Classical Music Challenge – A little history…

While its been great fun listening away without any structure; it might just be time for a bit of light reading in the subject of classical music.
The term ‘classical music’ is a relatively modern one, first used in the 19th century. Originally the phrase was used in an effort to canonise the period from Bach to Beethoven as a ‘golden age’. However, it now encompasses a Western musical tradition from roughly the 11th century to present day.
Evolving out of liturgical and secular forms, classical music encompasses such a wide variety of styles and characteristics that definition becomes a difficult, if not an impossible task.
Since the 16th century, this form of music has been marked by its use of ‘staff notations’ – allowing for instructions regarding speed, pitch, meter, rhythms and executions – an effort to exact repetition, restricting or removing room for improvisational.
Thought this isn’t an exclusively western form of notation, it is worth noting that outside of the Western Classical Music tradition, there are other styles, notations and ‘rules’.
There are three distinct time periods within classical music, which each break up into three further eras:
– Medieval (500-1400) – mostly sung and organised by Monks
– Renaissance (1400-1600) – more tones; more upbeat IMO
– Baroque (1600-1760) – grand and ornate
Common Practice
– Baroque (1600-1760) – Ornamental; rhythmic
– Classical (1750-1830) – Structured; elegant; poetic; emotive
– Romantic (1815-1910) – Highly emotive; rich harmonies; rubato (flexible rhythmic interpretation)
Modern & Contemporary – more emphasis on dissonance
– 20th Century (1900-2000)
– Contemporary (1975-…)
– 21st Century (2000-…)
¬†Within my challenge, I’ve included at least one piece from each time frame. Though I haven’t specifically sought out a gender balance (in part because I think doing a challenge based on female composers and musicians is a project in its own right), I have tried to represent them across the varying time frames. I have this whole excel spreadsheet and everything.

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