minuet: a graceful and extremely popular dance in triple meter, usually in binary form. The minuet first emerged in the middle of the 17th century, and became wildly popular at the court of Louis XIV; the king himself was reported to be an excellent minuet dancer. The minuet was the only baroque dance form that did not become obsolete in the classical period, as it often concluded an opera overture and was subsequently incorporated into the symphony.
viol: a member of a family of stringed instruments in use from the 16th through most of the 18th century, and the precursor of the violin. The term viola da gamba referred to those instruments held on the knee or between the legs, while viola da braccio meant those that were played on the arm. Viols have a fretted fingerboard, a flat-backed body, six strings, and are played with a curved bow usually resting on the leg. They were the precursors of the violin family.
First page of the holograph manuscript of Mendelssohn's Octet (1825). Performing Arts Reading Room, Library of Congress. While the genre of the string quartet -- consisting of two violins, one viola and one 'cello -- developed slowly over the second half of the eighteenth century, it had, by the turn of the nineteenth century, achieved such a wide popularity as to be regarded as the vehicle par excellence of both chamber music and "modern" music of the era. The string quartet's repertoire was then still rather limited, however, despite the contributions of dozens of composers to satisfy audiences' demands for works in this new medium. The unusual (for the time) instrumentation of Mendelssohn's Octet (1825), scored for four violins, two violas and two cellos -- in essence, a double string quartet -- is therefore as unexpected as it is brilliantly innovative.
The composer's sister Fanny wrote that Mendelssohn once revealed his vision of the Scherzo movement to her: that "the whole piece is to be played staccato and pianissimo... the trills passing away with the quickness of lightning... one feels so near to the world of spirits, carried away in the air, half inclined to snatch up a broomstick and follow the aerial procession... and at the end, ...all has vanished." The mood of the Scherzo movement from the Octet, to which Mendelssohn himself attached special importance (he even arranged the movement for full orchestra in about 1829), was recreated the following year in his Midsummer Night's Dream overture, based on Shakespeare's play of the same name, and depicting the fleeting twilit moments when the world of humans meets that of the spirits.
homorhythms: the same rhythms in all parts, as in the singing of a hymn.counterpoint (noun; contrapuntal = adjective): like polyphony in that it has two or more compatible melodies performed simultaneously.Related to tempo: consult the Oxford Music Onlinecommonly in Italian from the 17th-18th c., and then increasingly in other vernacular languageslargo, lento, adagio, andante, moderato, allegretto, allegro, presto, prestissimoqualifying terms: meno (less), pi (more), molto (very or much) poco a poco (little by little), assai (very) mosso (motion), sostenuto (sustained), non troppo (not too much)Related to expression:crescendodecrescendo/diminuendopianofortemezzoterraced dynamics: a sudden and dramatic shift from loud to soft or soft to loudaccelerandorubatoReleated to timbre: classifications of instrumentschordophone: string instrumentsaerophones: wind produces the sound (woodwinds and brass instruments)membranophone: a vibrating membrane produces the sound (drums)idiophone: sound is produced from the material (wood, glass, stone, metal)Related to ensembles:choir: vocal ensemblevoice ranges: bass, tenor, alto, soprano (from lowest to highest)choral: music written for a choira cappella: choral music without instrumental accompaniment, literally ?at the chapel?polychoral: two or more choirs in a composition, usually with an antiphonal or echo effectorchestra: large instrumental ensemble with stringsband: large instrumental ensemble without stringschamber ensembles: trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, octetStandard ensemble combinations:string trio: three string instrumentspiano trio: piano, violin, cellostring quartet: two violins, viola, cellopiano quintet: piano and a string quartetbrass quintet: 2 trumpets, french horn, trombone, tuba wind quintet: flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, french hornRelated to text and music:syllabic: one syllable sung to each notemelismatic: one syllable sung to several notes sacred: religious music, often for the church liturgy (services) secular: worldly, non-religious music, usually in the vernacularvernacular: texts in the language of the people (English, French, Spanish, German, etc.)Related to musical forms: Generally capital letters are used to distinguish different sections of a composition. A capital refers to an exact repetition. A lowercase letter refers to the same music but new text. A prime number after the capital refers to a variation of the music from the original section. repetitive forms: strophic: a vocal form consisting of several phrases. The musical form is repeated using different verses of text, as in a hymn or folksong. modified strophic: simply means that the repetitions of the sections are varied slightly, but not so much that they are a significant variation or the original.bar form: two sections of music, with only the first section A repeated. Many hymns use the far form.binary form: two sections of music, usually with each A and B section repeated. This is typically used in dances. When a group dances are combined into a suite, the dances generally all stay in the same key.
Students are encouraged to listen to several examples of each style at online sources available through Classical Music.net, Naxos, or other online sites and to listen for the characteristics given below.Early medieval music to 850: mainly plainsongs (chants) written in Latin for the churchsacred: worship music for the church, always in Latin texture: monophonicmotion: conjunct melodiestext settings: syllabic and melismaticrhythm: free rhythms based on the syllables of the textscales: modal, based on the pitches D (Dorian), E (Phrygian), F (Lydian), G (Mixolydian)ranges: narrow, usually less than an octavenotation: neumes --groups of notes in symbols, showing the direction of the melodic patterns. musical staff: ranging from one to four lines, c-clefs, no bar lines or metersaccidentals: B-flat onlysources: manuscripts are hand copied on parchmentgenres: numerous types of chants (songs in Latin for the church services)composers: mostly anonymousDevelopment of polyphony: 850-1300textures: polyphonic harmony: perfect consonances (perfect fourths, fifths and octaves)harmonic motion: parallel, then in contrary and oblique motionmelodic motion: conjunct in each voice parttext settings: syllabic and melismatic, mostly in Latinscales: modalrhythm: repetitive rhythmic patterns in compound time called rhythmic modesnotation: modal; signs (neumes) show the groups of notes that form each rhythmic unitmusical staff: four to five lines, c-clefs, no bar lines or meters, no dynamics or expression marks, voice designations: tenor, duplum, triplum, quadruplumsources: manuscripts are hand copied on parchmentgenres: organum (chant combined with polyphony), motet (polyphonic settings with new and separate texts added to each voice chants composers: Leonin and Perotin (Notre Dame in Paris), Hildegard of BingenDevelopment of secular music: 1100-1300secular: worldly music not written for religious servicestexts: vernacular languages - French, German, Spanish, Englishtexture: mostly monophonicmotion: conjunct melodiestext settings: syllabic and melismaticrhythm: mostly unmetered rhythms until 1250, metered for dancesscales: modal ranges: narrow, usually less than an octavetraditions: troubadours (South French), trouvres (North French), Minnesingers (German) instrumental dancesinstruments: organs, recorders, sackbuts (trombone), shawm (double reed), vielles (string)composers: Bernart of Ventadorn, Beatrice of Dia, Adam de la Halle, and hundreds of othersLate medieval music: 1300-1420 ?the New Art (Ars nova)textures: polyphonic texts: vernacular and Latin rhythm: complex rhythmic patterns, simple and compound metrical groups, often syncopatedmelodic motion: conjunct linesharmony: consonances: (P=perfect) P4, P5, P8, some thirdsranges: often an octave in each voicecantus firmus: a pre-existent melody (chant, for example) used in the lower voice (tenor)musical notation: mensural; early time signatures (mensuration signs), but still no bar lines 5-line staff with c and f clefs, flats and sharps used on individual notes, and flats at the beginning of a line apply throughout the line, but not as ?tonal? key signatures. voice designations: tenor, contratenor, triplum, cantus sources: manuscripts are hand copied on parchment genres: isorhythmic motets, masses, dance songs (ballade, virelai, rondeau) composers: Philippe de Vitry, Guillaume de Machaut, Francesco LandiniRenaissance ("rebirth"): 1420-1600scales: modal texture: polyphonic, often organized by imitation and canons, or homorhythmic motion: conjunct lines with some wider skipsrhythm: regular pulses, but often without a metrical pulse in vocal music; metrical rhythms and strong downbeats in dances and instrumental music harmony: triadic, but cadences on perfect fifths and octaves (some Picardy thirds at cadences ? the name Picardy comes from north French region where many of these composers originated) ranges: expand to utilize the full SATB registersgenres: growth of numerous sacred and secular genresvocal: predominant in sacred and secular musicsacred music: sung a cappellasecular music: can be sung with instrumentsnotation: mensural; early time signatures (mensuration signs), but still no bar lines. 5-line staff with c and f clefs, parts written on individual sections of the page, no dynamic markings voice designations: tenor, contratenor, cantus, later changing to cantus, altus, tenor, bassus. sources: music printing develops in 1501 in Italy. Manuscripts also continue to be hand copied.genres: single-movement compositions, except for the Mass cycle and dance pairsmass cycle: sacred choral, a capella composition with specific Ordinary sections of the Catholic service composed as a group, often with the same cantus firmus in the tenor part motet: sacred choral, a capella composition with words in Latin chorale: sacred hymn with words in German chanson: secular polyphonic composition with words in French madrigal: secular polyphonic composition with words in Italian Lied: secular polyphonic composition with words in German ayre: secular polyphonic composition with words in English canzona: instrumental composition in the style of a chanson dances: usually in pairs, like the slow pavan and the fast galliardmusical instruments: harpsichord (also called the virginal), clavichord, lute, viola da gamba family (also called viols), recorders, cornetto, shawm, sackbut. The violin is developed, but is mostly used outdoors. Instruments are not usually specified for compositions.ensembles: called ?consorts.? A whole consort is an ensemble of the same family (e.g., all recorders, SATB) and a broken consort is a mixed ensemble.composers: Du Fay, Dunstable, Binchois, Ockeghem, Josquin des Prez, Palestrina, Byrd, Morley, Dowland, Marenzio, Monteverdi, and hundreds or othersBaroque Era: 1600-1750textures: homophonic, polyphonic, and contrapuntal texturesrhythms: metrical rhythms, strong and weak beat pulsesmotives: short ideas become the basis for continuous pitch and register manipulation, often presented without regular pauses in the musicscales: major and minor scales developharmonic rhythm: changes often occur on every beat or every two beats basso continuo: bass line played by the harpsichord and cello or other solo bass instrument figured bass: develops c. 1600; number notations that inform the continuo player of the intervals and accidentals in relation to the bass notes; the realization of the harmonies is improvised.terraced dynamics: contrasting piano and forte in abrupt dynamic shiftsornamentation: melodic decorations, often improvised or added from symbols given in scoresaffections: music expresses specific emotionsconcertato style: contrast is emphasized through alternating groups of voices and/or instrumentspolychoral: a composition for multiple choirs or voices and/or instrumentsritornello: instrumental refrain that frequently returns, as in a concerto or between verses of a song notation: modern symbols, written in score notation with time signatures, key signatures, dynamics (piano and forte), measures with bar lines, instrument and voice designations. instruments: the violin family, horns and trumpets (without valves) are not new instruments, but they begin to appear and gain importance in specific ensembles. Harpsichords, and especially organs, become more fully developed as solo instruments. The oboe and bassoon replace the shawm and the dulcian as the principal double reeds.ensembles: string orchestras are expanded with individual instruments that contrast in timbre to each othergenres: numerous multi-movement compositions opera seria: Italian opera, serious in nature, in which the narrative (recitative) and reflective (aria) numbers are all sung, and including staging, costumes, scenery and dramatic acting.oratorio: work for soloists, chorus and orchestra, based on a sacred story; with no acting costumes or scenery.cantata: a composition for one or more voices and accompanimentchorale cantata: a work with soloists, chorus and orchestra, incorporating hymns into the composition.trio sonata: two solo instruments, keyboard and continuous bass instrument fantasia/prelude/toccata: improvisatory compositions, often paired with a fugue fugue: paired with an improvisatory composition (fantasia, toccata or prelude)suite: a collection of dances (allemande, courant, saraband, gigue)solo concerto: a solo instrument and a chamber orchestraconcerto grosso: a small group of solo instruments contrasted with a chamber orchestra. A multi- movement compositionoverture: instrumental movement used at the beginning of an opera or oratoriocomposers: Monteverdi, Schtz, Corelli, Couperin, Handel, Vivaldi, J. S. BachClassical Era: 1750-1800 aesthetic: balance, symmetry and formality, reflecting the rational objectivity of the Enlightenment melody: sometimes tuneful and folk-like; at other times motivically constructed; lyrical themes contrast with dramatic onesphrasing: periodic, in multiples of 4, usually separated by rests; balanced antecedent-consequent phrase relationships tonality: major and minor keys, with major more prevalent texture: homophonic, with occasional counterpoint, especially in developmental sections harmony: triadic with 7th chords used for color and tension; primary chords (I ?IV-V-I) predominateharmonic rhythm: slow, changing every two to four beatsmodulations: to closely related keys (e.g., to IV or V in Major; to III in minor).accompaniments: broken triadic patterns (Alberti bass); repetitive broken octaves (murky bass)instrumentation: homogeneous sounds (orchestras with doubling of winds), musical material organized by families; standardized combinations of instruments within a genre; piano and clarinet (both invented in the Baroque) added to the repertory forms: standardized sonata form, theme and variations, minuet & trio, rondo, concerto-sonata dynamic gradations and expansions: crescendos, diminuendos, piano and forte dynamic (pp & ff very occasionally); occasional accents on off-beats, sforzandosgenres: opera seria comic opera oratorio mass Lied sonata, especially keyboard sonatas string quartet symphony solo concertocomposers: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven Romantic Era: 1800-1900, or nineteenth-century musicaesthetic: freedom from boundaries, including those that separate the arts: music becomes more programmatic, merging with literature, art, and philosophy; programmatic elements reflect this trend; interest in the subjective, including the emotions and the supernatural, in contrast with the more objective and rational Classic. melody: long, emotional, and memorable, using wide leaps for expressionphrases: of irregular lengths, with less symmetry than those of the Classicrhythm: displaced accents, shifting and overlapping of duple and triple patternstexture: homophony predominates, highlighting the melody, but counterpoint appears at times harmony: more extensive, with chord extensions and greater dissonancetonality: tonal, but with distant chord progressions and modulations; chromaticism is used extensively; key areas often change freely within movements; minor mode predominates, in contrast with the Classic accompaniment: complex, sometimes contrapuntal, with wide ranges and disjunct intervalsdynamics: dramatic, at extremes of the dynamic range; tempi use expressive terminologymeter and tempo: freer meters and tempiforms: less clearly defined by sections and tonalityinstrumentation: larger forces of the orchestra, with a greatly expanded range of timbres that demanded instrumental evolution (valves for brass instruments, more keys for winds, larger and stronger pianos, pedaled harps; new instruments, including the tuba, saxophone, and celeste); inclusion of voice and chorus in later symphonic works scale: on one hand, short, intimate compositions for piano (character piece) or voice and piano (lied, chanson); on the other, expansion of proportions of the symphony, chamber music, concerto, sonata, mass; opera roles demand bigger voices to match more grandiose dramatic concepts genres: cyclic symphony symphonic poem/tone poem symphonic suite concert overture concerto ballet chamber music Lied and chanson song cycles music drama nationalistic opera lyric opera mass and oratorio piano sonata single-movement character pieces and dances for pianocomposers: Schubert, Robert and Clara Schumann, Verdi, Brahms, Twentieth-century music: 1900-2000 wide range of tonal, modal, whole tone, atonal, serial, and approaches to composition wide range of harmonic structures: triadic, quartal, clustersrhythms: polymeters, asymmetrical metersmelodies: disjunct, Sprechstimme (half sung/half spoken) timbres: non-traditional uses of instruments, global instruments, electronic soundsmixed media: music combined with film, art, theaterform: traditional and non-traditional structuresexpression: ranges from subdued works (Impressionism) to excessive exaggeration (Expressionism) nationalism and folk elementsreturn to musical characteristics of earlier periods: Neo-Classicism (including Neo-Baroque elements) and Neo-Romanticismminimalismjazz and other African-American influencescomposers: Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Debussy, Bartok, Ives, Barber, Copland, Cage, and Glass. 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