Classical Music



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Explore the timeless magnificence of classical music

The term “Classical Music” can actually refer to two different things. In general, the term is used to describe art music produced or rooted in the western musical traditions of Europe, that is considered “heavy” as opposed to the lighter sounds of jazz or pop. The term can also refer to a specific period in the development of music, called the Classical Era. Here's a brief overview of the various periods of music that typically fall into what people refer to as classical music to help you on your journey to discover which classical music will best suit your tastes.

Religious music of the Middle Ages

During Medieval times (around 400 -1400 A.D.), music was typically religious in nature, with early Christian music evolving from chanting used in synagogues to a more “plainchant” or Gregorian Chant, which became the traditional music of the Western Church. This Monophonic music (or "single note" ) consisted solely of the melody, with no accompaniment. At the time, there was no standardized or accepted written system to denote such things as the pitch or the length of a note, so scoring music was difficult. That’s when the Church decided to address the need for musical unification with the development of the musical notation still used today by musicians around the world.

Here comes the harmony

During the Renaissance Music Period (around 1400 1600 A.D.), Polyphony (two or more musical voices) became more popular. This era was characterized by greater use of instrumentation, multiple interweaving melodic lines, and the use of the first bass instruments. It is in this era that musical notation finally starts to really take shape as transmission of songs goes from an oral tradition to a written one. The very first Opera was written during the Renaissance Music era.

Going for Baroque

The word "Baroque" means extravagant or complex, especially ornamental. This era was characterized by more complex harmonies, as well as lots of powdered wigs, lace and fancy coats. Simple harmonies were replaced by two or three melodies played at the same time, as well as frequent harmonic changes. New forms of music, such as toccatas and fugues, suites, preludes, theme and variations, also began to flourish. The keyboard became popular, with music being specifically written for the harpsichord, clavichord and organ, and the concerto emerging as a major influential musical form. Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons is a prime and well-known example of a concerto from the baroque period.

The Classical Period

The Classical Era (1750 to 1820 A.D.) is when music really became something the mainstream society wanted to hear, with more concerts, performances and public music experiences around than ever before. New musical forms of this period included minuets, rondos, and sonatas. This was the era of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Bach. Opera continued to develop and gain in popularity, and thanks to the aforementioned composers, the symphony rose as a major musical form.

A little romance

The Romantic Period (1820 – 1900 A.D.) differed from the Classical Era through more expressive and free-form, rather than refined, compositions. Previous conventions regarding length, number of movements and instrumentation were abandoned in favour of more experimental forms like etudes, variations, nocturnes and character pieces. The piano figured heavily in these compositions.

Modern classical music

Today, many of the formerly strict rules of classical music have been relaxed, and instrumentation has continued to evolve to include such things as the acoustic guitar (once associated with folk, country or more pop music), banjos, bagpipes and more. The harmony of modern classical music is also different than in previous eras and is characterized by increased dissonance and use of chromatic, pentatonic and modal scales.