Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Part 1: Classical Music?

We are all familiar with the term classical music. To some the words highbrow,


old fashion,

or just plain old

might come to mind. If boring is your thought, I do hope that it will change in time. But what does the term actually mean?

Depending on what sources you research you might find a general or a precise definition. I would guess that most of us think of classical music as serious music of Europe and America that is performed mainly in concert halls. It would include instrumental, chamber music, vocal, and sacred music.

A strict meaning would be music of Europe that was composed from 1750 - 1820. But the general understanding is much broader. It would include music from a greater time frame, and various types of music would come under its umbrella. Listed below are the styles of music that would be listed as classical music. Note that in this broader sense classical is understood to be both the name for several styles and a style itself. Perhaps it would help to think of it as different musical eras under Classical Music, and the classical era being one of them.

Classical Music

Medieval Era: 500 - 1400 – characterized by Gregorian chant, mostly religious
Renaissance Era: 1400-1600 – increase of secular music, madrigals, harmony
Baroque Era: 1600-1750 – known for its intricate ornamentation
Classical Era: 1750-1820 – balance and structure
Romantic Era: 1820-1900 – emotional, large, programmatic
Current Era: beyond 1900 – limitless

If the medieval music era ranges from 500 - 1400 you might wonder what the era was preceding it. The best answer I can find is ancient music. This term includes music thoughout the ancient world. This would include Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, India, China, Greece and Rome. I will not rule out the possibility of looking into the music of the ancient world, but at a later time.

If you look up the definitions of these terms, you will find a few variations. Dates may be a little different, and the Current Era may be divided into a few other eras.
The purpose here is to gain a general understanding.

During the next few weeks I will post a little information about each musical style, or era, and link an example so you can listen.