These 10 Things You Should Know About Classical Music

Is classical music really difficult? Is classical music easy to understand? Can you play an instrument?


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Photo by Diogo Nunes on Unsplash

Classical music is in my blood and veins. I have told you that a million times before. I have played the cello when I was six, and one year later, I have exchanged the cello to play the violin.

I like playing the violin much more.

Since I started to play the violin I have been listening to other violinists as well as other musicians. In chamber music, as soloists and orchestra musicians. I love classical music so much. I listen to it every day. I am not such a pop music lover (although I love listening to Bon Jovi).

There are certain things when you listen to classical music you have to know, but when you play an instrument you also have to know certain things.

There are so many things that are difficult about classical music whether it is understanding it or playing an instrument. So, I will name 10 difficult things about classical music. 5 about playing an instrument, and 5 about listening to classical music.


Introduction to classical music

Classical music goes more than four or five hundred years back. Probably more years… But when it has been one of the music sorts people were listening to at these times.

All the music from ages ago is still be played by today’s musicians. It is maybe that the interpretations are a little bit different than when it just was composed or played in the time the compositions were written, but still with all the purposes of what the composer intended with the composition.

Style periods in classical music

There are several style periods in classical music. As classical music is going way back in time, there are periods in classical music how music should be played and listened to.

Periods we use in classical music:
For this, I used Wikipedia to be good informed — even I know this stuff.

These are the style we call ‘classical music’. But they are in general the other styles within the main style, developed during the years.

Ancient music period, before 500 AD is the musical system that was formed in the ancient past, literate cultures. That includes Mesopotamia, India, Persia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome. This replaced the prehistoric music. The basic notes and scales were the music, and ancient music was transmitted through oral or written systems.

The early music period generally comprises Medieval music and Renaissance music. It also can include Baroque music. Early music is a widespread musical period in the past of Western art music.

Medieval era (500 — 1420) are the songs, instrumental pieces, and liturgical music from about 500 A.D. to 1400. Medieval music was an era of Western music, including liturgical music (this also could be known as sacred). This music is used for in the church, and secular music, non-religious music. Medieval music includes only vocal music, such as Gregorian chant and choral music, individually instrumental music, and music that uses both voices and instruments. The instruments accompanying the voices. This style period includes Ars Antiqua, Ars Nova, and Ars Subtilior.

Ars Antiqua (1170 — 1310) is also called Ars Veterum or Ars Vetus. It is a term that is used by modern scholars to refer to the Medieval music of Europe during the High Middle Ages. This was between circa 1170 and 1310. This is also the period of the Notre-Dame school of polyphony — the use of multiple, simultaneous, independent melodic lines —, and the following years as well. These years were also the years of the early development of the motet — a highly diverse choral musical composition. The term Ars Antiqua is used in opposition to Ars Nova, which relates to the years of musical activity around 1310 — 1375.

Ars Nova (1310 — 1377), means “new art”, “new technique” or “new style”. Art Nova is a musical style that flourished in France and the Burgundian Low Countries (these are the areas that covered the main parts of present-day Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Hauts-de-France), in the late Middle Ages. In particular, the period between the preparation of the Roman de Fauvel (the 1310s) and the death of composer Guillaume de Machaut in 1377.

Ars Subtilior (1360 — 1420), is a musical style defined by rhythmic and notational complexity. This music was played most of the time in Paris, Avignon in southern France, but also in northern Spain, toward the end of the fourteenth century.

Renaissance-era (1400 — 1600) eras are vocal and instrumental music written and performed in Europe. That was during the Renaissance era. Music historians agreed that the start of the Renaissance era is around 1400, and ends around 1600.

The common-practice period, includes the Baroque era, the Galant music era, the Classical era, and the Romantic era.

Baroque era (1600 — 1750), is the time of the Western art music that has compositions from composers between 1600 and 1750. This era happened to be the Renaissance music era and was replaced by the Classical era, with the Galant style indicating the development between Baroque and Classical eras. The Baroque time is split into three major stages: early, middle, and late.

Galant music era (the 1720s — 1770s), refers to the technique which was played a lot between the 1720s and the 1770s. This change emphasized a coming back of simplicity and immediacy of interest after the complexity of the late Baroque era.

Classical era (1750 — 1820), was an era of classical music about 1730 and 1820. The Classical period happened between the Baroque and the Romantic periods. Classical music has a light and clear character than Baroque music and is less complex. The classical era is principally homophonic, it has a clear melody line over a lower chordal harmony, but the counterpoint was not forgotten. And especially later in the period.

Romantic era (c.1800 — 1910), is a stylistic evolution in Western classical music. It is linked with the time of the nineteenth century generally related to the Romantic era (or Romantic period). It is nearly associated with the wider idea of Romanticism — the intellectual, artistic, and literary evolution that became notable in Europe from about 1800 until 1910.

Late 19th-century to 20th- and 21st-centuries (1890 — present), this includes the Modernist era that overlaps from the late 19th century.

Modernist era (1890 — 1930/45), has the following eras: Impressionism that overlaps from the late 19th century, Expressionism, Neoclassicism which was a little bit dominant in the inter-war period. The Modernist era is an artistic position holding the period of transformation and growth in an artistic expression that happened around the turn of the 20th century. This period has a range of diverse reactions in challenging and interpretations of the older musical styles in music. There are lots of innovations in this style period that led to new ways of organizing and approaching harmonic, melodic, sonic, and rhythmic aspects of music.

Impressionism (1890 — 1925), was a change in a group of various composers in Western classical music. Most of their compositions focused on the mood and atmosphere. It was more focused on the general and the whole of the piece than the returning melody of the past music periods.

Expressionism (1908 — 1925), often a high level of dissonance, extreme contrasts of dynamics, constant changing of textures, “distorted” melodies and harmonies, and angular melodies with wide leaps are used in this style period.

Neoclassicism (1920 — 1950) — predominantly in the inter-war period, was a musical style in the 20th-century. This style was common in the interwar period. In this period composers attempted to go back to artistic rules of “classicism”; namely order, balance, clarity, economy, and emotional control.

Postmodern era/Contemporary (1930 — present), this includes the Experimental, Minimalism, Postminimalism.

The Postmodern era represents any music that results in artistic and profound bearings of postmodernism. This postmodernism was made slightly in response to modernism. It is not originally established as being the opposite style of modern music. Still, this is questioned.

The contemporary era is classical music is music written in the present day. It started at the beginning of the 21st century. It is included serial music, electronic music, experimental music, and minimalist music. More modern styles of music combine spectral music and post-minimalism.

Experimental (1950 — present), this is a style in music that pushes the existing limits and style keys. Experimental musical practice is interpreted by a wider awareness. Elements of experimental music include indeterminate music.

Minimalism (the early 1960s — 1990), uses limited or minimal musical elements. Notable characteristics of minimalist music are repetitive patterns or pulses, steady drones, consonant harmony, and repetition of musical phrases or smaller sections.

Postminimalism (the early 1980s — present), is a term invented by Robert Pincus-Witten in 1971 and it is used in multiple creative disciplines for the craft. It is influenced by or attempts to improve and go beyond, the aesthetic of minimalism.

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