how music through the aeons has been labelled;
though 14th Centuries - Medieval
15th Century - Early Renaissance
16th Century - High Renaissance
Late 16th and 17th Centuries - Early Baroque
Late 17th and Early 18th Centuries - High Baroque
Late 18th Century - Classical/Romantic
Early 19th Century - Romantic
Late 19th Century - Romantic/Modern
20th Century - contemporary or modern
(mostly for norms benefit and to remind him what they actually mean, i've listed some common definitions of musical terms below:)
what is ... ?
concerto v symphony
contrapuntal (or counterpoint)
opera v oratorio
pian' e forte
polyphony et al
sacred (religious) music
staff (or stave)
cantata - (literally 'sung', derived from
the Italian word 'cantare') is a vocal composition with an instrumental
accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir.
The meaning of the term changed over time, from the simple single voice madrigal of the early 17th century, to the multi-voice 'cantata da camera' and the 'cantata da chiesa' of the later part of that century, from the more substantial dramatic forms of the 18th century (including the 200-odd church and secular cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach) to the usually sacred-texted 19th-century cantata, which was effectively a type of short oratorio.
classical music - is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions
of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from
roughly the 11th century to present times. The central norms of this tradition
became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice
European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century. Western staff notation is used by composers to prescribe to the performer the pitch, speed, meter, individual rhythms and exact execution of a piece of music. This leaves less room for practices such as improvisation and ad libitum ornamentation, that are frequently heard in non-European art music (as in Indian classical music and Japanese traditional music) and popular music.
The term classical music did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to canonize the period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Beethoven as a golden age. The earliest reference to classical music recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is from about 1836.
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- is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral
musical compositions. The earliest motets arose, in the thirteenth century, out
of the organum tradition exemplified in the Notre Dame school of Léonin and
Pérotin. The motet probably arose from clausula sections, usually strophic
interludes, in a longer sequence of organum, to which upper voices were
added. Usually the clausula represented a strophic sequence in Latin which
was sung as a discant over a cantus firmus, which typically was a plainchant
fragment with different words from the discant. The motet took a definite rhythm
from the words of the verse, and as such appeared as a brief rhythmic interlude
in the middle of the longer, more chantlike organum.
The practice of discant over a cantus firmus marked the beginnings of counterpoint in Western music. From these first motets arose a medieval tradition of secular motets. These were two or three part compositions in which several different texts, sometimes in different vernacular languages, were sung simultaneously over a Latin cantus firmus that once again was usually adapted from a passage of Gregorian chant. It is suspected that, for the sake of intelligibility, in performance the cantus firmus and one or another of the vocal lines were performed on instruments. Among the trouvères, Robert de Reins La Chievre and Richart de Fournival composed motets.
sacred or religious - is music
performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.
A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers have derived inspiration from their own religion. Many forms of traditional music have been adapted to fit religions' purposes or have descended from religious music. There is a long history of Christian Church music. Johann Sebastian Bach, considered one of the most important and influential European classical music composers, wrote most of his music for the Lutheran church. Religious music often changes to fit the times; Contemporary Christian music, for example, uses idioms from various secular popular music styles but with religious lyrics.
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liturgical music - originated as
a part of religious ceremony, and includes a number of traditions, both ancient
and modern. Liturgical music is well known as a part of Catholic Mass, the
Anglican Holy Communion service (or Eucharist), the Lutheran Divine Service, the
Orthodox liturgy and other Christian services including the Divine Office. Such
ceremonial music in the Judeo-Christian tradition can be traced back to both
Temple and synagogue worship of the Hebrews.
The qualities that create the distinctive character of liturgical music are based on the notion that liturgical music is conceived and composed according to the norms and needs of the various historic liturgies of particular denominations.
opera v oratorio
- An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a
choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir,
soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias. However,
opera is musical theatre, while oratorio is strictly a concert piece—though
oratorios are sometimes staged as operas, and operas are sometimes presented in
concert form. In an oratorio there is generally little or no interaction between
the characters, and no props or elaborate costumes. A particularly important
difference is in the typical subject matter of the text. Opera tends to deal
with history and mythology, including age-old devices of romance, deception, and
murder, whereas the plot of an oratorio often deals with sacred topics, making
it appropriate for performance in the church. Protestant composers took their
stories from the Bible, while Catholic composers looked to the lives of saints.
Oratorios became extremely popular in early 17th century Italy partly because of
the success of the opera and the Church's prohibition of spectacles during Lent.
Oratorios became the main choice of music during that period for opera
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- also known by its Italian
name "recitativo", is a style of delivery (much used in operas, oratorios, and
cantatas) in which a singer is allowed to adopt the rhythms of ordinary speech.
The mostly syllabic recitativo secco ("dry", accompanied only by continuo) is at
one end of a spectrum through recitativo accompagnato (using orchestra), the
more melismatic arioso, and finally the full-blown aria or ensemble, where the
pulse is entirely governed by the music.
Recitative does not repeat lines as formally composed songs do. It resembles sung ordinary speech more than a formal musical composition. The term recitative (or occasionally liturgical recitative) is also applied to the simpler formulas of Gregorian chant, such as the tones used for the Epistle and Gospel, preface and collects.
gregorian chant - is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services. It is named after Pope Gregory I, Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604, who is traditionally credited for having ordered the simplification and cataloging of music assigned to specific celebrations in the church calendar. The resulting body of music is the first to be notated in a system ancestral to modern musical notation. In general, the chants were learned by the viva voce method, that is, by following the given example orally, which took many years of experience in the Schola Cantorum. Gregorian chant originated in monastic life, in which celebrating the 'Divine Office' eight times a day at the proper hours was upheld according to the Rule of St. Benedict. Singing psalms made up a large part of the life in a monastic community, while a smaller group and soloists sang the chants. In its long history, Gregorian chant has been subjected to many gradual changes and some reforms.
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- (also plainchant; Latin:
cantus planus) is a body of chants used in the liturgies of the Catholic Church.
Though the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Catholic Church did not split until
long after the origin of plainchant, Byzantine chants are generally not
classified as plainsong.
Plainsong is monophonic, consisting of a single, unaccompanied melodic line. It generally has a more free rhythm than the metered rhythm of later Western music.
- incl homophony, heterophony,
monophony monophony itself is the simplest of textures, consisting of melody
without accompanying harmony. This may be realized as just one note at a time,
or with the same note duplicated at the octave. If the entire melody is sung by
two voices or a choir with an interval between the notes or in unison, it is
also said to be in monophony. Music in which all the notes sung are in unison is
called monophonic. Musical texture is determined in song and music by varying
components. Songs intersperse monophony, heterophony, polyphony, homophony, or
monody elements throughout the melody to create atmosphere and style. Monophony
may not have underlying rhythmic textures, and must consist of only a melodic
line. The musics of some cultures where there is a melodic line with rhythmic
accompaniment must be considered homophony.
polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony).
Within the context of the Western musical tradition, the term is usually used to refer to music of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Baroque forms such as the fugue, which might be called polyphonic, are usually described instead as contrapuntal.
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contrapuntal - In its most general aspect, counterpoint involves the writing of musical lines that sound very different and move independently from each other but sound harmonious when played simultaneously. In each era, contrapuntally organized music writing has been subject to rules, sometimes strict. By definition, chords occur when multiple notes sound simultaneously; however, harmonic, "vertical" features are considered secondary and almost incidental when counterpoint is the predominant textural element. Counterpoint focuses on melodic interaction—only secondarily on the harmonies produced by that interaction. In the words of John Rahn: it is hard to write a beautiful song. It is harder to write several individually beautiful songs that, when sung simultaneously, sound as a more beautiful polyphonic whole. The internal structures that create each of the voices separately must contribute to the emergent structure of the polyphony, which in turn must reinforce and comment on the structures of the individual voices. The way that is accomplished in detail is...'counterpoint'.
tenebrae - (Latin for 'shadows' or 'darkness') is a Christian religious service celebrated by the Western Church on the evening before or early morning of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, which are the last three days of Holy Week. The distinctive ceremony of Tenebrae is the gradual extinguishing of candles while a series of readings and psalms are chanted or recited. The lessons of the first nocturn at Matins are taken from the Book of Lamentations and are sung to a specific Gregorian reciting tone. They have also been set to music by many composers, of whom the most famous are Palestrina, Tallis, Lassus, Charpentier, Couperin and Stravinsky. In addition, the responsories have been set by Lassus, Gesualdo, Victoria.
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responsories - is any psalm, canticle, or other sacred musical work sung responsorially, that is, with a cantor or small group singing verses while the whole choir or congregation respond with a refrain. A responsory has two parts: a respond (or refrain), and a verse. Methods of performance vary, but typically the respond will be begun by the cantor then taken up by the entire choir. The verse is then sung by a cantor or a small group; or the verse can be begun by the cantor and continued by the entire choir. The chant concludes with a repetition of all or part of the respond.
conductus - In medieval music, conductus is a type of sacred, but non-liturgical vocal composition for one or more voices. The word derives from Latin conducere (to escort), and the conductus was most likely sung while the lectionary was carried from its place of safekeeping to the place from which it was to be read. The conductus was one of the principal types of vocal composition of the ars antiqua period of medieval music history. The form most likely originated in the south of France around 1150, and reached its peak development during the activity of the Notre Dame School in the early 13th century. Most of the conductus compositions of the large mid-13th century manuscript collection from Notre Dame are for two or three voices. Conductus are also unique in the Notre Dame repertory in admitting secular melodies as source material, though sacred melodies were also commonly used. Common subjects for the songs were lives of the saints, feasts of the Lord, the Nativity, as well as more current subjects such as exemplary behavior of contemporary witnesses to the faith, such as Thomas Becket. A significant and interesting repertory of conductus from late in the period consists of songs which criticize abuses by the clergy, including some which are quite outraged. Almost all composers of conductus are anonymous
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orchestra - An orchestra is a sizable
instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and
percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from Greek, the name for the
area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus. The
orchestra grew by accretion throughout the eighteenth and 19th centuries, but
changed very little in composition during the course of the 20th century.
A smaller-sized orchestra for this time period (of about fifty players or fewer) is called a chamber orchestra. A full-size orchestra (about 100 players) may sometimes be called a "symphony orchestra" or "philharmonic orchestra";
concerto v symphony -
A concerto (from the Italian: concerto, plural concerti or, often, the
anglicised form concertos) is a musical work usually composed in three parts or
movements, in which (usually) one solo instrument (for instance, a piano,
violin, cello or flute) is accompanied by an orchestra.
The etymology is uncertain, but the word seems to have originated from the conjunction of the two Latin words conserere (meaning to tie, to join, to weave) and certamen (competition, fight): the idea is that the two parts in a concerto, the soloist and the orchestra, alternate episodes of opposition, cooperation, and independence in the creation of the music flow.
The concerto, as understood in this modern way, arose in the Baroque period side by side with the concerto grosso, which contrasted a small group of instruments with the rest of the orchestra. The popularity of the concerto grosso form declined after the Baroque period, and the genre was not revived until the 20th century. The solo concerto, however, has remained a vital musical force from its inception to this day.
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. "Symphony" does not necessarily imply a specific form, though most are composed according to the sonata principle. Many symphonies are tonal works in four movements with the first in sonata form, which is often described by music theorists as the structure of a "classical" symphony, although many symphonies by the acknowledged classical masters of the form, Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven do not conform to this model.
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In the Baroque era, the term "sonata" was applied to a variety of works for solo
instrument such as keyboard or violin, and for groups of instruments. In the
transition from the Baroque to the Classical period, the term sonata underwent a
change in usage, coming to mean a chamber-music genre for either a solo
instrument (usually a keyboard), or a solo melody instrument with piano.
Increasingly after 1800, the term applied to a form of large-scale musical
argument, and it was generally used in this sense in musicology and musical
speed or how fast was i going officer? - below are the generally accepted forms of musical speed
Larghissimo — very, very slow
Grave — slow and solemn
Lento — slowly
Largo — broadly
Larghetto — rather broadly
Adagio — slow and stately (literally, "at ease")
Adagietto — rather slow
Andante Moderato — a bit slower than andante
Andante — at a walking pace
Andantino – slightly faster than andante
Moderato — moderately
Allegretto — moderately fast (but less so than allegro)
Allegro moderato — moderately quick
Allegro — fast, quickly and bright
Vivace — lively and fast (quicker than allegro)
Vivacissimo — very fast and lively
Allegrissimo — very fast
Presto — very fast
Prestissimo — extremely fast
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- is a form of classical music, written for a small group of
instruments which traditionally could be accommodated in a palace chamber. Most
broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of
performers with one performer to a part. The word "chamber" signifies that the
music can be performed in a small room, often in a private salon with an
intimate atmosphere. However, it usually does not include, by definition, solo
Because of its intimate nature, chamber music has been described as "the music of friends."
staff (or stave) - The Staff
as we know it today originated from musically annotated text, through the
Gregorian Chants around the 12th to 13th centuries. Until this time, symbols
were used in conjunction with text to represent pitch. However, when the chants
were written, people began to use lines to represent pitch, in addition to the
pitch symbols above the text. While at first only one line was used, eventually
the system expanded to four lines and used mainly dots among those lines to
represent pitch. However, different numbers of lines were used throughout Europe
for different instruments. France soon began to incorporate five lines into its
music, which became widespread by the 16th century, and was the norm throughout
Europe by the 17th century. The names of the staff in some languages, such as
the Italian pentagramma, reflects the importance of five lines.
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pian' e forte -
means an instrumental piece using soft and loud dynamics.
A fine example is Sonata written by Giovanni Gabrieli, an Italian composer and organist in 1597.
poetic and musical
form of 14th-century Italy; more importantly, a term in general use during the
16th century and much of the 17th for settings of various types and forms of
secular verse. There is no connection between the 14th- and the 16th-century
madrigal other than that of name; the former passed out of fashion a century
before the term was revived. The later madrigal became the most popular form of
secular polyphony in the second half of the 16th century, serving as a model for
madrigals and madrigal-like compositions in languages other than Italian
throughout Europe. It set the pace for stylistic developments that culminated in
the Baroque period, particularly those involving the expressive relationship
between text and music, and must be regarded as the most important genre of the
After about 1530 the term ‘madrigal’ began to be used regularly in Italy as a general name for musical settings of various types and forms of verse. One of these, a single stanza with a free rhyme scheme and a varying number of seven- and 11-syllable lines, revived the 14th-century poetic term ‘madrigale’. To some 16th-century writers the word ‘madrigal’ meant only this poetic form (along with, perhaps, the 14th-century madrigal itself, a different and less variable form); and one often finds musical settings of Italian poetry called simply ‘canti’. But to many, and certainly to music publishers, ‘madrigal’ was a generic term, like the earlier ‘frottola’; musical settings of sonnets, ballatas, canzoni, lyric and narrative ottava stanzas, pastoral verse, popular and dialect poems were all known as madrigals.
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