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Characteristics of Classical Music
- There is a variety of moods and themes within a movement.
- Flexibility of rhythm.
- Are tuneful and easy to remember.
- Basically, in a homophonic texture.
For which 2 reasons was basso continuo abandoned by classical composers?
1. More music was now being written for amateur musicians who did not have the skills needed to improvise basso continuo.
2. Classical composers wanted more control over their work and preferred to write out all the parts.
How did the classical orchestra change?
- Classical orchestra became standardized; this was a representation of quality.
- Strings: 1st Violins, 2nd Violins, Violas, Cellos, Basses
- Woodwinds: 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Basoons
- Brass: 2 Trumpets, 2 Horns
- Percussion: 2 Timpani
The Role of Each Section
- Strings: The most important section of the orchestra with the most players. 1st violins play all the melodies and the other string instruments provide accompaniment.
- Woodwinds: Add contrast and variety and often play melodic solos.
- Brass: Add power and fill in the harmony.
- Percussion: Add a rhythmic emphasis.
How did the political unrest of the 18th century affect musicians?
- The monarch who one supported orchestras, opera companies, musicians, singers, and composers, are either dead or in hiding.
- There were few people wealthy enough to support the arts.
- As a result, we see the emerging Middle Class with more and more money taking on the responsibility of the developing of this new public institution.
- The Middle Class wanted not only the finer things in life (bigger homes, finer clothes, etc.), they also wanted the same luxuries that aristocracy wanted (literature, theater, and music).
An extended work for orchestra usually in four movements between 20 and 40 minutes long.
The typical order of movements in a Symphony or String Quartet:
I. A fast, vigorous, dramatic movement in Sonata form.
II. A slow, lyrical movement in Theme & Variation form.
III. A dance-like movement, either a minuet and trio form or scherzo form.
IV. A fast, brilliant or heroic movement in Rondo form.
What are the three main sections of Sonata form?
1. Exposition: In which the 2 contrasting themes are presented.
2. Development: In which the themes are treated in new and varied ways.
3. Recapitulation: In which the themes return.
It is the concluding section of Sonata form which gives the movement a sense of closure.
Theme & Variation form
A basic musical idea, the theme is repeated over and over, but is changed each time in some way.
does a Rondo form look like?
- A rondo features a tuneful main theme (A) which returns several times in alternation with other themes.
- A common Rondo pattern can be outlined as such: ABACA or ABACABA
Emotional subjectivity was a basic quality of Romanticism in art. Artists began to express their own personalities and subjective attitudes in their works.
What is the difference between the Classical Orchestra and the Romantic Orchestra?
- Classical was standardized -- about 30-40 people.
- Romantic was much larger and varied in tone color thant the standard orchestra -- it could include up to 100 musicians.
- Each section in the Romantic orchestra grew in size, color and took on a more active role in the orchestra.
- There were new instruments in the orchestra:
- Woodwinds: Piccolo, English Horn, Bass Clarinet, Contrabassoon
- Brass: Trombone, Tuba
- Percussion: Cymbals, Snare and Bass Drums, Triangles, Castanets, Chimes
- New tone colors were created by asking older existing instruments to be played in new ways such as:
- Flutists were asked to play in low, breathy ranges.
- Violinists were asked to strike the strings with the wood of their bows.
How did the role of the composer dramatically change in the romantic period/19th century?
- The Romantic composer was inspired by Beethoven as the “free artist” who composed, not because it was his job, but rather to fulfill an inner need to express an emotion, or idea.
- The Romantic composer wrote because he wanted to be immortal.
Night piece, that is a slow lyrical composition for piano, which tries to suggest the atmosphere of night, or evening.
Instrumental music associated with a story, poem, idea, or scene.
Four Types of Program Music
- Program Symphony: A composition for orchestra in four movements, in which each movement has a descriptive title.
- Concert Overture: A one-movement work for orchestra usually in Sonata form.
- Tone Poem: A one-movement work for orchestra usually in forms other than Sonata form (i.e. Rondo, Theme & Variation, etc.)
- Incidental Music: Music to be performed before and during a play.
Not all “orchestral music” was programmatic in nature; instrumental music that has no association with a story, poem, etc.
A single recurring melody used throughout an extended work (i.e. symphony), which represents a person, or an idea.
When composers use rhythms,melodies, or instrumentation which are designed to evoke the atmosphere of far-off lands or ancient times.