The differences and development from medieval to romantic in general, with particular reference to instrumentation

Ever wondered how to tell the difference between the eras in music?

Here is a clear list of characteristics for each era

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  • Created on: 08-06-09 09:49
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The differences and development from medieval to romantic in general, with particular
reference to instrumentation
Medieval Music:
Music uses modes as a basis to the piece.
The texture is usually monophonic with free flowing melodies and no accompaniment.
Polyphonic textures were sometimes used, where they elaborated the plainsong.
They used clashing melodies to form strong dischords.
Many compositions were based on plainsong
The sounds were regularly contrasted, instead of blending, using the distinctive tone
qualities of medieval instruments.
The most common intervals used were unison, 4th, 5th, octave but 3rds and 6ths are noticeable
later on.
Renaissance Music:
Still based on modes, but gradually accidentals started to creep in.
Four or more parts of vocals, therefore having a thicker texture.
The tones were blended, rather than contrasted.
Church music introduced, using contrapuntal, some pieces intended for a Capella.
There were a wide variety of other pieces, as well, dance and instrumental pieces.
The characteristics timbres of renaissance instruments ­ many forming families ( the same
instruments made in various sizes and pitches )
Baroque Music:
Melodies are supported by simple chords to create a homophonic texture, but polyphonic
textures came back into this period.
Basso continuo provides a bass line ­ causes the music to progress steadily from beginning
to end.
Normally one mood continues throughout an entire piece, with little change.
String section of the orchestra became the basis of the baroque orchestra, along with
keyboard continuo filling out the harmonies.
The viols were gradually replaced by the violins gradually.
System of the modes was replaces by major and minor key system at end of 1600s
The main forms used are binary, ternary and rondo.
Main types of music were chorale, recitative, aria, and Italian overture.
Often an exuberance in the music such as energetic rhythms that drive the music.
Classical music:
Tends to be less complicated with a lighter and clearer texture than Baroque.
It is mainly homophonic, meaning a melody is played over a chordal accompaniment.
There is an emphasis on melody and form, proportional balance, moderation and control,
polished and elegant in character with expressiveness and formal structure held in perfect
balance.
More variety and contrast concerning the keys, melodies, rhythms and dynamics.
There are frequent changes of mood and timbre.
Melodies are shorter than baroque, with clearly marked cadences and clear cut phrases.
In the classical period the orchestra increased in size and range
The harpsichord was replaced by the piano
More importance was given to instrumental pieces ­ the main kinds are sonata, trio,
quartet, symphony, concerto, serenade, and divertimento.

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