Beginner Primer Guitar course
A bit of music history

Contemporary & Classical music

In this lesson we will take a deeper look into contemporary music and classical music and the history behind them.

Content of this lesson Classical music History of classical music Contemporary music Reference
There are no rows in this table

Classical music

Classical music is produced or rooted in the traditions of , including both (religious) and .
European art music is largely distinguished from many other non-European classical and some popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 11th century. Catholic monks developed the first forms of modern European musical notation in order to standardize liturgy throughout the worldwide Church. Western staff notation is used by composers to indicate to the performer the pitches and durations for a piece of music. In contrast to most popular styles that adopted the song (strophic) form or a derivation of this form, classical music has been noted for its development of highly sophisticated forms of instrumental music such as the symphony, concerto, fugue, sonata, and mixed vocal and instrumental styles such as opera, cantata, and mass. Alongside traditional musical attributes, Classical music is conscientious about drawing from and repurposing its formal and social tradition with forms such as the Mass evolving and communicating through over a thousand years.

The term "classical music" did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to distinctly canonize the period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Ludwig van Beethoven as a golden age. The earliest reference to "classical music" recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is from about 1829.
Works of classical repertoire often exhibit complexity in their use of , , , , , , , and
. Whereas most popular styles are usually written in , classical music is noted for its development of highly sophisticated instrumental musical forms,
like the , and . Classical music is also noted for its use of sophisticated vocal/instrumental forms, such as . In opera, vocal soloists and choirs perform staged dramatic works with an orchestra providing accompaniment.
Longer instrumental works are often divided into self-contained pieces, called , often with contrasting characters or moods. For instance, symphonies written during the Classical period are usually divided into four movements:
an opening in ,
a slow movement,
a or
a final Allegro.
These movements can then be further broken down into a hierarchy of smaller units: first , then , and finally .

History of Classical Music

Medieval (c.1150 - c.1400)
This is the first period where we can begin to be fairly certain as to how a great deal of the music which has survived actually sounded. The earliest written secular music dates from the 12th century (in the form of virelais, estampies, ballades, etc.), but most notated manuscripts emanate from places of learning usually connected with the church, and therefore inevitably have a religious basis.
and plainsong which are monodic (i.e. written as one musical line) gradually developed during the 11th to 13th centuries into organum (i.e. two or three lines moving simultaneously but independently, therefore almost inadvertently representing the beginnings of harmony). Organum was, however, initially rather stifled by rigid rules governing melody and rhythm, which led ultimately to the so-called Ars Nova period of the 14th century, principally represented by the composers de Vitry, , and .
Renaissance (c.1400 - c.1600)
The fifteenth century witnessed vastly increased freedoms, most particularly in terms of what is actually perceived as and (the simultaneous movement of two or three interrelated parts). Composers (although they were barely perceived as such) were still almost entirely devoted to choral writing, and the few instrumental compositions which have survived often create the impression (in many cases entirely accurately) of being vocal works in disguise, but minus the words.
There is obvious new delight in textural variety and contrast, so that, for example, a particular section of text might be enhanced by a vocal part dropping out momentarily, only to return again at a special moment of emphasis. The four most influential composers of the fifteenth century were Dunstable, Ockeghem, Despres and Dufay.
The second half of the 16th century witnessed the beginnings of the tradition which many music lovers readily associate with the normal feel of 'classical' music. Gradually, composers moved away from the modal system of harmony which had predominated for over 300 years (and still sounds somewhat archaic to some modern ears), towards the organisation of their work into major and minor scales, thereby imparting the strong sensation of each piece having a definite tonal centre or 'key'.
This was also something of a golden period for choral composition as a seemingly endless flow of a capella (unaccompanied) masses, motets, anthems, psalms and madrigals flowed from the pens of the masters of the age. In addition, instrumental music came into its own for the first time, especially keyboard music in the form of fantasias, variations, and dance movements (galliards, pavanes etc.). Composers of particular note include , ,
, , , , , , , , and .
Baroque (c.1600 - c.1750)
During the Baroque period, the foundations were laid for the following 300 or so years of musical expression: the idea of the modern orchestra was born, along with opera (including the overture, prelude, aria, recitative and chorus), the concerto, sonata, and modern cantata. The rather soft-grained viol string family of the Renaissance was gradually replaced by the bolder violin, viola and cello, the harpsichord was invented, and important advances were made in all instrumental groups.Until about 1700, the old modes still exerted themselves from time to time by colouring certain melodic lines or chord progressions, but from the beginning of the 18th century the modern harmonic system based upon the major and minor scales was effectively pan-European. Choral music no longer dominated, and as composers turned more and more to writing idiomatic instrumental works for ensembles of increasing colour and variety, so 'classical' music (as opposed to 'popular') gradually began to work its way into the very fabric of society, being played outdoors at dinner parties or special functions (e.g. ), or as a spectacle in the form of opera. On a purely domestic level, every wealthy lady would have a spinet to play, and at meal-times the large and rich houses would employ musicians to play what was popularly called Tafelmusik in Germany, of which was perhaps the most famous composer.
Of the many 17th century composers who paved the way for this popular explosion of 'classical' music, the following were outstanding: , , , , , and . Yet, the most popular composers of the period, indeed those who seem to define by their very names the sound of Baroque music at its most colourful and sophisticated are , , , , , , and , all of them at their creative peak during the first half of the 18th century.

Classical (c.1750 - c.1830)

The Baroque era witnessed the creation of a number of musical genres which would maintain a hold on composition for years to come, yet it was the Classical period which saw the introduction of a form which has dominated instrumental composition to the present day: sonata form. With it came the development of the modern concerto, symphony, sonata, trio and quartet to a new peak of structural and expressive refinement. If Baroque music is notable for its textural intricacy, then the Classical period is characterised by a near-obsession with structural clarity.
The seeds of the Classical age were sown by a number of composers whose names are now largely forgotten such as Schobert and Honauer (both Germans largely active in Paris), as well as more historically respected names, including , and at least three of Johann Sebastian Bach's sons: , and (the so-called 'London' Bach). They were representative of a period which is variously described as rococo or galante, the former implying a gradual move away from the artifice of the High Baroque, the latter an entirely novel style based on symmetry and sensibility, which came to dominate the music of the latter half of the 18th century through two composers of extraordinary significance: and .

Early Romantic (c.1830 - c.1860)

As the Classical period reached its zenith, it was becoming increasingly clear (especially with the late works of and ) that the amount and intensity of expression composers were seeking to achieve was beginning to go beyond that which a Classically sized/designed orchestra/piano could possibly encompass. The next period in musical history therefore found composers attempting to balance the expressive and the formal in music with a variety of approaches which would have left composers of any previous age utterly bewildered. As the musical map opened up, with nationalist schools beginning to emerge, it was the search for originality and individuality of expression which began here that was to become such an overriding obsession in the present century.
The Romantic era was the golden age of the virtuoso, where the most fiendishly difficult music would be performed with nonchalant ease, and the most innocuous theme in a composition would be developed at great length for the enjoyment of the adoring audience. The emotional range of music during this period was considerably widened, as was its harmonic vocabulary and the range and number of instruments which might be called upon to play it. Music often had a 'programme' or story-line attached to it, sometimes of a tragic or despairing nature, occasionally representing such natural phenomena as rivers or galloping horses. The next hundred years would find composers either embracing whole-heartedly the ideals of Romanticism, or in some way reacting against them.

Contemporary music

The Contemporary Music period is the period following the . It is generally considered to have lasted from 1945 A.D. to the present. After the Romantic period, music began to differentiate into many varying genres, and as a result contemporary music as a term is used to denote the time period, rather than style. There are many sub-categories of Contemporary music, like minimalism, a style utilising limited music materials that has been explored by many artists including Steve Reich, John Adams, and Philip Glass. Other genres include neo romanticism, serialism, and postmodernism.
The Contemporary Era was formed during the last quarter of the nineteenth century through a painting movement called impressionism. Around 1870 a group of French painters rejected the Romantic Era. Twentieth Century music reflects the influences of art and literature of the mechanistic atomic age. The pleasant sounding impressionistic music, characterised by composers like Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, gave way to experiments with twelve tone music, often associated with the Second Viennese School. Some composers drew inspiration from across the world, like Olivier Messiaen, whose modes of limited transposition did not permit traditional cadences, and as a result his work is sometimes considered to be outside of the Western Classical Music tradition. Contemporary music also encompasses genres which may not be considered 'classical' by an average person. Many of these are often reliant on the quite recent invention of synthesised sounds or non-traditional scales and chords, such as jazz or electronic music.
The music also contains non-western melodies and leaves out romanticism.The Contemporary also introduces new scales as bases for melodies (whole-tone, modes, and chromatic) and chord uses. Some common characteristics, which are not always present and are not only specific to this period, include:
Fewer lyrical melodies than other periods.
Dissonant Harmonies
Complex rhythms
Greater use of percussion,brass,and woodwind.
Uses synthetic and electronic sounds

20th Century Music

During the 20th century there was a large increase in the variety of music that people had access to. Prior to the invention of mass market and , people mainly listened to music at live concerts or shows, which were too expensive for many working class people or by individuals performing music or singing songs on an amateur basis at home, using sheet music, which required the ability to sing, play, and read music. These were skills that tended to be limited to middle-class and upper-class individuals. With the mass-market availability of gramophone records and radio broadcasts, listeners could purchase recordings of, or listen on radio to recordings or live broadcasts of a huge variety of songs and musical pieces from around the globe. This enabled a much wider range of the population to listen to performances of Classical music and that they would not be able to hear live, either due to not being able to afford live-concert tickets or because such music was not performed in their region.
The 20th century saw dramatic innovations in musical forms and styles. Composers and songwriters explored new forms and sounds that challenged the previously accepted rules of music of earlier periods, such as the use of altered chords and extended chords in 1940s-era . The development of powerful, loud guitar amplifiers and sound reinforcement systems in the 1960s and 1970s permitted bands to hold large concerts where even those with the least expensive tickets could hear the show. Composers and songwriters experimented with new musical styles, such as genre fusions (e.g., the late 1960s fusion of
and to create ). As well, composers and musicians used new electric, electronic, and digital instruments and musical devices.

Folk music

Starting in the mid-20th century, a new form of popular folk music evolved from traditional folk music. This process and period is called the (second) folk revival and reached a zenith in the 1960s. This form of music is sometimes called or folk revival music to distinguish it from earlier folk forms. Smaller, similar revivals have occurred elsewhere in the world at other times, but the term folk music has typically not been applied to the new music created during those revivals. This type of folk music also includes fusion genres such as folk rock, folk metal, and others. While contemporary folk music is a genre generally distinct from traditional folk music, in U.S. English it shares the same name, and it often shares the same performers and venues as traditional folk music.
Prominent Folk music performers
was an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. His best-known song is "". Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. In the 1930s Guthrie traveled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California while learning, rewriting, and performing traditional folk and blues songs along the way. Many of the songs he composed were about his experiences in the era during the Great Depression, earning him the nickname the "Dust Bowl Balladeer". Songwriters such as Bob Dylan, , , , and have acknowledged their debt to Guthrie as an influence.
had met and been influenced by many important folk musicians , especially Woody Guthrie and . Seeger had involvements, and he met Guthrie at a "Grapes of Wrath" migrant workers’ concert on March 3, 1940, and the two thereafter began a musical collaboration and then formed . As a songwriter, Seeger authored or co-authored "", "", and "", all three of which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world. In 1948, Seeger wrote the first version of his now-classic How to Play the Five-String Banjo, an instructional book that many banjo players credit with starting them off on the instrument. He has recorded, sung, and performed for more than seventy years and has become the most powerful force in the American folk revival after Guthrie.

Blues music

Blues is a music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, and spirituals. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the is the most common. , usually thirds, fifths or sevenths flattened in pitch are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.
Many elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa. The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals. The first appearance of the blues is often dated to after the ending of slavery and, later, the development of juke joints. It is associated with the newly acquired freedom of the former slaves. Chroniclers began to report about blues music at the dawn of the 20th century. The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908. Blues has since evolved from unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves into a wide variety of styles and subgenres. Blues subgenres include , such as and , as well as urban blues styles such as and . World War II marked the transition from acoustic to and the progressive opening of blues music to a wider audience, especially white listeners. In the 1960s and 1970s, a hybrid form called developed, which blended blues styles with rock music.
Prominent blues artists
Blind Blake - What Charley Patton was to Delta blues, Blind Blake was to the Piedmont blues tradition. He was an absolute master of the guitar. He set the standard for the sophisticated ragtime influenced finger picking that became prevalent with players up and down the eastern seaboard. He was one of the blues men who actually sold a lot of records and achieved success and popularity in his own lifetime.
Muddy Waters - The main architect of post-war Chicago blues, McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, defined and shaped the electrification of the Delta blues with its move north, setting the standard for those that followed. His band was a starting point for many legendary performers through the years, including Little Walter and Otis Spann. The Rolling Stones took their name from one of Muddy's songs.
B.B. King - The most important and beloved ambassador of the blues is Riley "B.B." King. His wailing voice, distinctive guitar style, and classy approach have done more than anyone to spread the blues to the masses. His bending of the guitar strings and trademark "hummingbird" vibrato has been copied by countless guitar players, too numerous to mention.

Jazz music

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in and .
Since the 1920s , it has been recognized as a major form of musical expression in traditional and popular music, linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage. Jazz is characterized by and blue notes, complex chords, call and response vocals, and . Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions.
The origin of the word
has resulted in considerable research, and its history is well documented.Jazz is difficult to define because it encompasses a wide range of music spanning a period of over 100 years, from to the
-infused . Attempts have been made to define jazz from the perspective of other musical traditions, such as European music history or African music. But critic argues that its terms of reference and its definition should be broader, defining jazz as a "form of which originated in the United States through the confrontation of the Negro with European music" and arguing that it differs from European music in that jazz has a "special relationship to time defined as 'swing'". Jazz involves "a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role" and contains a "sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician’’.
Although jazz is considered difficult to define, in part because it contains many subgenres, is one of its defining elements. The centrality of improvisation is attributed to the influence of earlier forms of music such as , a form of folk music which arose in part from the and of African-American slaves on plantations. These work songs were commonly structured around a repetitive pattern, but early blues was also improvisational. performance is evaluated more by its fidelity to the , with less attention given to interpretation, ornamentation, and accompaniment. The classical performer's goal is to play the composition as it was written. In contrast, jazz is often characterized by the product of interaction and collaboration, placing less value on the contribution of the composer, if there is one, and more on the performer. The jazz performer interprets a tune in individual ways, never playing the same composition twice. Depending on the performer's mood, experience, and interaction with band members or audience members, the performer may change melodies, harmonies, and time signatures.
Prominent jazz artists
Louis Daniel Armstrong nicknamed "Satchmo", was an American , composer, vocalist, and actor who was among the most influential figures in
. His career spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and different eras in the history of jazz. Armstrong had nineteen "Top Ten" records including "", "", "", "", "", "", and "".
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a , which he led from 1923 until his death over a career spanning more than six decades.

John William Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinettist and composer. Working in the and idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes and was at the forefront of . He led at least fifty recording sessions and appeared on many albums by other musicians, including trumpeter and pianist . Over the course of his career, Coltrane's music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. He remains one of the most influential saxophonists in music history. He received numerous posthumous awards, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church and a in 2007

Popular music

Pop is a genre of that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the and the . The terms popular music and pop music are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many disparate styles. During the 1950s and 1960s, pop encompassed and the youth-oriented styles it influence d. Rock and pop remained roughly synonymous until the late 1960s, after which pop became associated with music that was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible.
According to , pop music is "professional music which draws upon both folk music and fine arts music". Although pop music is seen as just the , it is not the sum of all chart music. The music charts contain songs from a variety of sources, including ,
, and . As a genre, pop music is seen to exist and develop separately. Therefore, the term "pop music" may be used to describe a distinct genre, designed to appeal to all, often characterized as "instant singles-based music aimed at teenagers" in contrast to rock music as "album-based music for adults".

Prominent pop artists
The Beatles - The Beatles were an English rock band formed in in 1960. The group, whose best-known line-up comprised , , and , are regarded as the . They were integral to the development of and 's recognition as an art form. Rooted in ,
and 1950s , their sound incorporated elements of and in innovative ways; the band later explored music styles ranging from and to and . As pioneers in recording, songwriting and artistic presentation, the Beatles revolutionised many aspects of the music industry and were often publicised as leaders of the and sociocultural movements.

Elvis presley - Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), also known simply as Elvis, was an American singer, musician and actor. He is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century and is often referred to as the "" or simply "the King". His music career began there in 1954, recording at with producer , who wanted to bring the sound of to a wider audience. Presley, on rhythm acoustic guitar, and accompanied by lead guitarist and bassist , was a pioneer of , an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of and rhythm and blues. In 1955, drummer joined to complete the lineup of Presley's classic quartet and RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by , who would manage him for more than two decades. Presley's first RCA single, "", was released in January 1956 and became a number-one hit in the United States. With a series of successful network television appearances and chart-topping records, he became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll.
Michael Jackson - Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. Through stage and video performances, he popularized complicated dance moves such as the , to which he gave the name, and the . Jackson is one of the , with estimated sales of over 350 million records worldwide. Thriller is the , with estimated sales of 66 million copies worldwide. In addition, the (1997) is the best-selling remix album of all time.


Want to print your doc?
This is not the way.
Try clicking the ⋯ next to your doc name or using a keyboard shortcut (
) instead.