Useful Terms

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  1. A term applied to all culture of ancient Greece and Rome.
  2. A philosophy of rational and orderly thinking based on early Greek principles
  3. A term used for all Western Art Music from Medieval times to the present day

Classical Music

  1. Medieval Period: up to 1200- characterized by a single melodic line from 1200 to 1400- characterized by complex polyphony- 2, 3, and 4 independent lines
  2. Renaissance Period: 1450-1500- characterized by homogenous sound
  3. Baroque Period: 1600-1750- characterized by extreme contrasts
  4. Classical Period: 1750-1850- characterized by clearly articulated structure
  5. Romantic Period: 1850-1900- characterized by evocation of emotion 
  6. Modern Period: 1900-1960- characterized by breaking the rules of traditional harmony and form, and including broad experimentation with color, texture, and extended techniques. 
  7. New Music: 1960-2000- continues the thrust of modern music with the inclusion of electronically produced sound and other media
  8. Contemporary Music:  2000-present- music of today's composers; no rules


Classical Style's prevailing characteristics are:

1. Balance

Forms structure, section lengths, weight and placement of movements, and key structure, are balanced.

2. Clarity of architecture

Movements, sections, subsections, and phrases have recognizable beginnings and ends.

(Sections of movements might be: Minuet & Trio, or a Theme and its variations, or Exposition-Development-Recapitulation-Coda

3. Harmonic relationships

There is a hierarchy of chords within a key, and of keys within a piece or movement. (tonic, dominant, subdominant, parallel and related keys and modes, e.g.) For more information, click on "Harmony".

4. Harmony and architecture are linked.