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MUSIC100 Chapter 7 - M US IC100 Chapter 7 T H E C LASSIC...

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MUSIC100 Chapter 7 THE CLASSIC ERA: 1750 – 1800 - The term “classic” is usually used to describe something with an appeal that is both very broad and very long-lasting - This signals the continual process of attracting enthusiasts long after they first appeared - It also means that they appeal to a wide range of people - Both of these things are true of Classic music - The music of the greatest composers of the Classic era has been popular with audiences ever since it was written From Absolutism to Enlightenment to Revolution - The eighteenth century was a time of profound social and political change - It began with the death in 1715 Louis XIV of France, the most powerful absolute ruler in Europe, and it ended with two of the most significant revolutions in modern history: the American War of Independence (1775-83) and the French Revolution (1789-94) - The whole period was coloured by the philosophical movement known as the Enlightenment - This movement, led by the great French philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau, who both died in 1778, attempted to apply the principles of scientific objectivity to issues of social justice - Its adherents tried to improve education, eliminate superstition and prejudice , and break down the rigid class structure that separated people from one another
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The Musical Public - Even the type of music composed in the Classic era was affected by the new musical public - The complex rhythms and counterpoint of Baroque music, with its heavy bass line and emotional intensity, were no longer in fashion - Music was now designed to appeal to a broader public - It had to be lighter, clearer, and more accessible - It had to be easier to listen to and easier to play - This was the era of several new genres, including the divertimento – a piece played as a “diversion” – and comic opera - A common musical language developed, one that could be understood by a broad range of society - In this language – the “classic” language of music – enormous amounts of music were composed - All of it is pleasant and accessible General Characteristics of Classic Music - Balance and proportion, clarity and accessibility: these are the primary features of Classic music - It is designed to be “easy on the ear.”
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- Yet that does not mean it cannot also be very beautiful, very moving, and very profound - Mozart once wrote to his father that his latest compositions would appeal to the most experienced listeners and to amateurs alike - The experts would appreciate all the subtleties, and the amateurs would be pleased “without knowing why.” - Classic music usually has just a melody and an accompaniment, and the accompaniment is light and simple - Imitative counterpoint is used only rarely, and then only for special effect - The melodies are pleasing and tuneful - Mozart was delighted when he was told that everyone on the streets of Prague was singing the tunes from his latest opera - There are some technical aspects to the special sound of Classic music - The first has to do with the length of melodic phrases -
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