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Music And Changes In Time Essay, Research Paper

Early music is based mainly on the music of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras. Many people like to define Early Music as ending in 1750, with the death of J.S. Bach. This is a handy date, but it misses the various stylistic changes taking place around that time, i.e. the emergence of the gallant and pre-classical idioms in close proximity to the final flowering of the baroque proper. To add even more confusion, this is also not clear-cut. As with everything else, Baroque music ended gradually and sporadically, if we are to say that it ended all.Perhaps the significant factor defining these eras as early music is that they do not have a continuous performance tradition. In other words, this music ceased to be performed after its time had passed and needed to be revived in our own era. This is not true of the classical music of Mozart, Beethoven, et al. Which possesses a continuous performance tradition. This means that, to some degree, it is this revival which dominates EM (that is, early music as a movement), at least in spirit.Of course, things are not clear-cut here either. For instance, late Baroque composers like Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and etc. Were revived relatively early and therefore have a fairly long performance tradition which is not dependent on the present early music movement. Now we are seeing an increasingly large number of performances of Mozart, Beethoven, and others in the content of early music; this further muddies the waters.There is the question of pre-Medieval music. While early musicians would undoubtedly be happy to claim it as their own, unfortunately there is very little surviving evidence about music from earlier times. Indeed, there are no music manuscripts from Western Europe at all. However, that doesn t stop some people from trying to recreate what might have been heard.Since music has also been a performance tradition, classical concerts represent divergences from that tradition, based upon a new look at the original context of a composition. New composers sometimes talk about capturing the original intentions of an early composer. Although like any essentially psychological object, these intentions can never be thoroughly concrete. As such, that decision rests largely with the artistic intuition of the modern performer, and should be judged on their own musical merits. Occurring mainly because society today likes the different sound.In the case of pre-Baroque music, there are really little choices but to attempt to recreate the sound world of the era, in order to even approach the surviving compositions. Of course, that s what many early music performers are doing, and they are consequently reviving a vast body of superlative music, which had previously been effectively last to us. This is, probably, the core of early music. Music today has been influenced much by early music. From a broader perspective, it is also a thoroughly modern idea that the composer s intentions should matter more than what a performer chooses to do with the music in front of the composer. In fact, it has been somewhat facetiously suggested that such an approach is not the composer s intention at all. Music is played very different, because people interpret things differently, which is why music has changed so much over time.Early music was the start of a great change in sounds. In the beginning, with early music we can tell that the ideas were mainly from the composer. Over time, people realized that they can interpret music in many different ways also. This was the first movement into new music, and I believe that early music will be played for well past my lifetime. We live in a time of great changes, a time of transformation between major eras. Looking into the unsettling, the unfamiliar, the senselessness of a world taking a dramatic turn towards the unknown, people get lost and confused. Their fear, their need for survival even, urges them to look inside for something big, something dramatic, something inspiring, something that gives them courage to face the unknown and the strength to shape it. (Ewen, David, pg.40)Along with a great change, there was Jazz. The start of the first real American music. With the culture change from Early, classical music. Many things changed during this time, but mainly was do to the changing in culture that influenced jazz.Some of the most accomplished musicians of our time have devoted themselves to a lifelong study of Jazz or classical music, and few exceptional musicians have actually mastered both. A comparison of classical Jazz music will yield some interesting results and could also lead to an appreciation of the abilities needed to perform or compose there kinds of music.The music called classical, found in stores and performed regularly by symphonies around the world, spans a length of time from 1600 up to the present. This time frame includes the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and contemporary periods. The classical period of music actually spans a time from of 1750 to 1800; thus, the term Classical is a misnomer and could more correctly be changed to Early Music or European Art Music. European because most of the major composers up till the 20th century were European. Vivaldi was Italian, Bach was German, Mozart and Beethoven were Austrian; they are some of the more prominent composers. Until the twentieth century with Gershwin and a few others did we find American composers writing this kind of art music. For the sake of convention, we can refer to Early Music as Classical music.Jazz is a distinctively American form of music, and its history occupies a much smaller span of time. Its origins are found in the early 1900s as some dance band leaders in the southern U.S. began playing music that combined ragtime and blues. Early exponents of this dance music were Jelly Roll Martin (a blues player) and Scott Joplin (ragtime). The terms of jazz and jazz band first surfaced in the year 1900. Some say this occurred in New Orleans, although similar music was played at the same time in other places. The most prominent exponents of this early music, called Dixieland Jazz, included Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet. After World War I, Jazz music had evolved and was aided by the development of the recording industry. The small dance band ensemble grew into the larger orchestra known as the Big Band. The music of the Big Bands became known as Swing. Two of the more famous Swing band leaders were Tommy Dorsey and Harry James. In the late 40s and through the 50s, a different kind of Jazz became popular. This music, played by a very small ensemble, was much more sophisticated and complex . Its rich harmonic changes and melodic counterpoint were not conducive to dance. It became known as “Bop,” with Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie being the early proponents. In the last twenty years there has been a combination of Jazz with popular music of the US and Latin America. This modern Jazz music has been called “Fusion.” Present day exponents include Pat Metheny and Chic Corea. There has also been a return to the sound of Bop in the last ten years by such musicians as trumpeter Winton Marsalis and his brother Branford, a saxophonist. Let’s focus on the instrumentation of the two kinds of music. In Classical music, both large orchestras and small ensembles are used. Generally, the greatest and most prominent compositions are for the larger symphony orchestra. The largest part of the orchestra is the string section consisting of violins, violas, cellos and string basses. These instruments were invented very early in medieval times but really matured into their present form during the late 18th century. The wind instruments, comprised of brass and woodwinds, took longer to mature. The brass section in particular did not posses the ability to play chromatically (in all keys) until the advent of valves which allowed the length of the instrument to be changed while playing. This occurred around the middle to late 19th century. Consequently, the brass instruments are less prominent in the music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven along with their contemporaries. Late 19th and early 20th century composers make use of a very large orchestra with all the fully developed wind instruments. Some of the master composers of this time were: Wagner, Rimskey-Korsakov, Ravel and Stravinsky. Currently, composers also make use of the full orchestra but with the addition of increasingly larger percussion sections that add many unique and unheard of sounds than in earlier music. While all these changes were happening, many other situations changed the aspect of music to the tragedy around them. World War II also influenced song, about Love and happiness, which was a major start in rock music, which will be brought up later. Early Jazz music was played in small ensembles making use of clarinet, tuba, cornet, baritone, drums, and piano. Dixieland groups of New Orleans had similar instrumentation. During the Swing era, larger groups were employed to achieve more of an orchestral sound. The Big Bands of the this era were predominantly wind orchestras containing alto and tenor sax sections, trumpet and trombone sections, along with piano and drums. When Bop music arrived, the alto saxophone and trumpet were the preferred instruments of the major soloists who were backed up by piano, string bass and drums. With the advent of Fusion, electric instruments such as the electric guitar and keyboard synthesizer became prominent. How has each of these kinds of music been transmitted to later generations of musicians? Early in the evolution of classical music, a system of notation was gradually developed which for the most part remained stable from the Renaissance on. This gave the composer control over how his compositions were to be played. Throughout the history of Jazz, however, notation was more like a rough sketch. This was because the syncopated rhythms of ragtime and the melodic riffs of the blues were not easily notated. Also, early Jazz musicians were not formally trained; they usually learned by ear. Some songs were transcribed and written down, but not in precise ways. Jazz music became more of a passed on tradition that a musician learned through interaction with other players. In a similar way, the modern Jazz musician must rely on previous recordings to get a feel for the style and technique that he desires to learn from. But in classical music, one composer can learn from an older composer by looking at and analyzing the music that the previous composer wrote down. Likewise, classical musicians can master the parts they must play by practicing the music that has been written or published beforehand. These two approaches to passing on tradition are both valid. However, without the recording medium Jazz music might have developed much differently than it has.

The major element that keeps a musical group together is also an interesting contrast. In Classical music, the conductor uses a baton and plays the orchestra as if it were his instrument; he looks at a complete score of all the events happening in the composition and interprets these events based on his knowledge and intuition of what the composer intended. Jazz groups rarely utilize conductors. The swing era employed them for the sake of keeping the larger sized group together but other jazz styles did not and do not to this day. The drummer of the Jazz ensemble provides the beat that keeps the group together but even he is interacting with the other soloists as the song is performed. Perhaps the most interesting point of comparison between the two types of music is in improvisation. Improvisation is the ability to play and compose spontaneously “on the spot” (Christy Max) while the music is playing. This has been an important element of Jazz from its inception. Although improvisation was less prominent during the swing era, it regained importance with Bop and onward. Early Jazz was improvised, using ragtime and blues as a loose structure. In the swing era, an arranger arranged popular songs and soloists played improvisations over the repeating sections in order to lengthen the song for dancing. With the advent of Bop, improvisation assumed great importance. The musicians memorized the chord changes to a song, along with the melody, but then played very loosely and in the end substituted new chords along with greatly embellishing the original melody to the point of being unrecognizable. These factors, along with the ability to interact with each other, became important and remains so in the Fusion music of today. In Classical music, modern listeners are mostly unaware of the fact that many of the great composers of the past were not only excellent performers but also great improvisers. Starting with J.S. Bach (1685-1750), the greatest composer of the Baroque era, he in fact made his living through his great skill as an improviser. It was common for the Lutheran Church organist of his day be able to improvise on choral melodies and Bach was considered one of the greatest at this. There are written accounts of other composers improvisational abilities including Mozart (1756-1791), Beethoven (1770-1829), and Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Yet, as time went on, improvising gave way to the composer’s desire to exert complete control over his music. By the late 19th century, improvising was rare and not used at all in public performances of classical music. We can say that Jazz and Classical music represent two approaches to Art Music. The Classical composer or performer has a long and rich body of music in written form that he uses to learn from while the Jazz musician uses a body of recorded music to learn. Because of it’s small size, the modern Jazz ensemble allows loose interaction while the symphony orchestra’s large size and diversity of instruments provides many different sounds and wide dynamic range. In classical music the composer strives for control; he uses printed music to guide and direct the musicians through the conductor. In Jazz music, the songs are loosely composed, thus forming a basis for individual expression within an ensemble, which is growing in our society. When you go to hear a symphony, you hear an orchestra conducted by the conductor playing a composition. When you go to a Jazz club you hear a small jazz ensemble interacting and improvising a song. They take different paths to reach their final form but give a person equal opportunities to appreciate the creative output of each. Along with new ideas and changes in music, rock bands were the new way to protest against society. Among all of the rock groups, one will be remembered for their voices and the songs of power that was a revolution in the changing of music. The Beatles were very in tune with the world around them and were greatly influenced by many ideas, cultures, and religions. In turn, their innovations and music influenced the world, even today. Early in their career, The Beatles were strongly influenced by American music. They especially idolized artists such as Bill Haley ( Rock Around the Clock Tonite ), Buddy Holly ( Peggy Sue ), and many Rhythm and Blues artists such as Willie Dixon. It s clear in The Beatles evolution that these roots were a strong influence on the music that The Beatles created. With this combination of styles and origins, the music that The Beatles played and composed was a revolution in itself, something that hadn t been thought of before. Some precise examples of these earth-shattering compositions are the #1 hit Please, Please, Me , and also a #1 hit She Loves You . These early Beatles tunes were instrumental in crafting their own musical style. As The Beatles matured, they began to be more perceptive to events all throughout the world and their tremendous popularity was growing day by day. The exponential growth rate of fans was so large that The Beatles were the first rock group permitted to play in, not to mention sell out the London Palladium, a grand achievement. The Palladium, until then, was a very exclusive and elegant concert hall usually reserved for the likes of the London Symphony Orchestra. Although selling out the Palladium was quite a feat, the 15 million viewers that watched the concert on the BBC was an even greater one. This was the first time in England that a rock group had established so much credibility that The Beatles were invited to play at a Royal Command Performance for the Queen. The influences of traditional British society, although already evident in their choice of attire, began to permeate their music. For example, Yesterday began as a heavy rock tune, but the poetic influences of Brits such as William Shakespeare turned it into the love ballad it is today. Another good example of the London influence on The Beatles in Yesterday is the string quartet from the London Symphony Orchestra that plays the melody. This was indicative of the influence that The Beatles had on the English music, social, and political scenes, as well as the ways in which traditional English society influenced The Beatles. 1966 began a new Beatles trend full of psychedelic drugs. Their recent release of Revolver marked the beginning of this new trend. Revolver was strongly influenced by American Professor Timothy Leary. Leary was an exceptional influence on The Beatles, especially John Lennon. Dr. Leary popularized the hallucinogen LSD, and was a major American proponent of peace and free will. Interestingly enough, when Timothy Leary decided that he was going to run for governor of California, in order to have the influence needed to truly make peace in the world, John wrote Come Together for Leary s campaign. Leary also sang Give Peace A Chance with John and Yoko Ono. The strong drug influences are evident particularly in Strawberry Fields Forever (written by John Lennon), in phrases such as Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about and Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see. These key phrases are obvious descriptions of their recent experimentation with LSD. Songs describing John s trips are great in number on the Magical Mystery Tour album that was released in 1967. Examples of these are Penny Lane and I Am the Walrus . Penny Lane deals with John s interpretation of a trip while crossing Penny Lane, and while in the park on Penny Lane. I Am the Walrus is one of the first true examples of Paul s drug use and identifies with his fantasy of being a walrus. Drugs had a strong influence on The Beatles, and their musical interpretations caused by drugs helped to influence drug culture in the world, not just among their fans, but among many youths. Another Beatles innovation was the utilization of Indian instruments in their music. They began to implement use of the sitar and tabla in many songs, especially on the White Album, which was released in 1968, a year coinciding with a Beatles visit to India. Cultures and people influenced these changes in music. I chose to expand on the Beatles because they are the absolute best example of how rock music is different than Classical, but they were just due to changes in time. Meditation and finding oneself also became an important part of Beatles life. This Hindu and Buddhist ritual appealed to the band because it helped them to write better songs. This led to the downfall of The Beatles as they began to argue over songs and styles; their excursions within themselves had backfired and turned them against each other. The Beatles were the most influential rock group in all of history, but they couldn t have had such a great effect on the world without their many inspirations. They seemed to take the best of different cultures and combine them in their music to create a diverse and interesting sound. Without The Beatles, the world would be a much different place today. Over time we can tell that music changed for many reasons. I am sure that there are many other groups, other than the examples above that influenced the change in music. From Early music, to Modern Rock and Jazz there is a major difference in the sound, but it is still influenced by classical music.


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