Music Of Early Times 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 doesnt 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, thats 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 “composers 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 composers 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; the …