Timothy's Blog

Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!
OCT
23

Classical music V b: Handel and Bach!

I don’t think it can get better than this.

The apex of the Baroque period expressed itself in two German composers who are rightly wildly popular to this day, George Frederick Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach.

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OCT
10

Classical music V a: Early Baroque and the Italians

As the Renaissance progressed, there was a trend in music to make it less 'absolute' --- structured less on a basis of carefully defined forms and developments regardless of a text's message, and more on a basis of bringing out that message through the music.  Music was becoming more experiential: the player and listener could directly feel what was meant as it was being sung or played about.

This opened the door for experimentation with more expressive forms; the Italians such as Monteverdi were the most influential in this historic shift, and according to some scholars all 'serious' music since that time has been an outgrowth of the Italians' ideas of that period.

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OCT
09

Classical music IV b: The Elizabethan period

The Elizabethan era, named for one of the most notable Tudor monarchs in England, has enough distinctives for us to consider it separately from the Renaissance on the Continent.

The lute and viol (often in ensembles called ‘consorts’) were prominent instruments; and a particular style of madrigal was developed. John Dowland wrote a large number of lute solo masterpieces; one of the most famous is included below.

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SEP
23

Classical Music IV a: Renaissance on the Continent and in the church

The Renaissance (French for ‘Rebirth’) in the West brought new developments in polyphonic music --- an extension of the multi-lined melodic experimentation that had been done in the late Middle Ages by such people as Hildegarde, De Machaut, and Dufay.

One notable element in ancient music from prehistoric times on through the Medieval, by the way, was improvisation: It was normal practice for a performer to come up with a newly composed work on the spot, within expected structural parameters such as chosen modes and matching music with texts. This improvisation did continue on into later periods --- for example, Bach was a famous improviser, and players of Romantic concertos made up their own cadenzas --- but as a central practice it waned somewhat in the Renaissance, as composition became more static and complex as written on the page.

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SEP
18

Classical Music History III: The Medieval times

The Middle Ages of Europe is often said to have extended from about 500 to 1400 a.d. During that period there was a great deal of monophonic (one note at a time) chant, monophonic melody over a drone, and rhythmic monophonic dance music; then in the later centuries the stark harmonic parallel concept of organum was introduced and some limited polyphonic movement (more than one melodic part, overlapping in non-synchronized phrases).

Pope Gregory the Great introduced the pure, formulaic, clean-sounding Gregorian Chant; Hildegarde von Bingen was a highly creative mystic over several disciplines including music.

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SEP
17

Classical music history II: the Byzantine era

The Byzantine Empire produced a kind of music that is still alive today in the liturgies of Orthodox Churches of various kinds, and from that same time there are also ancient Jewish kinds of music that continue in our time. Here are links to Youtube audio of a few samples of this essentially monophonic, chant-like form of the art:

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125 Hits
SEP
10

Classical Music History I: Ancient Greece

For a high school (‘Rhetoric’) class at the school where I teach, I’m putting together a master list and a series of blog posts with some comments about different periods in the history of Western Classical music; I plan to have these postings span over about three months and be finished by December of this year.

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