Final Exam Assessment: Musical Culture

Paper Type:  Term paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1422 Words
Date:  2021-06-25

The concept of Romanticism as it applies to the musical culture of Europe during the 19th century

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Romanticism period in the history of art, which began in the 18th century and continued in the 19th century. It marked a departure of artists from the restrictions of enlightenment and rationalization of nature in their works (Wood, 2010). The artists strove to emphasize the role of emotion as an important aspect of the artistic experience. The romanticists stressed on different aspects of emotion including horror, awe, and trepidation as ways of giving meaning to the sublimity of nature. The bigger is better mentality was a common trend during this period and resulted in new forms of music including operatic works, tone poem, and large-scale symphonic (Wood, 2010). Different types of instruments such as contrabassoon, bass clarinet and piccolo were introduced into music, which enabled greater and more accurate playing. In this period, superstars comprised of musicians who could dazzle and amaze their audiences during performances.

Comparison of the musical conventions of Italian opera (Rossini, Verdi, or Puccini) with those of German opera (Wagner).

Verdis opera style was dissimilar to that of Wagners. Verdis composed his opera with the singers in mind. Through Verdis opera, it was possible for singers to display their skills such as soaring melodies (Balthazar, 2013). Therefore, this form of musical art revolutionized entertainment that thrilled the audience. Verdis opera had operative scenes that were serious, gloomy, and violent. The German opera were also composed with the adherence to the classic Greek principles, which focused on the unity of music, drama, text, design, and movement. The subject of these musical compositions was the traditional myths and legends of the Germans. Some of these legends and narrative that formed critical components of the German opera include the famous Ride of the Valkyries. Contrary to Verdi, Wagner perceived opera as a form of social ritual where people gather to witness the magnanimity of art without necessarily getting involved in it. Wagner appeared to maintain the full control of his opera (Balthazar, 2013). In essence, he composed, determined the staging and lighting. Furthermore, he created the performance space thus being completely insensitive of the need to involve his singers and audience.

Postmodernism it applies to the musical cultures of Europe and/or the United States during the 20th/21st centuries

Postmodernism marked a new era in human conception characterized by interrogation of what constitutes reality (Khosravishakib, 2012). Post-modern people pursue issues beyond their scientific meanings in this period. They recognized the fact that human understanding of reality is not solely based on how they viewed it. In music, postmodernism influenced both musical condition and style (Khosravishakib, 2012). As a musical style, postmodernism resulted in characteristics of postmodern art including eclecticism in form and genre. The music of this era combines features from various musical genres. Post-modern musicians also employed jump-cut sectionalisation including blocks. The postmodern music transcends the limits of most genres.

Expressionism and its application to the music of the 20th/21st centuries.

Expressionism was primarily a German artistic movement that was characterized by ruthless expression of distasteful emotions. It involved incredible pushing of ideas or treatment of subjects with a particular level of parody. Its primary intent was to dig deep into the depths of the psyche by extending it from one extreme to the other (Crawford & Crawford, 1993). Expressionism was achieved in music in a variety of ways including the use of hyper-expressive harmonies, uniquely high melodious leaps and the use of instruments in the extreme registers (Crawford & Crawford, 1993). The song Hidden Place by Bjork is a typical expressionist song in which she encapsulates the feelings of nostalgic love and act as if she is agony. She actively captures the sublimity of love in a way that the audience can relate the performance and words to remain emotionally attached to the song.

Fusion as It Applies To Jazz

Fusion in jazz is the combination of different styles and genres to produce a new form of music. For instance, the artist can mix some aspects of jazz harmony with other styles including funk and rock (Fellezs, 2011). Despite the fact that each music has its different element that gives it the basis for being classified into respective genres, the elements can be extracted and recombined with jazz music to produce a district piece of music (Fellezs, 2011). For instance, a fusion of rock and jazz, the former genre of music provides power, rhythms, and simplicity to the resultant music. The use of musical instruments familiar with rock music powers the ultimate blend of jazz.

Improvisation as the Central Tenet of the Jazz Aesthetic

Jazz is a musical genre that started among the African Americans living in communities the New Orleans. It is an epitome of freedom not only in song composition but also in the performance (Syad, 2014). Musical improvisation is thus a central aspect in the development and spread of jazz. It involves the freedom of the singer to create unique characters during the performance that were not pre-conceived. Improvisation brings together a performance with communication of emotions and instruments while on stage to produce a unique presentation different from the rehearsed musical versions (Syad, 2014). It is an expression of the vast sense of freedom at work that integrates creativity, involvement, and collaboration with the circumstances under which they perform (audience and space). The song Take Five composed by Paul Desmond has a head that has a recognizable melody at its beginning and in the end. The remaining parts of the song consist of improvised solos in which drums, saxophone or piano play the leading role in improvisation. In the meantime, other instruments drop out or keep time. The song canters around the technique of one measure rhythmic pattern that is present throughout, even behind the improvised solos thus creating an ostinato.

Reggae and its influence on music in the United States

Reggae music that has its roots in Jamaica has a significant influence on the development of rap and hip-hop music in the United States. Toasting also called DJ style, which is elements of reggae spread from Jamaica to New York. The DJ culture from Jamaica coupled with the urban elements formed the basis of the rap music and hip-hop culture of the 1970s (Marshall, 2007). The ties between hip-hop and reggae culture are indicative of common points between them. The first point of similarity between the two cultures is that they emerged from an era of oppression and show sensibility among the urban blacks living in the then ghettos. Second, the two cultures revolt against the establishment. The rap music uses invigorating beats and themes dominated by lust and partying which are closely tied to the Jamaican dancehall, which is a sparse version of reggae (Marshall, 2007). For instance, Kendrick Lamars Blacker the Berry has a boom bap beat with its lyrics celebrating African Americans and rebelling against racism and hypocrisy.

Hip-hop music and its influences on musical culture outside of North America

Hip-hop music originated in the United States and the United Kingdom has substantially influenced the development and performance of music of other genres. One of the musical styles that have infused elements of hip-hop and salsa is rumba (Katz, 2010). Though Rumba originated from Cuba, it has integrated some elements of pop culture including blending both music and dance, vocal and rhythmic improvisation. Just like hip-hop does not have clear-cut in the elements of compositions and performance, rumba embraces a smooth combination of music, poetry, and dance intended to produce a unique performance (Katz, 2010). Some of the key aspects of pop culture that have also been included in rumba include provocative dancing and polyrhythmic drumming. Gloria Estefans song "I'm not giving you up" is a typical rumba-infused with hip-hop. The song has rich harmonies, beats influenced with hip-hop and ethereal lyrics.


Balthazar, S. L. (2013). Historical dictionary of opera. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Crawford, J. C., & Crawford, D. L. (1993). Expressionism in twentieth-century music. Bloomington [u.a.: Indiana Univ. Press.

Fellezs, K. (2011). Birds of fire: Jazz, rock, funk, and the creation of fusion. Durham: Duke University Press.

Katz, M. (2010). Groove music: The art and culture of the hip-hop DJ. Oxford University Press.

Khosravishakib, M. (2012). The Contributions of Postmodernism Methodology as a Prevailing Practice on Ground of Humanities Sciences. International Journal of Arts, 2(1), 1-5.

Marshall, W. G. (2007). Routes, Rap, and Reggae: Hearing the Histories of Hip-Hop And Reggae Together. Ph. D. University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Syad, M. S. (2014). Jazz aesthetic form in Toni Morrison's" Jazz."

Wood, G. D. A. (2010). Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770-1840: Virtue and Virtuosity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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