Though classical music, known for its severe adherence to musical rules, is not the most common genre these days, and some people may feel it is a bit boring, it is recognized as one of the most inspiring. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Haydn and innumerable other composers contributed to the huge musical treasury that still charm the world’s attention until the present day. The timeline of music can be divided into three main periods: early music, common-practice period, and the 20th and 21st centuries. Specifically, the common-practice period—including baroque, classical, and romantic era—plays a crucial role in forming and developing music today.
The growing power of the Church strongly shaped music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Most vocal music, Gregorian Chant, and the ordinary of Mass were sung by clergy, and heard by the congregation for worship purposes. Besides, there was also instrumental music sung at courts and troubadours for dancing and entertainment. Later, various genres, such as symphonies, string quartets, and concertos, and different instruments were introduced to supplement color and texture to music. In 1460, Gutenberg invented the printing press, and non-clergy started to compose music, so music was distributed on a larger geographic scale and to more audiences than prior. No matter how many changes and innovations music has experienced, music of these eras still proves its power and is actually long from dead because we can easily catch them when attending masses at church today.
The rhythm in the Baroque period was exciting and driving with bass creating strong, regular beat. At the same time, instrumental colors dominated, fudge and polyphonic texture reigned supreme. Music of this era had a prominent influence on contemporary music–notably, the rock genre imitates the original intensity and complexity. For instance, Lady Gaga has adopted Baroque themes into many of her songs. An article from Cleveland.com asserted, “modern musicians definitely have an ear for ‘old’ composers, whether it is with song structure or content” (Wilson). J. S. Bach, one of the most eminent composers, wrote the piece Prelude and Fugue Number 20 in A Minor—a composition that merged his classical style with a more new approach, which was later supposed the first Jazz song.
The Classical era is considered as the “golden age of music,” and the “symphony,” “concerto,” and “sonata were born at that time. The middle class began to watch performances in public concert halls and opera halls. Classical music left a precious legacy to today’s music, the chorus—the short melody repeated throughout the song. Most songs we listen to today include a chorus, which is the distinctive part that audiences remember the most. Mozart tried to simplify by creating a four-chord melody, similar to that of modern pop and rock music. Moreover, Mozart was the representative composer to be a “freelancer”–not bind to a particular court or patron, which raised much inspiration on modern composers. Schubert’s creation of the three minutes, verse-chorus based song, and hundreds of other pieces contributed to perfect the design of music. Now we can enjoy many beautiful short melodic songs.
Beethoven’s works were more elaborate, stretched harmonies, and added emotions. For this reason, Beethoven is referred to a ‘transitional’ composer, a bridge between the Classical period and the Romantic Period. He had shown how personal expression might push against and break free from the confines of Classical form. He had expanded the size of the orchestra by adding more new instruments and had lengthened the symphony. He had given music “the grand gesture,” stunning effects like the crashing introduction of the “Pathétique” Sonata and the gigantic crescendo leading to the finale of the Symphony No. 5. Furthermore, he had shown that pure sound—sound divorced from melody and rhythm—could be glorious in and of itself. The power and originality of his works became the standard for later composers.
The Romantic era is known for its intense energy and passion because it focused on the expression of emotion of love, hate or even death, often revealing their innermost thoughts and feelings no matter what imbalance in content or form might occur. The songs were likely to tell a story or express an idea and the expanded on the use of various instruments including wind instruments. Instruments that were invented or improved upon during this time included the flute and the saxophone. Melodies became fuller and more dramatic as Romantics believed in allowing their imagination and intense emotion to soar through their works. By the mid-19th-century, folk music became popular among the Romantics, and more emphasis was put on nationalist themes.
There are many other proofs for classical music, leaving its mark in history and impacting today music. Both playing or listening to music can be a great stress reliever. As well, once you are able to play a piece or song after a while, music gives you a sense of accomplishment and can boost your overall confidence. Also, playing music especially at high levels music can increase one’s creativity. Since music education stimulates your emotional and cognitive abilities, it can allow our brain to think in new and different ways. Though many believe classical music is a dying art form, its longevity allows for it to remain relevant in today’s society and in ones to come.