The medieval, renaissance, baroque, classical and romantic eras were significant periods in the development of different music styles. They were affected by innovations in technology, social influences, political environment, and even historical background. This paper analyses the various effects of these factors on the style of music during these periods.
In the 14th century during the Medieval era reflected the shift in music from sacred in the church to secular in court leading to an emphasis on instrumental performance and music. The polymorphic music of the church merged with the poetic art of troubadours. The musicians during the Medieval period tend to separate instruments into soft and loud where loud is performed outdoor while soft is sung in rooms. During the early Medieval period, the Roman government tried to establish the Roman rite as the central tradition and Centralize liturgies. The music during this time lacked a notational system. They introduced the neumatic texts into the notational system as a method of transmitting chant ideas across extensive distances. They neumes consisted of acutus and gravis, indicating the raising and lowering of the voice, and their combination created graphical inflection of syllable vocals (Lumen, n.d.). The neumes were later found to support oral tradition practice. The nest development was heightened neumes, which indicated the direction intervals.
Innovations accompanied renaissance music because of the patronage beyond the Catholic church. Advancement in technology led to the invention of various musical instruments such as the violin and the harpsichord family (Szalay, 2016). The printing press created an opportunity to disseminate sheet music extensively. The printed form of music created self-sufficiency due to its availability. Music instrument technology developed the viola da gamba which is bowed, fretted string instrument. Modern brass and woodwind instruments such as trombone and bassoon were created, improving the range of sonic power and color. In the sixteenth century, music developed into instrumentals, including variations, fantasia, ricercare, canzona, and contrapuntal dance-inspired compositions. They were both for the ensembles and soloists, creating an independent, distinct and accurate genre having idioms different from vocal practice and forms of dance accompaniment. Composers read classical treaties on music intending to develop music that could influence listeners emotionally (Szalay, 2016). They incorporated dramatic lyric into compositions and recited poetry with music. Relative political prosperity and stability in low countries created a flourishing music education system in the areas where many cathedrals and churches facilitated the training of many composers and singers.
During the Baroque period, the political control of the church in Europe had dwindled. It led to the development of new styles using instruments namely opera, sonata, and concerto. It allowed the flourish of non-religious music primarily instrumental music (Classic FM, n.d.). It developed the grouping together of instruments in a contemporary manner created the first edition of the modern orchestra. Opera motivated the composers to come up with methods of describing the mood in the music, influencing the emotions of the listener, becoming a significant aim in music composition in the era (Classic FM, n.d.). In France, Louis XIV in 1669 converted a hunting lodge at Versailles into a magnificence palace providing a significant influence over the baroque age with elegant opulence. No court could match the Versailles for the gilded interior opulence. It provided an excellent platform for the singers and instrumentalists to perform. The rich social background also enabled the success of baroque music. The social classes in the Medieval age consisted of the peasantry, clergy, and nobility, with peasants being the largest population.
The music in the classical era demonstrated the intellectuals and artistic ideas of the time. The significance of the form was that it provided boundaries and orders. Music was perceived as universal in appeal and beauty, abstract art, and not affected by imperfections and pettiness of ordinary life. Social factors influenced music in the classical period. The middle class led to the melody presented in public. The masses preferred elegant spectacles including ballet, concerto, symphony, and opera. Social dance music was essential in the market but was not involved as concert music. Growth of the middle class and enlighten citizens with equality created the belief that individual enrichment should be by arts and not aristocrats. It is explained when the eighteenth century, the performance of the comic opera was done in theaters. They used spoken dialogue and native tongues with the narration of the ordinary people. They refrained from using a foreign language in private theaters with stories of gods and kings (Frary, 2018).
The middle-class audience undermined the wealthy connoisseur, and the presenters focused on popular taste. The composers gained insights on how to meet the want of the audience on their terms because the needs and tastes of the wealthy patronage did not apply to the middle class. The music business flourished with artists marketing in more prominent avenues with big business in sales of sheet music. Although the rich culture was being undermined, there was a composition of sophisticated and intimate drawing place music in existence, such as chamber music, piano solo and solo song (Frary, 2018). There was an increase in the printed music market entailing amateur shows with guitar and pianos solos, chamber music, and solo songs. The making of home music was considered a status symbol and an essential hobby for the aristocrat and the middle class.
Romanticism entailed dramatic thought with contradictions namely science and faith, emotion and logic, reality and fantasy, oppression and freedom, and socialism and capitalism. During the romantic era, the industrial revolution influenced the change in music. The musicians shift their focus from the rich to the peasants. Marketing of music was done by performers, composers, concert agents and publishers (Frary(b), 2018). Incredible showmanship and dynamic traits were more vital than artistry. Music was perceived as a means of escaping life tribulations, so they created fantastic shows, including virtuosic displays, ballet, and opera, a symphony by known personalities. Social dance ensured an increase in publishing venues for dance music. The romantic composers focused on the unsophisticated public, and they were sensitive to public acceptance and rejection. The romantic composers feel no constraint to the era of the form. They broke the boundaries as an aim shared with political liberator, inventor, and scientists.
There was a significant advancement in mechanical keys and valves, which were used to make brass and woodwinds instruments (Schmidt-Jones, n.d.). The improved instruments played reliably and quickly with better-tuned, fuller and more significant sounds. Tools made with keyboards and strings were dominant in the music of the classical and baroque era, with winds added for color. Progress of the nineteenth century improved wind instruments, and winds were incorporated into an orchestra, with part becoming more critical, engaging, and advanced. Improvements in piano mechanics enable it to overtake harpsichord and become a symbol of romantic music to many people. The rise of the middle class had a direct impact on music (Schmidt-Jones, n.d.). Romantic composers wrote for festivals and public concerts, having numerous audiences of customers that paid. The nineteenth-century brought the first pop star kind to stage personalities.
Conclusively, the social, political and historical background contributed to the style of music at different eras. The advancements in technology created more sophisticated instruments and means of delivery of the performance. The periods played a significant role in developing the tonal systems used today in music.
Classic FM. (n.d.). Baroque. Retrieved from https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/periods-genres/baroque/
Frary, P. K. (2018). Social and Cultural Influences. Music in the Classical Era. Retrieved from https://www.fraryguitar.com/history_pages/Classical01.htm
Frary, P. K. (2018). Dramatic Thought and Action. Music in the Romantic Era. Retrieved from https://www.fraryguitar.com/history_pages/Romantic01.htm
Lumen. (n.d.). Overview of Medieval Music, Music Appreciation. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/musicappreciation_with_theory/chapter/overview-of-medieval-music/
Schmidt-Jones, C. (n.d.). The Music of the Romantic Era. Retrieved from https://cnx.org/contents/[email protected]/The-Music-of-the-Romantic-Era
Szalay, J. (2016, June 29). The Renaissance: The 'Rebirth' of Science & Culture. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/55230-renaissance.html
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Music Across Eras: How Tech, Social, Political, and Hist. Influences Shaped Different Styles - Essay Sample. (2023, Mar 11). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/music-across-eras-how-tech-social-political-and-hist-influences-shaped-different-styles-essay-sample
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