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Music Outlines

These are two outlines of muisic styles I absolutely love. The outlines express the characteristics of the music.


    Outline of Classical Style taken from essay texts on essayelites.com  
  • Origins
    • The preclassical period is a transition period from baroque style to classical style from 1720 to 1770 and was pioneered by Bach's sons: Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian
    • Style concentrated on simplicity and clarity and broke from polyphonic texture to concentrate on tuneful melody and simple harmony.
    • The term classical refers to the rise of neoclassical art during this time period, but has no link to ancient musical forms.
    • Classical style flourished from 1770 to 1820 with Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven as main contributors.
  • Musical Characteristics
    • Contrast of Mood - Classical music fluctuated in mood, breaking with baroque tradition of concentrating on a single mood. Mood change can be gradual or sudden with contrasting themes in a single movement.
    • Rhythm - Classical music contains many different
    • rhythmic patterns and has unexpected pauses, syncopations, and frequent changes from long to shorter notes. The change of patterns of note lengths may be a sudden or gradual.
    • Texture - The basic texture of classical music is homophonic; however, the texture can shift from homophonic to polyphonic suddenly or smoothly, like with rhythm or mood.
    • Melody - Melodies have a folk or popular quality and may be borrowed from popular tunes. It is common for melodies to have two phrases made up of the same length but the second phrase having a more conclusive ending (a a' style) making it balanced and symmetrical as well as making it easier to sing than baroque music.
    • Dynamics and Piano - Not only used terraced dynamics, but also used crescendo and decrescendo. The harpsichord was replaced by the piano because the loudness or softness of the piano could by varied by how hard the keys were struck.
    • The End of the Basso Continuo - Basso Continuo gradually faded out in favor of composed accompaniment, giving the composer more control over the piece rather than relying on someone's improvisation abilities.
  • The Classical Orchestra
    • The orchestra became a standardized group of four sections: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.
    • More musicians in a group were used in classical music than in baroque music.
    • Classical pieces contain more rapid changes and a larger variety of tone color than in previous music styles, using the tone color of specific instruments at certain periods.
    • Each section of the orchestra had a specific role which was vital to the production of the music.
  • Classical Forms
    • Classical music typically consist of four movements arranged with a fast movement first, then a slow movement, a dance-related movement, and finally a return to a fast movement.
    • A symphony is for an orchestra; a string quartet is for 2 violins, a viola, and a cello; and a sonata is for one or two instruments.
    • Several different forms could be used for each individual movement.
    • Classical music contains many different themes as opposed to the single theme of a baroque piece.
    • Classical music contains balance where unstable sections are confirmed by stable sections in a symmetrical way.
    • While the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven are part of the same classical style, each has their own personal styles.
  • Composer, Patron, and Public in the Classical Period
    • Each of the great men of classical music lived distinct lifestyles.
    • The rise of a middle class brought with it the demand for art and music. Public concerts allowed music to reach commoners and middle class parents hired musicians to teach their children music, the same way aristocrats were taught. Many of the aristocrats were great musicians. Some servants were hired because they were good musicians. A good orchestra was a sign of prestige.
    • Classical music focused on middle-class tastes, such as music that could be easily played by amateurs, comic operas, and folk-like tunes as well as some music that mocked the aristocrats.
    • Some pieces were written specifically for dancing.
    • During this time period, Vienna was the musical hub.


    Outline of Romanticism
  • Overview
    • Romantic period takes place between 1820 and 1900.
    • Many composers contributed to this genre, including Chopin, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner, just to name a few.
    • The emotional expression and songlike melodies of the Romantic music came from the Classical style.
    • It is hard to generalize the characteristics of Romantic music since it varied greatly. Some artists embraced classical traditions while others invented something entirely new.
  • Characteristics of Romantic Music
    • Individuality of Style - Composers expressed their personal feelings and individual taste in their Romanic works.
    • Expressive Aims and Subjects - Romantic music has a closer link to the arts, especially literature, than the previous musical forms. Subjects included feelings of flamboyance and intimacy, unpredictability and melancholy, rapture and longing as well as romantic love, descriptions of nature, and topics of the Middle Ages.
    • Nationalism and Exoticism - Romantic music often contained musical nationalism, that is, music that contained themes that originated within their homeland. It also contained musical exoticism, which focused on things foreign or things remote, picturesque, and mysterious.
    • Program Music - Romantic music also contained a style known as program music, which is a musical piece that describes an idea, a painting, a poem, or a story.
    • Expressive Tone Color - Various tone colors were used like never before to express mood and atmosphere. New instruments were added to the orchestra and older ones were improved, such as the piano, to get a variety of tone color Also, new techniques to make sound were introduced to old instruments.
    • Colorful Harmony - The romantic harmonic vocabulary is broadened by exploring new chords and new ways of playing old chords. Chromatic harmony, which has chords not in the major or minor scales, is used to create feelings of yearning, tension, and mystery. A wider variety of keys is used and determining the tonic key is more difficult.
    • Expanded Range of Dynamics, Pitch, and Tempo - Romantic music contains greater ranges of tone color, dynamics, and pitch than Classical music such as frequent crescendos and decrescendos, sudden dynamic changes, extremely high or low pitches, accelerando and ritardandos, and rubato.
    • Forms: Miniature and Monumental - Romantic pieces ranged in size from just a few minutes to forty-five minutes, nearly doubling the size of a classical symphony. New techniques unified the long works, such as using a recurring theme, thematic transformation, and transitional passages.
  • Romantic Composers and Their Public
    • Romantics favored the “free artist” path, which entitled a romantic composer to compose whatever he wanted and work at his own pace rather than be commissioned by a certain individual or group. However, sometimes the romantic became a “free artist” not by favor, but by necessity because of the political and economical state of the world at the time. Some aristocrats were unable to afford private composes and the rising middle-class opened a new market for the musicians and composers.
    • Because of the wider availability of pianos and in many middle-class homes, music was composed for private purposes. Older works were rewritten to be played on the piano.
    • Composers came from different walks of life and not necessarily from a family with a musical craft tradition.
    • Often times composers did not make a living off composing alone and were forced to take other jobs like teaching, criticizing musical works, and conducting for money.

Copyright 2007 All rights reserved. Reproduction without the written permission of the publisher is forbidden. All essays and articles are written by Jarred James Breaux unless stated otherwise. The mention of or reference to any person, company, or written material in these pages is not a challenge to the trademark or copyright concerned.