Music encompasses culture, art, emotion, and ideology. As society evolves, so does the style and sound of the music, and what emerges is a diverse tapestry that represents the time period in which the music was created as well as the people who created it. Here’s a glance back at some of the most fascinating periods in music history, and how they influenced the music of today.
Medieval (approx. 400-1400)
Music at this time was heavily influenced by the growing power the Church began to wield, and notation was reintroduced into the musical repertory, a major distinction from earlier songs. Unfortunately, much of the music of this time was destroyed. We do have several medieval liturgical pieces from Roman Catholic Church. The Gregorian Chant is one of the most famous pieces from this era.Renaissance (approx. 1400-1600)
Renaissance (approx. 1400-1600)
The Renaissance era of music introduced a clearer, more voice-centric melody. These songs joined balanced polyphony, and created pieces that people could sing with ease. Chords became more flexible, making pieces easy to adapt according to the style of the artist. Finally, the advent of the printing press made the most significant contribution of all, giving artists and people who were just beginning to learn music new resources to expand their talents and passions.
Fun fact: John Taylor, an ocular surgeon, botched up the vision of two giant composers, Bach and Handel. Despite this ocular error, both were still musical visionaries!
Baroque (approx. 1600-1700)
The Baroque period ushered in a surge of instrumental musical revelry, and secular music became more prevalent than ever before. Counterpoint (the use independent, polyphonic melodies) was a strong influencer on the music of this era, giving pieces a richer flavor. Composers also introduced improvisation into their design, and the bass and keyboard allowed for the expansion of possibilities to stretch across all keys.
Fun fact: Mozart created some of his most outstanding work on the fly…and hungover!
Classical (approx. 1700-1810s)
Harmony really defines the Classical era (aka Western Art Era). Composers brought components together in harmony, creating distinct chords with a melody and accompaniment. Some unforgettable pieces emerged during this era that aren’t comparable with anything that came prior, like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, for example. Mozart was notably one of the most influential composers of the time, along with Beethoven and Richter.
Fun fact: Beethoven would count out the beans before having a cup of coffee each day.
Romantic (approx. 1810s-1900)
As you can imagine, the Romantic period brought an increase of emotion and meaning into the musical art form. From Schumann to Chopin to Wagner, compositions became ever-more complex, as is symbolized by some dramatic pieces like Siegfried by Wagner.
20th Century (approx. 1900-2000)
Once the radio was invented, music as we know it changed forever. Other technologies such as recording and reproduction devices, not to mention the television and music videos also influenced the era, bringing music to the masses. With these revolutionary advancements permeating the culture, music flavor, tempo, and form also dramatically transformed and evolved. This is evident by the fact that every decade of the 20th century ushered in a new sound and a new hunger for something different.
Here’s a fabulous medley of the last century in music:
Music existed since the dawn of time, and it will continue to enrich the lives of humanity forever. Join centuries of musical history by learning to play piano today, and make your own mark on the sands of time.