Music History Research Paper.docx

Music History Research Paper.docx - MusicandControl: Ear...

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Music and Control: Society’s Progression to Music for the Ear by Nathaniel Parks Abstract:  The Ars Nova was a time of highly intellectual, controlled music. Composers of  this era looked to express their intelligence through music, creating pieces such as  Cordier’s “ Belle, Bonne, Sage .” This era’s music was criticized by many and not  accepted readily by the masses. As a backlash to this, the Renaissance era began  creating music “for the ear.” Instead of music being intellectual, they strove to make  music pleasurable for an uneducated audience.  This give and take of music can be seen in modern music as well. Serialism  arose as a strictly controlled, intellectual music that wasn’t written for the listener, but  rather for the composer and performer. As a backlash to this, the style of minimalism  was created. Minimalism was much more free and contained more music “for the ear.”   Throughout this paper, we will explore the similarities between these two era’s,  and the ensuing movements created by attempting to control and over-intellectualize  music.
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Throughout history, there are many events which have caused society to fall into  disarray. One such occurrence is World War II. During the Second World War, many  people felt a loss of control over their lives and the lives of those they loved. As a  response to this loss of control, it is probable that artists during this time turned to  music, theatre, etc., to find ways to gain control. This happened similarly 600 years prior when the Black Plague struck Europe. Music, during these times, became increasingly  controlled through the use of isorhythm during the Black Plague, and serialism during  World War II.  Once these outside factors calmed down, however, composers sought to change the strict, controlled nature of music. The isorhythmic music of the Medieval era was  forgone for the more tonal music of the Renaissance, and serialism was thrown out in  exchange for minimalism. Throughout this paper, we will explore the similarities  between these two era’s, and the ensuing movements created by attempting to control  and over-intellectualize music. Medieval Music, especially that of the Ars Nova, is incredibly controlled.  Composers during this time employed a method of composition called “Isorhythm.”  Isorhythm is a compositional technique created by separating melodic and rhythmic  lines, called the color and the talea, respectively. Each of the lines are written  independent of the other, and then added together in a piece of music. In Machaut’s 9th Motet, he uses a color of twelve notes and a talea of six. Below we can take a look at a  section of Machaut’s 9 th  motet and see its color and talea.
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