Category Archives: Music History

Different Eras of Classical Music

Classical music was first mentioned in the renaissance period which went from the 1400’s to the 1600’s. Some of the trademarks of the start of classical music were a greater use of instrumentation, more interweaving melodies, and the use of the first bass instruments. During this time, the staff and other elements of musical notation were starting to take shape. The typical instruments were a little different. The most common string instruments were the harp, the lute, and the vielle. For wind instruments, there were the flute, trumpet and bagpipes. Simple organs existed, but strictly in churches. Later in the time, some versions of the keyboard just began to come into the equation.
The baroque period went from the 1600’s up until the mid 1700’s and was characterized by a continuous bass line, as well as advanced tonal counterpoint, which is the relationship between the voices that are harmonically interdependent, but that are independent with rhythm and contour. More advanced musical concepts came into play, like major and minor, and the sonata form. The most famous composers from the era include Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, among many others. Throughout the era, organ music became increasingly bigger, as well as the violin and stringed instrument family. Now with the variety of instruments that took shape, the full orchestra as well as the chamber orchestra were formed. The concerto was created, making a great vessel for solo performing,although the solo performers relationship with the orchestrates quite simpler.
The classical period dates from 1750-1820, creating many of the norms and styles of the music. Piano grew to be the most popular keyboard instrument, and chamber music became very big. The violin became the lead instrument carting the melody, replacing the harpsichord. Wind instruments became more refined, and double reeded instruments, oboe and bassoon, became more standardized. Single reeded instruments were not widely used until the classical era, where they became quite popular. The main composers of the era included Mozart, Haydn, and early Beethoven. The classical style was light and simple, creating an exposed feeling which left no room for mistakes.
The romantic era went from the early 19th century, to the middle of the 20th century, characterized by an increased attention to an extended melodic line, as well as more emotion and feeling. Musical forms began to differ from the classical era forms, with three formed pieces, such as preludes and nocturnes. The music became more chromatic, dissonant, and finally colorful, with key signatures starting to be recognized. The composers of the era were Chopin, Dvorak, Liszt, and many others. A wider range of instruments were beginning to be used, such as percussion and stringed instruments with a larger range. The brass family took a large roll.