IB Music/Music History/Classical Period

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Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Contrast of mood[edit | edit source]

  1. Contrasting themes in movements
  2. Mood could change suddenly or gradually

Rhythm[edit | edit source]

  1. Flexibility of rhythm
  2. Pauses, syncopation, changes from long to short notes

Texture[edit | edit source]

  1. Basically homophonic
  2. Also intervals of complex polyphony and imitation

Melody[edit | edit source]

  1. Tuneful, easy to remember
  2. Some borrowed from folk or popular music
  3. Balanced, symmetrical

Dynamics and the piano[edit | edit source]

  1. Gradual dynamic change: crescendo and decrescendo
  2. Piano replaced harpsichord because of finger pressure

The end of the basso continuo[edit | edit source]

  1. Gradually abandoned during classical period
  2. music written for amateurs--couldn’t handle figured bass
  3. Wanted more control over accompaniment

The classical orchestra[edit | edit source]

  1. Standard 4 sections: brass, woodwind, strings, percussion
    • 1st violins, 2nd violins, violas, cellos, double basses
    • 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons
    • 2 French horns, 2 trumpets
    • 2 timpani
  2. Trombones in opera and church music
  3. More musicians than a baroque group
  4. Tone color more important
  5. Strings most important
  6. Woodwinds given melodic solos
  7. Brass brought power, harmony, but didn’t play melody
  8. Timpani for rhythmic emphasis

Classical forms[edit | edit source]

  1. Several movements that contrast in tempo and character
    • Fast movement
    • Slow movement
    • Dance-related movement
    • Fast movement
  2. Each movement could have different forms
    • A BA or theme and variations
    • Could have 2, 3, 4 contrasting themes
    • Sections balance each other

Sonata form[edit | edit source]

  1. aka the sonata allegro form
  2. not the same as a sonata (which is a whole composition)
  3. is one movement of a classical symphony (the first and sometimes the last)
  4. there are 3 main sections: Exposition, Development, Recapitulation and sometimes a Coda

Exposition[edit | edit source]

  1. first movement and it is in the tonic key
  2. bridge containing modulation from tonic to new key
  3. second theme presented in new key
  4. closing section in new key
  5. at the end there is a repeat

Development[edit | edit source]

  1. new treatment of themes (can modulate through similar ways as development in a Baroque fugue: augmentation, diminution, inversion, retrograde ect)
  2. modulations to new keys

Recapitulation[edit | edit source]

  1. first theme is in tonic key
  2. bridge
  3. second theme is in tonic key
  4. closing section is in tonic key

Coda[edit | edit source]

  1. in tonic key

Contextual Features[edit | edit source]

The practice of the Classical period would become decisive for the sonata; the term moved from being one of many terms indicating genres or forms, to designating the fundamental form of organization for large-scale works. This evolution stretched over fifty years. The term came to apply both to the structure of individual movements (see Sonata form and History of sonata form) and to the layout of the movements in a multi-movement work. In the transition to the Classical period there were several names given to multimovement works, including divertimento, serenade, and partita, many of which are now regarded effectively as sonatas. The usage of sonata as the standard term for such works began somewhere in the 1770s. Haydn labels his first piano sonata as such in 1771, after which the term divertimento is used very sparingly in his output. The term sonata was increasingly applied to either a work for keyboard alone (see Piano sonata), or for keyboard and one other instrument, often the violin or cello. It was less and less frequently applied to works with more than two instrumentalists; for example piano trios were not often labelled sonata for piano, violin, and cello. Initially the most common layout of movements was: 1. Allegro, which at the time was understood to mean not only a tempo, but also some degree of "working out", or development, of the theme. (See Charles Rosen's The Classical Style, and his Sonata Forms.) 2. A middle movement which was, most frequently, a slow movement: an Andante, an Adagio, or a Largo; or, less frequently, a Minuet or Theme and Variations form. 3. A closing movement, early in the period sometimes a minuet, as in Haydn's first three piano sonatas, but afterwards, generally an Allegro or a Presto, often labelled Finale. The form was often a Rondo.

Theme and variations[edit | edit source]

  1. a basic motif that is repeated again and again that just slightly varies ie. the key, tempo, timbre, duration, ect change
  2. each variation is the same length as the theme

Minuet and trio[edit | edit source]

  1. Minuet is a social dance of French origin for two persons
  2. originated as a dance
  3. it is in 3/4
  4. it is ABA (minuet, trio, minuet)

Rondo[edit | edit source]

  1. main theme called a "refrain"
  2. the number of themes can vary between pieces, and sometimes the recurring element is embellished or shortened in order to provide variation
  3. the refrain alternates with one or more contrasting themes called "episodes", but are occasionally called "digressions" or "couplets"
  4. the form can be seen as ABACA or ABACABA
  5. commonly used in the last movement of the classical symphony

The classical symphony[edit | edit source]

  1. instrumental (orchestra)
  2. 4 movements
    • 1. fast, in a binary form or later sonata form
    • 2. Slow
    • 3. Minuet and trio (later developed into the scherzo and trio), in ternary form and it is 3/4
    • 4. fast, sometimes also in sonata form. Other common possibilities are Rondo form or sonata-rondo

The classical concerto[edit | edit source]

  1. 3 movement work
    • 1. fast (sometimes a cadenza (solo))
    • 2. slow
    • 3. fast

Classical chamber music[edit | edit source]

was for 4-9 instruments

String Quartet[edit | edit source]

  • 4 movements
  • composed for 2 violins and violas and cellos
  1. fast
  2. slow
  3. minuet/ scherzo
  4. fast

Piano trio[edit | edit source]

  • violin
  • cello
  • piano

Joseph Haydn[edit | edit source]

  • know as "father of the symphony" and "father of the string quartet"
  • used the development of larger structures out of short and simple motifs
  • Haydn's musical practice formed the basis of much that was to follow in the development of tonality and musical form.
  • He took genres such as the symphony, and slowly expanded their length, weight and complexity.
  • Haydn's work became central to what was later described as sonata form
  • his music is quite simple and sometimes boring that is how you can differentiate for your exam
  • his surprise symphony greatly influenced Prokofiev in his writing of the "classical symphony"

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart[edit | edit source]

  • incorporated contrapuntal complexities
  • wrote over 600 compositions including that of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music.
  • he was a versatile composer and wrote in almost every major genre, including symphony, opera, the solo concerto, chamber music including string quartet and string quintet, and the piano sonata.
  • While none of these genres were new, the piano concerto was almost single-handedly developed and popularized by Mozart.
  • The central traits of the classical style can all be identified in Mozart's music. Clarity, balance, and transparency are hallmarks, though a simplistic notion
  • for the exam you can recognize him by his music typically sounding very light and playful, with complexities.

Ludwig van Beethoven[edit | edit source]

  • Beethoven was one of the first composers to work freelance
  • he took what was popular and changed it
  • to recognize him his music was very epic sounding with lots of booms
  • his death marked the end of the classical period