Mannheim,
and Paris; dozens of symphonies were composed and there were "bands" of players associated
with theatres. Opera or other vocal music was the feature of most musical events, with concertos
and "symphonies" (arising from the overture) serving as instrumental interludes and
introductions for operas and church services. Over the course of the Classical period,
"symphonies" and concertos developed and were presented independently of vocal music. The
"normal" ensemble--a body of strings supplemented by winds--and movements of particular
rhythmic character were established by the late 1750s in Vienna. However, the length and weight
of pieces was still set with some Baroque characteristics: individual movements still focused on
one affect or had only one sharply contrasting middle section, and their length was not
significantly greater than Baroque movements. There was not yet a clearly enunciated theory of
how to compose in the new style. It was a moment ripe for a breakthrough.

Many consider this breakthrough to have been made by C.P.E. Bach, Gluck, and several others.
Indeed, C.P.E. Bach and Gluck are often considered to be founders of the Classical style.

The first great master of the style was the composer Joseph Haydn. In the late 1750s he began
composing symphonies, and by 1761 he had composed a triptych (Morning, Noon, and Evening)
solidly in the "contemporary" mode. As a vice-Kapellmeister and later Kapellmeister, his output
expanded: he composed over forty symphonies in the 1760s alone. And while his fame grew, as
his orchestra was expanded and his compositions were copied and disseminated, his voice was
only one among many.

While some suggest that he was overshadowed by Mozart and Beethoven, it would be difficult to
overstate Haydn's centrality to the new style, and therefore to the future of Western art[clarify]
music as a whole. At the time, before the pre-eminence of Mozart or Beethoven, and with Johann
Sebastian Bach known primarily to connoisseurs of keyboard music, Haydn reached a place in
music that set him above all other composers except perhaps George Friedrich Handel. He took
existing ideas, and radically altered how they functioned — earning him the titles "father of the
symphony," and "father of the string quartet."

One of the forces that worked as an impetus for his pressing forward was the first stirring of what
would later be called Romanticism — the Sturm und Drang, or "storm and stress" phase in the
arts, a short period where obvious emotionalism was a stylistic preference. Haydn accordingly
wanted more dramatic contrast and more emotionally appealing melodies, with sharpened
character and individuality. This period faded away in music and literature: however, it
influenced what came afterward and would eventually be a component of aesthetic taste in later

The "Farewell" Symphony, No. 45 in F# Minor, exemplifies Haydn's integration of the differing
demands of the new style, with surprising sharp turns and a long adagio to end the work. In
1772, Haydn completed his Opus 20 set of six string quartets, in which he deployed the
polyphonic techniques he had gathered from the previous era to provide structural coherence
capable of holding together his melodic ideas. For some this marks the beginning of the "mature"
Classical style, where the period of reaction against the complexity of the late Baroque began to
be replaced with a period of integration of elements of both Baroque and Classical styles.


Haydn, having worked for over a decade as the music director for a prince, had far more
resources and scope for composing than most and also the ability to shape the forces that would
play his music. This opportunity was not wasted, as Haydn, beginning quite early on his career,
sought to press forward the technique of building ideas in music. His next important
breakthrough was in the Opus 33 string quartets (1781), where the melodic and the harmonic
roles segue among the instruments: it is often momentarily unclear what is melody and what is
harmony. This changes the way the ensemble works its way between dramatic moments of
transition and climactic sections: the music flows smoothly and without obvious interruption. He
then took this integrated style and began applying it to orchestral and vocal music.

Haydn's gift to music was a way of composing, a way of structuring works, which was at the
same time in accord with the governing aesthetic of the new style. However, a younger
contemporary, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, brought his genius to Haydn's ideas and applied
them to two of the major genres of the day: opera, and the virtuoso concerto. Whereas Haydn
spent much of his working life as a court composer, Mozart wanted public success in the concert
life of cities. This meant opera, and it meant performing as a virtuoso. Haydn was not a virtuoso
at the international touring level; nor was he seeking to create operatic works that could play for
many nights in front of a large audience. Mozart wanted both. Moreover, Mozart also had a taste
for more chromatic chords (and greater contrasts in harmonic language generally), a greater love
for creating a welter of melodies in a single work, and a more Italianate sensibility in music as a
whole. He found, in Haydn's music and later in his study of the polyphony of Bach, the means to
discipline and enrich his gifts.

Mozart rapidly came to the attention of Haydn, who hailed the new composer, studied his works,
and considered the younger man his only true peer in music. In Mozart, Haydn found a greater
range of instrumentation, dramatic effect and melodic resource; the learning relationship moved
in two directions.

Mozart's arrival in Vienna in 1780 brought an acceleration in the development of the Classical
style. There Mozart absorbed the fusion of Italianate brilliance and Germanic cohesiveness
which had been brewing for the previous 20 years. His own taste for brilliances, rhythmically
complex melodies and figures, long cantilena melodies, and virtuoso flourishes was merged with
an appreciation for formal coherence and internal connectedness. It is at this point that war and
inflation halted a trend to larger orchestras and forced the disbanding or reduction of many
theatre orchestras. This pressed the Classical style inwards: towards seeking greater ensemble
and technical challenge — for example, scattering the melody across woodwinds, or using thirds
to highlight the melody taken by them. This process placed a premium on chamber music for
more public performance, giving a further boost to the string quartet and other small ensemble

It was during this decade that public taste began, increasingly, to recognize that Haydn and
Mozart had reached a higher standard of composition. By the time Mozart arrived at age 25, in
1781, the dominant styles of Vienna were recognizably connected to the emergence in the 1750s
of the early Classical style. By the end of the 1780s, changes in performance practice, the
relative standing of instrumental and vocal music, technical demands on musicians, and stylistic
unity had become established in the composers who imitated Mozart and Haydn. During this
decade Mozart composed his most famous operas, his six late symphonies which helped to
redefine the genre, and a string of piano concerti which still stand at the pinnacle of these forms.

One composer who was influential in spreading the more serious style that Mozart and Haydn
had formed is Muzio Clementi, a gifted virtuoso pianist who dueled[clarify] Mozart to a draw before
the emperor, when they exhibited their compositions in performance. Clementi's sonatas for the
piano circulated widely, and he became the most successful composer in London during the
1780s. Also in London at this time was Johann Ladislaus Dussek, who, like Clementi,
encouraged piano makers to extend the range and other features of their instruments, and then
fully exploited the newly opened possibilities. The importance of London in the Classical period
is often overlooked, but it served as the home to the Broadwood's factory for piano
manufacturing and as the base for composers who, while less notable than the "Vienna School",
had a decisive influence on what came later. They were composers of many fine works, notable
in their own right. London's taste for virtuosity may well have encouraged the complex passage
work and extended statements on tonic and dominant.

When Haydn and Mozart began composing, symphonies were played as single movements—
before, between, or as interludes within other works—and many of them lasted only ten or
twelve minutes; instrumental groups had varying standards of playing, and the continuo was a
central part of music-making. In the intervening years, the social world of music had seen
dramatic changes: international publication and touring had grown explosively, concert societies
were beginning to be formed, notation had been made more specific, more descriptive, and
schematics for works had been simplified (yet became more varied in their exact working out).
In 1790, just before Mozart's death, with his reputation spreading rapidly, Haydn was poised for
a series of successes, notably his late oratorios and "London" symphonies. Composers in Paris,
Rome, and all over Germany turned to Haydn and Mozart for their ideas on form.

The moment was again ripe for a dramatic shift. During the 1790s, there emerged of a new
generation of composers, born around 1770, who, while they had grown up with the earlier
styles, found in the recent works of Haydn and Mozart a vehicle for greater expression. In 1788
Luigi Cherubini settled in Paris and in 1791 composed Lodoiska, an opera that rose him to fame.
Its style is clearly reflective of the mature Haydn and Mozart, and its instrumentation gave it a
weight that had not yet been felt in the grand opera. His contemporary Étienne Méhul extended
instrumental effects with his 1790 opera Euphrosine et Coradin, from which followed a series of

The most fateful of the new generation was Ludwig van Beethoven, who launched his numbered
works in 1794 with a set of three piano trios, which remain in the repertoire. Somewhat younger
than the others, though equally accomplished because of his youthful study under Mozart and his
native virtuosity, was Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Hummel studied under Haydn as well; he was
a friend to Beethoven and Schubert and a teacher to Franz Liszt. He concentrated more on the
piano than any other instrument, and his time in London in 1791 and 1792 generated the
composition and publication in 1793 of three piano sonatas, opus 2, which idiomatically used
Mozart's techniques of avoiding the expected cadence, and Clementi's sometimes modally
uncertain virtuoso figuration. Taken together, these composers can be seen as the vanguard of a
broad change in style and the center of music. They studied one another's works, copied one
another's gestures in music, and on occasion behaved like quarrelsome rivals.

The crucial differences with the previous wave can be seen in the downward shift in melodies,
increasing durations of movements, the acceptance of Mozart and Haydn as paradigmatic, the
greater use of keyboard resources, the shift from "vocal" writing to "pianistic" writing, the
growing pull of the minor and of modal ambiguity, and the increasing importance of varying
accompanying figures to bring "texture" forward as an element in music. In short, the late
Classical was seeking a music that was internally more complex. The growth of concert societies
and amateur orchestras, marking the importance of music as part of middle-class life, contributed
to a booming market for pianos, piano music, and virtuosi to serve as examplars. Hummel,
Beethoven, and Clementi were all renowned for their improvising.
Direct influence of the Baroque continued to fade: the figured bass grew less prominent as a
means of holding performance together, the performance practices of the mid 18th century
continued to die out. However, at the same time, complete editions of Baroque masters began to
become available, and the influence of Baroque style continued to grow, particularly in the ever
more expansive use of brass. Another feature of the period is the growing number of
performances where the composer was not present. This led to increased detail and specificity in
notation; for example, there were fewer "optional" parts that stood separately from the main

The force of these shifts became apparent with Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, given the name
Eroica, which is Italian for "heroic", by the composer. As with Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, it
may not have been the first in all of its innovations, but its aggressive use of every part of the
Classical style set it apart from its contemporary works: in length, ambition, and harmonic

Classical influence on later composers

Musical eras seldom disappear at once; instead, features are replaced over time, until the old is
simply felt as "old-fashioned". The Classical style did not "die" so much as transform under the
weight of changes.

One crucial change was the shift towards harmonies centering around "flatward" keys: shifts in
the subdominant direction. In the Classical style, major key was far more common than minor,
chromaticism being moderated through the use of "sharpward" modulation, and sections in the
minor mode were often merely for contrast. Beginning with Mozart and Clementi, there began a
creeping colonization of the subdominant region. With Schubert, subdominant moves flourished
after being introduced in contexts in which earlier composers would have confined themselves to
dominant shifts. This introduced darker colors to music, strengthened the minor mode, and made
structure harder to maintain. Beethoven contributed to this by his increasing use of the fourth as
a consonance, and modal ambiguity — for example, the opening of the D Minor Symphony.

Franz Schubert, Carl Maria von Weber, and John Field are among the most prominent in this
generation of "Classical Romantics", along with the young Felix Mendelssohn. Their sense of
form was strongly influenced by the Classical style, and they were not yet "learned" (imitating
rules which were codified by others), but they directly responded to works by Beethoven,
Mozart, Clementi, and others, as they encountered them. The instrumental forces at their disposal
were also quite "Classical" in number and variety, permitting similarity with Classical works.

However, the forces destined to end the hold of the Classical style gathered strength in the works
of each of these composers. The most commonly cited one is harmonic innovation. However,
also important is the increasing focus on having a continuous and rhythmically uniform
accompanying figuration: Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata was the model for hundreds of later
pieces — where the shifting movement of a rhythmic figure provides much of the drama and
interest of the work, while a melody drifts above it. Greater knowledge of works, greater
instrumental expertise, increasing variety of instruments, the growth of concert societies, and the
unstoppable domination of the piano — which created a huge audience for sophisticated music
— all contributed to the shift to the "Romantic" style.

Drawing the line exactly is impossible: there are sections of Mozart's works which, taken alone,
are indistinguishable in harmony and orchestration from music written 80 years later, and
composers continue to write in normative Classical styles into the 20th century. Even before
Beethoven's death, composers such as Louis Spohr were self-described Romantics,
incorporating, for example, more extravagant chromaticism in their works. However, generally
the fall of Vienna as the most important musical center for orchestral composition is felt to be the
occasion of the Classical style's final eclipse, along with its continuous organic development of
one composer learning in close proximity to others. Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin visited
Vienna when young, but they then moved on to other vistas. Composers such as Carl Czerny,
while deeply influenced by Beethoven, also searched for new ideas and new forms to contain the
larger world of musical expression and performance in which they lived.

Renewed interest in the formal balance and restraint of 18th century classical music led in the
early 20th century to the development of so-called Neoclassical style, which numbered
Stravinsky and Prokofiev among its proponents.
Romantic music
Periods of European art music
Medieval (500 – 1400)
Renaissance (1400 – 1600)
Common practice
Baroque (1600 – 1760)
Classical (1730 – 1820)
Romantic (1815 – 1910)
Modern and contemporary
20th century (1900 – 2000) Romantic Music is a musicological term referring to a
Contemporary (1975 – present) particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon
in European music history, from about 1820 to 1900. It
should be noted that "romantic music" and the polyseme phrase "Romantic music" have two
essentially different meanings. The first, "romantic music," is commonly used to indicate any
kind of music that is expressive of personal feelings, often of a tender or intimate nature. Only a
minor part of "romantic" music is "Romantic," and vice-versa.

Romantic music as a movement does not refer to the expression and expansion of musical ideas
established in earlier periods, such as the classical period. Romanticism does not necessarily
apply to romantic love, but that theme was prevalent in many works composed during this time
period. More appropriately, romanticism describes the expansion of formal structures within a
composition, making the pieces more passionate and expressive. Because of the expansion of
form (those elements pertaining to form, key, instrumentation and the likes) within a typical
composition, it became easier to identify an artist based on the work. For example, Beethoven
favored a smooth transition from the 3rd to 4th movement in his symphonies, and thus his pieces
are more distinguishable. Overall, composers during this time expanded on formal ideas in a new
and exciting way.

The era of Romantic music is defined in this article as the period of European classical music
that runs roughly from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to around the end of the 19th century, as
well as music written according to the norms and styles of that period. The Romantic period was
preceded by the classical period, and was followed by the modernist period.

Romantic music is related to romanticism in literature, visual arts, and philosophy, though the
conventional time periods used in musicology are very different from their counterparts in the
other arts, which define "romantic" as running from the 1780s to the 1840s. The Romantic
movement held that not all truth could be deduced from axioms, that there were inescapable
realities in the world which could only be reached through emotion, feeling and intuition.
Romantic music struggled to increase emotional expression and power to describe these deeper
truths, while preserving or even extending the formal structures from the classical period.
• 1 Trends of the 19th century
o 1.1 Musical language
o 1.2 Non-musical influences
o 1.3 19th-century opera
o 1.4 Nationalism
o 1.5 The main characteristics of Romantic music
• 2 Chronology
o 2.1 Classical roots (1780-1800)
o 2.2 Early Romantic (1800-1850)
o 2.3 Late Romantic Era (1850-1910)
o 2.4 Romanticism in the 20th century
• 3 See also
• 4 References
• 5 Further reading

• 6 External links

Trends of the 19th century

Musical language

Music theorists of this era established the concept of tonality to describe the harmonic
vocabulary inherited from the Baroque and Classical periods. Composers sought to fuse the large
structural harmonic planning demonstrated by earlier masters such as Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and
Beethoven with further chromatic innovations, in order to achieve greater fluidity and contrast,
and to meet the needs of longer works. Chromaticism grew more varied, as did dissonances and
their resolution. Composers modulated to increasingly remote keys, and their music often
prepared the listener less for these modulations than the music of the classical era. Sometimes,
instead of a pivot chord, a pivot note was used. The properties of the diminished seventh and
related chords, which facilitate modulation to many keys, were also extensively exploited.
Composers such as Beethoven, and later Richard Wagner, expanded the harmonic language with
previously-unused chords, or innovative chord progressions. Much has been written, for
example, about Wagner's Tristan chord, found near the opening of Tristan und Isolde, and its
precise harmonic function.

Some composers analogized music to poetry and its rhapsodic and narrative structures, while
creating a more systematic basis for the composing and performing of concert music. Music
theorists of this era codified previous practices, such as the sonata form, while composers
extended them. There was an increasing focus on melodies and themes, as well as an explosion
in the composition of songs. The emphasis on melody found expression in the increasingly
extensive use of cyclic form, which was an important unifying device for some of the longer
pieces that became common during the period.
The greater harmonic elusiveness and fluidity, the longer melodies, poesis as the basis of
expression, and the use of literary inspirations were all present prior to this period. However,
some composers of the Romantic period adopted them as the central pursuit of music itself.
Composers were also influenced by technological advances, including an increase in the range
and power of the piano and the improved chromatic abilities and greater projection of the
instruments of the symphony orchestra.

Non-musical influences

One of the controversies that raged through this period was the relationship of music to external
texts or sources. While program music was common before the 19th century, the conflict
between formal and external inspiration became an important aesthetic issue for some

During the 1830s Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, which was presented with an
extensive program text, caused many critics and academics to pick up their pens. Prominent
among the detractors was François-Joseph Fétis, the head of the newly-founded Brussels
Conservatory, who declared that the work was "not music." Robert Schumann defended the
work, but not the program, saying that bad titles would not hurt good music, but good titles could
not save a bad work. Franz Liszt was one of the prominent defenders of extra-musical

This rift grew, with polemics delivered from both sides. For the supporters of "absolute" music,
formal perfection rested on musical expression that obeys the schematics laid down in previous
works, most notably the sonata form then being codified. To the adherents of program music, the
rhapsodic expression of poetry or some other external text was, itself, a form. They argued that
for the artist to bring his life into a work, the form must follow the narrative. Both sides used
Beethoven as inspiration and justification. The rift was exemplified by the conflict between
followers of Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner: Brahms' disciples took him to be a pinnacle
of absolute music, while Wagnerites put their faith in the poetic "substance" shaping the
harmonic and melodic flow of his music.

Examples of music inspired by literary and artistic sources include Liszt's Faust Symphony,
Dante Symphony, his symphonic poems and his Annees de Pelerinage, Tchaikovsky's Manfred
Symphony, Mahler's First Symphony (based on the novel Titan), the piano cycles of Robert
Schumann and the tone poems of Richard Strauss. Schubert included material from his Lieder in
some of his extended works, and others, such as Liszt, transcribed opera arias and songs for solo
instrumental performance.

Events and changes that happen in society such as ideas, attitudes, discoveries, inventions, and
historical events always affect music (Schmidt-Jones 3). For example, the Industrial Revolution
was in full effect by the late eighteenth early nineteenth centuries (Schmidt-Jones 3). This event
had a very profound effect on music: there were major improvements in the mechanical valves,
and keys that most woodwinds and brass instruments depend on (Schmidt-Jones 3). The new and
innovative instruments could be played with more ease and they were more reliable (Schmidt-
Jones 3). The new instruments often had a bigger, fuller, better-tuned sound (Schmidt-Jones 3).
Another development that had an effect on music was the rise of the middle class. Composers,
before this period, lived on the patronage of the aristocracy (Schmidt-Jones 3). Many times their
audience was small, composed mostly of the upper class and individuals who were
knowledgeable about music (Schmidt-Jones 3). The Romantic composers, on the other hand,
often wrote for public concerts and festivals, with large audiences of paying customers, who had
not necessarily had any music lessons (Schmidt-Jones 3). Composers of the Romantic Era, like
Elgar, showed the world that there should be "no segregation of musical tastes" (Young, A
History of British Music 525) and that the "purpose was to write music that was to be heard"
(Young, A History of British Music 527).

19th-century opera

In opera, the forms for individual numbers that had been established in classical and baroque
opera were more loosely used. By the time Wagner's operas were performed, arias, choruses,
recitatives and ensemble pieces often cannot easily be distinguished from each other in the
continuous, through-composed music.

The decline of castrati led to the heroic leading role in many operas being ascribed to the tenor
voice. The chorus was often given a more important role.

In France, operas such as Bizet's Carmen are typical, but towards the end of the Romantic
period, verismo opera became popular, particularly in Italy. It depicted realistic, rather than
historical or mythological, subjects.


The increasing importance of nationalism as a political force in the 19th century was mirrored in
music and the other arts. Many composers expressed their nationalism by incorporating elements
unique to their native cultures, such as folk song, dances, and legendary histories. In addition to
these exterior elements, there was an increasing diversification of musical language, as
composers used elements of rhythm, melody, and modality characteristic of their respective

Many composers wrote nationalist music, especially towards the middle and end of the 19th
century. Mikhail Glinka's operas, for example, are on specifically Russian subjects, while
Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák both used rhythms and themes from Czech folk dances
and songs. Late in the 19th century, Jean Sibelius wrote music based on the Finnish epic, the
Kalevala and his piece 'Finlandia' became a symbol of Finnish nationalism. Chopin wrote in
forms like the polonaise and mazurka, that were derived from Polish folk music. Many Russian
composers, for example Balakirev, Cui, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov shared the common dream
to write music that was inspired by Russian folk music.

The main characteristics of Romantic music

• A freedom in form and design; a more intense personal expression of emotion in which
fantasy, imagination and a quest for adventure play an important part.
• Emphasis on lyrical, songlike melodies; adventurous modulation; richer harmonies, often
chromatic, with striking use of discords.
• Denser, weightier textures with bold dramatic contrasts, exploring a wider range of pitch,
dynamics and tone-colours.
• Expansion of the orchestra, sometimes to gigantic proportions; the invention of the valve
system leads to development of the brass section whose weight and power often dominate
the texture.
• Rich variety of types of piece, ranging from songs and fairly short piano pieces to huge
musical canvasses with lengthy time-span structures with spectacular, dramatic, and
dynamic climaxes.
• Closer links with other arts lead to a keener interest in programme music (programme
symphony, symphonic poem, concert overture).
• Shape and unity brought to lengthy works by use of recurring themes (sometimes
transformed/developed): idée fixe (Berlioz), thematic transformations (Liszt), leading-
motive (Wagner), motto theme.
• Greater technical virtuosity – especially from pianists and violinists.
• Nationalism: reaction against German influences by composers of other countries
(especially Russia, Bohemia, Norway).

Classical roots (1780-1800)

In literature, the Romantic period is often taken to start in 1770s or 1780s Germany with the
movement known as Sturm und Drang ("storm and stress") attended by a greater regard for
Shakespeare and Homer, and for folk sagas, whether genuine or Ossian. It affected writers
including Goethe and Schiller, while in Scotland Robert Burns began setting down folk music.
[citation needed]
This literary movement is reflected in the music of contemporary composers,
including Mozart's German operas, Haydn's so-called Sturm und Drang symphonies, the lyrics
that composers (particularly Schubert) chose for their Lieder, and a gradual increase in the
violence of emotion that music expressed. As long as most composers relied on royal or court
patronage, their opportunity to engage in "romanticism and revolt" was limited. Mozart's troubles
in the banning of his The Marriage of Figaro as revolutionary are a case in point.

Romanticism drew its fundamental formal substance from the structures of classical practice.
Performing standards improved during the classical era with the establishment of performing
groups of professional musicians. The role of chromaticism and harmonic ambiguity developed
during the classical era. All of the major classical composers used harmonic ambiguity, and the
technique of moving rapidly between different keys. One of the most famous examples is the
"harmonic chaos" at the opening of Haydn's The Creation, in which the composer avoids
establishing a "home" key at all.

By the 1810s, the use of chromaticism and the minor key, and the desire to move into remote
keys to give music a deeper range, were combined with a greater operatic reach. While
Beethoven would later be regarded as the central figure in this movement, it was composers such
as Clementi and Spohr who represented the contemporary taste in incorporating more chromatic
notes into their thematic material. There was a tension between the desire for more expressive
"color" and the desire for classical structure. One response was in the field of opera, where texts
could provide structure in the absence of formal models. E. T. A. Hoffmann is principally known
as a critic these days, but his opera Undine of 1814 was a radical musical innovation. Another
response to the tension between structure and emotional expression was in shorter musical forms,
including novel ones such as the nocturne.

Early Romantic (1800-1850)

By the second decade of the 19th century, the shift towards new sources of musical inspiration,
along with an increasing chromaticism in melody and
more expressive harmony, became a palpable stylistic
shift. The forces underlying this shift were not only
musical, but economic, political and social.[citation needed] A
new generation of composers emerged in post-
Napoleonic Europe, among whom were Beethoven,
Ludwig Spohr, ETA Hoffman, Carl Maria von Weber
and Franz Schubert.

These composers grew up amidst the dramatic expansion

of public concert life during the late 18th and early 19th
centuries, which partly shaped their subsequent styles
and expectations. Beethoven was extremely influential as
among the first composers to work freelance rather than
being employed full-time by a royal or ecclesiastic
patron. The chromatic melodies of Muzio Clementi and
the stirring operatic works of Rossini, Cherubini and
Méhul, also had an influence. The setting of folk poetry
and songs for voice and piano, to serve a growing market
of middle-class homes where private music-making was
becoming an essential part of domestic life, was also
becoming an important source of income for composers.
Manuscript sketch for Piano Sonata
No. 28, Movement IV, Geschwind, Works of this group of early Romantics include the song
doch nicht zu sehr und mit cycles and later symphonies of Franz Schubert, and the
Entschlossenheit (Allegro), in Ludwig operas of Weber, particularly Oberon, Der Freischütz
van Beethoven's handwriting. and Euryanthe. Schubert's work found limited
Composed in 1816, this is the first contemporary audiences, and only gradually had a wider
piano sonata from Beethoven's late impact. In contrast, the compositions of John Field
romantic period. quickly became well-known, partly because he had a gift
for creating small "characteristic" piano forms and

Early-Romantic composers of a slightly later generation included Franz Liszt, Felix

Mendelssohn, Frédéric Chopin, and Hector Berlioz. All were born in the 19th century, and
produced works of lasting value early in their careers. Mendelssohn was particularly precocious,
and wrote two string quartets, a string octet, and orchestral music before even leaving his teens.
Chopin was similarly precocious, his famous Op. 10 Études being written while still a teen,
although he focused on compositions for the piano. Berlioz broke new ground in his
orchestration, and with his programatic symphonies Symphonie Fantastique and Harold in Italy,
the latter based on Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.

What is now labelled "Romantic Opera" became established at around this time, with a strong
connection between Paris and northern Italy. The combination of French orchestral virtuosity,
Italianate vocal lines and dramatic flare, along with texts drawn from increasingly popular
literature, established a norm of emotional expression which continues to dominate the operatic
stage. The work of Bellini and Donizetti was immensely popular at this time.

Virtuoso concerts (or "recitals," as they were called by Franz Liszt) became immensely popular.
This phenomenon was pioneered by Niccolò Paganini, the famous violin virtuoso. The virtuoso
piano recital became particularly popular, and often included improvisations on popular themes,
and the performance of shorter compositions as well as longer works such as the sonatas of
Beethoven and Mozart. One of the most prominent exponents of Beethoven was Clara Wieck,
who later married Robert Schumann. The increase in travel, facilitated by rail and later by
steamship, created international audiences for touring piano virtuosi such as Liszt, Chopin and
Thalberg. Concerts and recitals were promoted as significant events. Such was also the case with
other instruments than the piano such as the harp. The best illustration can be found with the
popular and eccentric French composer and harpist Nicolas Bochsa who travelled most of his life
giving hundreds of harp "recitals" and concerts.

During the late 1830s and 1840s, music of Romantic expression became generally accepted,
even expected. The music of Robert Schumann, Giacomo Meyerbeer and the young Giuseppe
Verdi continued the trends. "Romanticism" was not, however, the only, or even the dominant,
style of music making at the time. A post-classical style exemplified by the Paris Conservatoire,
as well as court music, still dominated concert programs. This began to change with the rise of
performing institutions, along the lines of the Philharmonic Society of London founded in 1813.
Such institutions often promoted regular concert seasons, a trend promoted by Felix
Mendelssohn among others. Listening to music came to be accepted as a life-enhancing, almost
religious, experience. The public's engagement in the music of the time contrasted with the less
formal manners of concerts in the classical period, where music had often been promoted as a
background diversion.

Also in the 1830s and 1840s Richard Wagner produced his first successful operas. He argued for
a radically expanded conception of "musical drama." A man who described himself as a
revolutionary, and who was in constant trouble with creditors and the authorities, he began
gathering around him a body of like-minded musicians, including Franz Liszt, who dedicated
themselves to making the "Music of the Future."

Literary Romanticism ended in 1848, with the revolutions of that year marking a turning point in
the mood of Europe. With the rise of realism, as well as the deaths of Paganini, Mendelssohn and
Schumann, and Liszt's retirement from public performance, perceptions altered of where the
cutting edge in music and art lay.
Late Romantic Era (1850-1910)

As the 19th century moved into its second half, many social, political and economic changes set
in motion in the post-Napoleonic period became entrenched. Railways and the electric telegraph
bound the European world ever closer together. The nationalism that had been an important
strain of early 19th century Romantic music became formalized by political and linguistic means.
Literature for the middle classes became the publishing norm, including the rise of the novel as
the primary literary form.

In the previous 50 years numerous innovations in instrumentation, including the double

escarpment piano action, the valved wind instrument, and the chin rest for violins and violas,
were no longer novelties but requirements. The dramatic increase in musical education brought a
still wider sophisticated audience, and many composers took advantage of the greater regularity
of concert life, and the greater financial and technical resources available. These changes brought
an expansion in the sheer number of symphonies, concertos and "tone poems" which were
composed, and the number of performances in the opera seasons in Paris, London and Italy. The
establishment of conservatories and universities also created centers where musicians could
forge stable teaching careers, rather than relying on their own entrepreneurship.

During this late Romantic period, some composers created styles and forms associated with their
national folk cultures. The notion that there were "German" and "Italian" styles had long been
established in writing on music, but the late 19th century saw the rise of a nationalist Russian
style (Glinka, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Borodin), and also Czech,
Finnish and French nationalist styles of composition. Some composers were expressly
nationalistic in their objectives, seeking to rediscover their country's national identity in the face
of occupation or oppression, as did for example the Bohemians Bedřich Smetana and Antonín
Dvořák, and the Finn Jean Sibelius.

Romanticism in the 20th century

Many composers born in the nineteenth century continued to compose in a Romantic style well
into the 20th century, such as Richard Strauss and Sergei Rachmaninoff. In addition, many
composers who would later be identified as musical modernists composed works in Romantic
styles early in their career, including Igor Stravinsky with his Firebird ballet, Arnold Schoenberg
with Gurrelieder, and Béla Bartók with Bluebeard's Castle.

The vocabulary and structure of the music of the late 19th century were no mere relics;
composers including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Berthold
Goldschmidt, George Lloyd, and Sergei Prokofiev continued to compose works in recognizably
Romantic styles after 1950. While new tendencies such as neo-classicism and atonal music
challenged the preeminence of the Romantic style, the desire to use a tonally-centered chromatic
vocabulary remained present in major works. Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten, Gustav Holst,
Dmitri Shostakovich, Malcolm Arnold and Arnold Bax drew frequently from musical
Romanticism in their works, and did not consider themselves old-fashioned.
Musical romanticism reached a rhetorical and artistic nadir around 1960: it seemed as if the
future lay with avant garde styles of composition, or with neo-classicism of some kind. While
Hindemith moved back to a style more recognizably rooted in romanticism, most composers
moved in the other direction. Only in the conservative academic hierarchy of the USSR and
China did it seem that musical romanticism had a place. However, by the late 1960s a revival of
music using the surface of musical romanticism began. Composers such as George Rochberg
switched from serialism to models drawn from Gustav Mahler, a project which found him the
company of Nicholas Maw, David Del Tredici and Krzysztof Penderecki, whose Second
("Christmas") Symphony represents a stark contrast to its modernist predecessor. This movement
is described as Neo-Romanticism, and includes works such as John Corigliano's First Symphony.

Another area where the Romantic style has survived, and even flourished, is in film scoring.
Many of the early émigres escaping from Nazi Germany were Jewish composers who had
studied, or even studied under, Gustav Mahler's disciples in Vienna. Max Steiner's lush score for
Gone with the Wind provides an example of the use of Wagnerian leitmotifs and Mahlerian
orchestration. The "Golden Age of Hollywood" film music rested heavily on the work of
composers such as Korngold and Steiner as well as Franz Waxman, Alfred Newman. In Britain,
composers such as William Alwyn and Richard Addinsell echoed this approach in their film
work. The next generation of film composers, such as Alex North, John Barry, Elmer Bernstein,
Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone and John Williams drew on this tradition, often replicating the
motifs of the earlier era to write some of the most familiar orchestral music of the late 20th
20th century classical music
Periods of European art music At the turn of the 20th century classical music was
Early characteristically late Romantic in style, while at the same
Medieval (500 – 1400) time the Impressionist movement, spearheaded by Claude
Renaissance (1400 – 1600) Debussy was taking form. America began forming its own
vernacular style of classical music, notably in the works of
Common practice
Charles Ives, John Alden Carpenter, and (later) George
Baroque (1600 – 1760) Gershwin, while in Vienna, Arnold Schoenberg conceived
Classical (1730 – 1820) atonality, and later developed the twelve-tone technique.
Romantic (1815 – 1910) Classical music in the 20th century varied greatly, from the
Modern and contemporary expressionism of early Schoenberg, Neoclassical music of
20th century (1900 – 2000) Igor Stravinsky, the futurism (bruitisme and "machine
Contemporary (1975 – present) music") of Luigi Russolo, Alexander Mossolov, early
Prokofiev and Antheil, to the microtonal music of Julián
Carrillo, Alois Hába, Harry Partch, and Ben Johnston, to the socialist realism of late Prokofiev
and Glière, Kabalevsky, and other Russian composers, as well as the simple harmonies and
rhythms of minimalist composers such as Steve Reich, and Philip Glass, to the musique concrète
of Pierre Schaeffer and the intuitive music of Karlheinz Stockhausen; from the total serialism of
Pierre Boulez and the political commitment of Luigi Nono to the aleatoric music of John Cage.

Perhaps the most salient feature during this time period of classical music was the increased use
of dissonance. Because of this, the twentieth century is sometimes called the "Dissonant Period"
of classical music, following the common practice period, which emphasized consonance
(Schwartz and Godfrey 1993, 9–43). The watershed transitional moment was the international
Paris Exposition celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution, in 1889 (Fauser 2005).
While some writers hold that Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi- d'un faune and Schoenberg's
Verklärte Nacht are dramatic departures from Romanticism and have strong modernist traits
(Ibid.), others hold that the Schoenberg work is squarely within the late-Romantic tradition of
Wagner and Brahms (Neighbour 2001, 582) and, more generally, that "the composer who most
directly and completely connects late Wagner and the twentieth century is Arnold Schoenberg"
(Salzman 1988, 10).

An important feature of twentieth-century concert music is the splitting of the audience into
traditional and avant-garde, with many figures prominent in one world considered minor or
unacceptable in the other.[citation needed] Composers such as Anton Webern, Elliott Carter, Edgard
Varèse, Milton Babbitt, Luigi Nono and Luciano Berio have devoted followings within the
avant-garde, but are often attacked outside of it. As time has passed, however, it is increasingly
accepted, though by no means universally so, that the boundaries are more porous than the many
polemics would lead one to believe: many of the techniques pioneered by the above composers
show up in popular music by The Beatles, Deep Purple, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Pink
Floyd, ELP, Mike Oldfield, Enigma, Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre and in film scores (plus video
game music, to an extent) that draw mass audiences.
It should be kept in mind that this article presents an overview of twentieth-century classical
music and many of the composers listed under the following trends and movements may not
identify exclusively as such and may be considered as participating in different movements. For
instance, at different times during his career, Igor Stravinsky may be considered a romantic,
modernist, neoclassicist, and a serialist.

• 1 Romantic style
o 1.1 Second Viennese School, atonality, twelve-tone technique, and serialism
o 1.2 Free dissonance and experimentalism
o 1.3 Neoclassicism
• 2 Post-modernist music
o 2.1 Birth of post-modernism
o 2.2 Minimalism
• 3 Electronic music
• 4 Jazz-influenced classical composition
• 5 Recording Technology
• 6 Other
• 7 Notable 20th century composers
• 8 See also
• 9 References
o 9.1 Publishers
• 10 Further reading

• 11 External links

Romantic style
Particularly in the early part of the century, many composers wrote music which was an
extension of nineteenth-century Romantic music, and traditional instrumental groupings such as
the orchestra and string quartet remained the most usual. Traditional forms such as the symphony
and concerto remained in use. (See Romantic Music)

Many prominent composers — among them Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, Maurice
Ravel, and Benjamin Britten — made significant advances in style and technique while still
employing a melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, structural, and textural language which was related to
that of the nineteenth century.

Music along these lines was written throughout the twentieth century, and continues to be written
Second Viennese School, atonality, twelve-tone technique, and serialism

Arnold Schoenberg is one of the most significant figures in 20th century music. In 1921, he
developed the twelve-tone technique of composition, which he first described privately to his
associates in 1923 (Schoenberg 1975, 213).

In Europe, the "punctual", "pointist", or "pointillist" style of Messiaen's "Mode de valeurs et

d'intensités"—in which individual tones' characteristics, or "parameters" are each determined
independently—was very influential in the years immediately following 1951 among composers
such as Pierre Boulez, Karel Goeyvaerts, Luigi Nono and Karlheinz Stockhausen.[citation needed]

Free dissonance and experimentalism

In the early part of the 20th century Charles Ives integrated American and European traditions as
well as vernacular and church styles, while innovating in rhythm, harmony, and form
(Burkholder 2001). Edgard Varèse wrote highly dissonant pieces that utilized unusual sonorities
and futuristic, scientific sounding names.


Post-modernist music
Birth of post-modernism

Post-modernism can be said to be a response to modernism, but it can also be viewed as a

response to a deep-seated shift in societal attitude. According to this view, postmodernism began
when historic (as opposed to personal) optimism turned to pessimism, at the latest by 1930
(Meyer 1994, 331).

John Cage is a prominent figure in 20th century music whose influence steadily grew during his
lifetime. Michael Nyman argues that minimalism was a reaction to and made possible by both
serialism and indeterminism (Nyman 1999, 139). (See also experimental music)


Many composers[weasel words] in the later twentieth century began to explore what is now called
minimalism. Early examples include Terry Riley's In C and Steve Reich's Drumming.

Electronic music
Technological advances in the 20th century enabled composers to use electronic means of
producing sound. The first electronic musical instrument was invented in The United States in
1897 by Thaddeus Cahill, and was called the telharmonium.[citation needed] Some composers simply
incorporated electronic instruments into relatively conventional pieces.[citation needed]
Other composers abandoned conventional instruments and used magnetic tape to create music,
recording sounds and then manipulating them in some way. Sometimes such electronic music
was combined with more conventional instruments, Stockhausen's Hymnen, Edgard Varèse's
Déserts, and Mario Davidovsky's Synchronisms offer three examples.

Jazz-influenced classical composition

A number of composers combined elements of the jazz idiom with classical compositional styles,
notably George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein.

Recording Technology
The 20th century saw a change in the way in which classical music was heard. Advances in
recording technologies, beginning with the rise in popularity of the phonograph in the early part
of the century, and later with the inventions of the cassette and the compact disk, has led to sheet
music losing its place as the principal means by which music is distributed[citation needed]. In addition,
broadcasting technologies, such as radio and television have meant that the concert hall is no
longer the only means by which a performance can reach its audience.

Prominent spectral composers include Tristan Murail and Gérard Grisey, and the 'post-spectral'
composers Kaija Saariaho and Magnus Lindberg.

Notable 20th century composers

• Milton Babbitt • Claude Debussy • Paul Hindemith • Carl Orff • Jean Sibelius
• Samuel Barber • Frederick Delius • Gustav Holst • Sergei Prokofiev • Karlheinz
• Béla Bartók • Franco Donatoni • Charles Ives • Giacomo Puccini Stockhausen
• George Benjamin • Henri Dutilleux • Mauricio Kagel • Sergei • Richard Strauss
• Alban Berg • Edward Elgar • Ernst Krenek Rachmaninoff • Igor Stravinsky
• Luciano Berio • George Enescu • György Ligeti • Maurice Ravel • Edgard Varèse
• Leonard Bernstein • Manuel de Falla • Witold • Steve Reich • Ralph Vaughan
• Harrison Birtwistle• Gabriel Fauré Lutosławski • Ottorino Respighi Williams
• Pierre Boulez • Morton Feldman • Gustav Mahler • Ned Rorem • Heitor Villa-
• Benjamin Britten • George Gershwin • Olivier Messiaen • Arnold Lobos
• John Cage • Alberto Ginastera • Gian-Carlo Schoenberg • William Walton
• Roberto Carnevale • Howard Hanson Menotti • Anton Webern
• Elliott Carter • Carl Nielsen • Dmitri • Kurt Weill
• Aaron Copland • Roy Harris Shostakovich • Iannis Xenakis
• Luigi Nono
• Peter Maxwell • Frank Zappa
Contemporary music
In the broadest and popular sense, Contemporary music is any music being written in the
present day. This could include any kind of present music. However in the strict historical and
musicological terminology, the term Contemporary music exclusively refers to the modern
forms of art music, this includes:

• The post-1945 modern forms of post-tonal music after the death of Anton Webern[1]
(including serial music, Concrete music, experimental music, atonal music, etc.)

In a more restricted sense it may only include the most recent forms of this music:

• Contemporary classical music (post-1975)[2] (including post-modern music, Spectral

music, minimalist music, etc.)

In a much less restricted sense the term contemporary is sometimes used to refer to certain
generational trends in music.[3] The pop era of the late 80's early 90's, though contemporary in its
day, would no longer be considered contemporary in the 21st century. With the rapid growth of
indie labels, the music industry has grown exponentially over the last 5 years introducing genres
never before heard of. Thus contemporary music can easily be defined by current market trends.