A composer (Latin compōnō; literally "one who puts together") is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music (for a singer or choir), instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.
Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.
A musician is a person who plays a musical instrument or is musically talented. Anyone who composes, conducts, or performs music is referred to as a musician. A musician who plays a musical instrument is also known as an instrumentalist.
An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a writer. More broadly defined, an author is "the person who originated or gave existence to anything" and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created.
Many composers are, or were, also skilled performers of music.
Musical notation serves as a set of directions for a performer, but there is a whole continuum of possibilities concerning how much the performer determines the final form of the rendered work in performance.
Music notation or musical notation is any system used to visually represent aurally perceived music played with instruments or sung by the human voice through the use of written, printed, or otherwise-produced symbols.
Even in a conventional Western piece of instrumental music, in which all of the melodies, chords, and basslines are written out in musical notation, the performer has a degree of latitude to add artistic interpretation to the work, by such means as by varying his or her articulation and phrasing, choosing how long to make fermatas (held notes) or pauses, and — in the case of bowed string instruments, woodwinds or brass instruments — deciding whether to use expressive effects such as vibrato or portamento. For a singer or instrumental performer, the process of deciding how to perform music that has been previously composed and notated is termed "interpretation". Different performers' interpretations of the same work of music can vary widely, in terms of the tempos that are chosen and the playing or singing style or phrasing of the melodies. Composers and songwriters who present their own music are interpreting, just as much as those who perform the music of others. The standard body of choices and techniques present at a given time and a given place is referred to as performance practice, whereas interpretation is generally used to mean the individual choices of a performer.[ citation needed ]
A bassline is the term used in many styles of music, such as jazz, blues, funk, dub and electronic, traditional music, or classical music for the low-pitched instrumental part or line played by a rhythm section instrument such as the electric bass, double bass, cello, tuba or keyboard. In unaccompanied solo performance, basslines may simply be played in the lower register of any instrument such as guitar or piano while melody and/or further accompaniment is provided in the middle or upper register. In solo music for piano and pipe organ, these instruments have an excellent lower register that can be used to play a deep bassline. On organs, the bass line is typically played using the pedal keyboard and massive 16' and 32' bass pipes.
Musical phrasing is the way a musician shapes a sequence of notes in a passage of music to allow expression, much like when speaking English a phrase may be written identically but may be spoken differently, and is named for the interpretation of small units of time known as phrases. A musician accomplishes this by interpreting the music—from memory or sheet music—by altering tone, tempo, dynamics, articulation, inflection, and other characteristics. Phrasing can emphasise a concept in the music or a message in the lyrics, or it can digress from the composer's intention, aspects of which are commonly indicated in musical notation called phrase marks or phrase markings. For example, accelerating the tempo or prolonging a note may add tension.
A phrase is a substantial musical thought, which ends with a musical punctuation called a cadence. Phrases are created in music through an interaction of melody, harmony, and rhythm.
A fermata is a symbol of musical notation indicating that the note should be prolonged beyond the normal duration its note value would indicate. Exactly how much longer it is held is up to the discretion of the performer or conductor, but twice as long is common. It is usually printed above but can be occasionally below the note to be extended.
Although a musical composition often has a single author, this is not always the case. A work of music can have multiple composers, which often occurs in popular music when a band collaborates to write a song, or in musical theatre, where the songs may be written by one person, the orchestration of the accompaniment parts and writing of the overture is done by an orchestrator, and the words may be written by a third person.
Musical composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music, either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other instrumental musicians or singers. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing and/or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.
Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional or "folk" music. Art music was historically disseminated through the performances of written music, although since the beginning of the recording industry, it is also disseminated through recordings. Traditional music forms such as early blues songs or hymns were passed along orally, or to smaller, local audiences.
Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera and dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue, movement and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals.
A piece of music can also be composed with words, images, or, in the 20th and 21st century, computer programs that explain or notate how the singer or musician should create musical sounds. Examples of this range from wind chimes jingling in a breeze, to avant-garde music from the 20th century that uses graphic notation, to text compositions such as Aus den sieben Tagen , to computer programs that select sounds for musical pieces. Music that makes heavy use of randomness and chance is called aleatoric music, and is associated with contemporary composers active in the 20th century, such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Witold Lutosławski.
Graphic notation is the representation of music through the use of visual symbols outside the realm of traditional music notation. Graphic notation evolved in the 1950s, and can be used either in combination with or instead of traditional music notation. Composers often rely on graphic notation in experimental music, where standard musical notation can be ineffective. Other uses include pieces where an aleatoric or undetermined effect is desired. One of the earliest pioneers of the technique, along with John Cage, was Earle Brown, who sought to liberate performers from the constraints of notation and makes them active participants in the creation of the music.
Aus den sieben Tagen is a collection of 15 text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed in May 1968, in reaction to a personal crisis, and characterized as "Intuitive music"—music produced primarily from the intuition rather than the intellect of the performer(s). It is Work Number 26 in the composer's catalog of works.
Aleatoricmusic is music in which some element of the composition is left to chance, and/or some primary element of a composed work's realization is left to the determination of its performer(s). The term is most often associated with procedures in which the chance element involves a relatively limited number of possibilities.
The nature and means of individual variation of the music is varied, depending on the musical culture in the country and time period it was written. For instance, music composed in the Baroque era, particularly in slow tempos, often was written in bare outline, with the expectation that the performer would add improvised ornaments to the melody line during a performance. Such freedom generally diminished in later eras, correlating with the increased use by composers of more detailed scoring in the form of dynamics, articulation et cetera; composers becoming uniformly more explicit in how they wished their music to be interpreted, although how strictly and minutely these are dictated varies from one composer to another. Because of this trend of composers becoming increasingly specific and detailed in their instructions to the performer, a culture eventually developed whereby faithfulness to the composer's written intention came to be highly valued (see, for example, Urtext edition). This musical culture is almost certainly related to the high esteem (bordering on veneration) in which the leading classical composers are often held by performers.
Baroque music is a period or style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. This era followed the Renaissance music era, and was followed in turn by the Classical era. Baroque music forms a major portion of the "classical music" canon, and is now widely studied, performed, and listened to. Key composers of the Baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Arcangelo Corelli, Tomaso Albinoni, François Couperin, Giuseppe Tartini, Heinrich Schütz, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Dieterich Buxtehude, and Johann Pachelbel.
Musical improvisation is the creative activity of immediate musical composition, which combines performance with communication of emotions and instrumental technique as well as spontaneous response to other musicians. Sometimes musical ideas in improvisation are spontaneous, but may be based on chord changes in classical music and many other kinds of music. One definition is a "performance given extempore without planning or preparation." Another definition is to "play or sing (music) extemporaneously, by inventing variations on a melody or creating new melodies, rhythms and harmonies." Encyclopædia Britannica defines it as "the extemporaneous composition or free performance of a musical passage, usually in a manner conforming to certain stylistic norms but unfettered by the prescriptive features of a specific musical text. Improvisation is often done within a pre-existing harmonic framework or chord progression. Improvisation is a major part of some types of 20th-century music, such as blues, jazz, and jazz fusion, in which instrumental performers improvise solos, melody lines and accompaniment parts.
An urtext edition of a work of classical music is a printed version intended to reproduce the original intention of the composer as exactly as possible, without any added or changed material. Other kinds of editions distinct from urtext are facsimile and interpretive editions, discussed below.
The historically informed performance movement has revived to some extent the possibility of the performer elaborating in a serious way the music as given in the score, particularly for Baroque music and music from the early Classical period. The movement might be considered a way of creating greater faithfulness to the original in works composed at a time that expected performers to improvise. In genres other than classical music, the performer generally has more freedom; thus for instance when a performer of Western popular music creates a "cover" of an earlier song, there is little expectation of exact rendition of the original; nor is exact faithfulness necessarily highly valued (with the possible exception of "note-for-note" transcriptions of famous guitar solos).
In Western art music, the composer typically orchestrates his or her own compositions, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop songwriter may not use notation at all, and instead compose the song in his or her mind and then play or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written scores play in classical music. The study of composition has traditionally been dominated by examination of methods and practice of Western classical music, but the definition of composition is broad enough the creation of popular and traditional music songs and instrumental pieces and to include spontaneously improvised works like those of free jazz performers and African percussionists such as Ewe drummers.
The level of distinction between composers and other musicians varies, which affects issues such as copyright [ specify ] and the deference given to individual interpretations of a particular piece of music.[ citation needed ] In the development of European classical music, the function of composing music initially did not have much greater importance than that of performing it.[ citation needed ] The preservation of individual compositions did not receive enormous attention and musicians generally had no qualms about modifying compositions for performance. In as much as the role of the composer in western art music has seen continued solidification, in alternative idioms (i.e. jazz, experimental music) it has in some ways become increasingly complex or vague. For instance, in certain contexts the line between composer and performer, sound designer, arranger, producer, and other roles, can be quite blurred.
The term "composer" is often used to refer to composers of instrumental music, such as those found in classical, jazz or other forms of art and traditional music. In popular and folk music, the composer is usually called a songwriter, since the music generally takes the form of a song. Since the mid-20th century, the term has expanded to accommodate creators of electroacoustic music, in which composers directly create sonic material in any of the various electronic media, such as reel-to-reel tape and electronic effects units, which may be presented to an audience by replaying a tape or other sound recording, or by having live instrumentalists and singers perform with prerecorded material. This is distinct from a 19th-century conception of instrumental composition, where the work was represented solely by a musical score to be interpreted by performers.
Music was an important part of social and cultural life in Ancient Greece. We know that composers wrote notated music during the Ancient Greek era because scholars have found the Seikilos epitaph. The epitaph, written sometime between 200 BC and 100 AD,is the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, in the world. The song, the melody of which is recorded, alongside its lyrics, in the ancient Greek musical notation, was found engraved on a tombstone, a stele, near Aydın, Turkey (not far from Ephesus). It is a Hellenistic Ionic song in either the Phrygian octave species or Iastian tonos.
| Léonin or Pérotin |
Breves dies hominis
During the Medieval music era (476 to 1400), composers wrote monophonic (single melodic line) chanting into Roman Catholic Church services. Western Music then started becoming more of an art form with the advances in music notation. The only European Medieval repertory that survives from before about 800 is the monophonic liturgical plainsong of the Roman Catholic Church, the central tradition of which was called Gregorian chant. Alongside these traditions of sacred and church music there existed a vibrant tradition of secular song (non-religious songs). Examples of composers from this period are Léonin, Pérotin and Guillaume de Machaut.
| T.L. de Victoria |
During the Renaissance music era (c. 1400 to 1600) composers tended to focus more on writing songs about secular (non-religious) themes, such as courtly love. Around 1450, the printing press was invented, which made printed sheet music much less expensive and easier to mass-produce (prior to the invention of the printing press, all notated music was hand-copied). The increased availability of sheet music helped to spread composers' musical styles more quickly and across a larger area. By the middle of the 15th century, composers were writing richly polyphonic sacred music, in which different melody lines were interwoven simultaneously. Prominent composers from this era include Guillaume Dufay, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Thomas Morley, and Orlande de Lassus. As musical activity shifted from the church to the aristocratic courts, kings, queens and princes competed for the finest composers. Many leading important composers came from the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France. They are called the Franco-Flemish composers. They held important positions throughout Europe, especially in Italy. Other countries with vibrant musical activity included Germany, England, and Spain.
| J.S. Bach |
Toccata and Fugue
During the Baroque era of music (1600 to 1750), composers expanded the range and complexity of the music they were writing. The Baroque music era began when composers looked back to Ancient Greek music for the inspiration to create operas (dramatic vocal music accompanied by orchestra). Another key style of music composers used during this era was contrapuntal music. This style of writing required composers to have an advanced knowledge of music theory, as contrapuntal music involves multiple, independent melody lines played by instruments or sung by voices. There were strict counterpoint rules that composers had to learn. German Baroque composers wrote for small ensembles including strings, brass, and woodwinds, as well as choirs and for keyboard instruments such as pipe organ, harpsichord, and clavichord. During this period, composers developed several major music forms that lasted into later periods when they were expanded and evolved further, including the fugue, the invention, the sonata, and the concerto.The late Baroque style was polyphonically complex and richly ornamented. Some of the best-known composers from the Baroque era include Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Schütz, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Dieterich Buxtehude, Arcangelo Corelli, Henry Purcell, François Couperin, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel.
| W.A. Mozart |
Symphony 40 g-moll
Composers of music of the Classical Period (1750 to 1830) looked to the art and philosophy of Ancient Greece and Rome, to the ideals of balance, proportion and disciplined expression. Apart from when writing religious works, composers moved towards writing in a lighter, clearer and considerably simpler texture, using instrumental melodies that tended to be almost voicelike and singable. New genres were developed by composers. The main style was homophony,where a prominent melody and a subordinate chordal accompaniment part are clearly distinct.
Composers focused on instrumental music. It was dominated by further development of musical forms initially defined in the Baroque period: the sonata, the concerto, and the symphony. Others main kinds were the trio, string quartet, serenade and divertimento. The sonata was the most important and developed form. Although Baroque composers also wrote sonatas, the Classical style of sonata is completely distinct. All of the main instrumental forms of the Classical era, from string quartets to symphonies and concertos, were based on the structure of the sonata.
One of the most important changes made in the Classical period was the development of public concerts. The aristocracy still played a significant role in the sponsorship of concerts and compositions, but it was now possible for composers to survive without being permanent employees of queens or princes. The increasing popularity of classical music led to a growth in the number and types of orchestras. The expansion of orchestral concerts necessitated the building of large public performance spaces. Symphonic music including symphonies, musical accompaniment to ballet and mixed vocal/instrumental genres such as opera and oratorio became more popular.
The best known composers of Classicism are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert. Beethoven and Schubert are also considered to be composers in the later part of the Classical era, as it began to move towards Romanticism.
| R. Wagner |
During the Romantic music era (c. 1810 to 1900), composers turned the rigid styles and forms of the Classical era into more passionate, dramatic expressive pieces. Composers attempted to increase emotional expression and power of their music, and they tried to describe deeper truths or human feelings. With symphonic tone poems, composers tried to tell stories and evoke images or landscapes using instrumental music. Some composers promoted nationalistic pride with patriotic orchestral music inspired by folk music. For composers, the emotional and expressive qualities of music came to take precedence over following textbooks and tradition. Romantic composers grew in idiosyncrasy, and went further in the syncretism of exploring different art-forms in a musical context, (such as literature), history (historical figures and legends), or nature itself. Romantic love or longing was a prevalent theme in many works composed during this period. In some cases the formal structures from the classical period continued to be used (e.g., the sonata form used in string quartets and symphonies), but these forms were expanded and altered. In many cases, composers explored new approaches to use for existing genres, forms, and functions. Also, composers created new forms that were deemed better suited to the new subject matter. Opera and ballet continued to develop.
In the years after 1800, the music developed by Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert introduced a more dramatic, expressive style. In Beethoven's case, short motifs, developed organically, came to replace melody as the most significant compositional unit (an example is the distinctive four note figure used in his Fifth Symphony). Later Romantic composers such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Antonín Dvořák, and Gustav Mahler used more unusual chords and more dissonance to create dramatic tension. They generated complex and often much longer musical works. During the late Romantic period, composers explored dramatic chromatic alterations of tonality, such as extended chords and altered chords, which created new sound "colours". Composers in the Romantic era increased the size of the orchestra by adding players and using new instruments, creating a more powerful sound. Some Wagnerian orchestras included multiple harps, massive string sections and Wagner tubas.
In the 19th century, one of the key ways that new compositions became known to the public was by the sales of sheet music, which amateur music lovers would perform at home on their piano or other instruments. With 20th-century music, there was a vast increase in music listening as the radio gained popularity and phonographs were used to replay and distribute music. In the 20th century, contemporary classical composers were also influenced by the African-American improvisation-based jazz music. The jazz influence can be seen in Third Stream music and in the compositions of Leonard Bernstein. The focus of art music was characterized by exploration of new rhythms, styles, and sounds. Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and John Cage were all influential composers in 20th-century art music. Cage wrote compositions for traditional classical instruments and unusual sound-producing devices not normally thought of as instruments, such as radios. The invention of sound recording and the ability to edit music on tape gave rise to new subgenre of classical music, including the acousmaticand Musique concrète schools of electronic composition, in which composers made pieces using reel-to-reel tape recorders and electronic equipment.
In 1993, American musicologist Marcia Citron asked "[w]hy is music composed by women so marginal to the standard 'classical' repertoire?"Citron "examines the practices and attitudes that have led to the exclusion of women composers from the received 'canon' of performed musical works." She argues that in the 1800s, women composers typically wrote art songs for performance in small recitals rather than symphonies intended for performance with an orchestra in a large hall, with the latter works being seen as the most important genre for composers; since women composers did not write many symphonies, they were deemed to be not notable as composers.
According to Abbey Philips, "women musicians have had a very difficult time breaking through and getting the credit they deserve."During the Medieval eras, most of the art music was created for liturgical (religious) purposes and due to the views about the roles of women that were held by religious leaders, few women composed this type of music, with the nun Hildegard von Bingen being among the exceptions. Most university textbooks on the history of music discuss almost exclusively the role of male composers. As well, very few works by women composers are part of the standard repertoire of classical music. In Concise Oxford History of Music, Clara Schumann is the only woman composer that is mentioned. Philips states that "[d]uring the 20th century the women who were composing/playing gained far less attention than their male counterparts."
Women today are being taken more seriously in the realm of concert music, though the statistics of recognition, prizes, employment, and overall opportunities are still biased toward men.
Famous composers have a tendency to cluster in certain cities throughout history. Based on over 12,000 prominent composers listed in Grove Music Online and using word count measurement techniques, the most important cities for classical music can be quantitatively identified.
Paris has been the main hub for classical music in all periods. It was ranked fifth in the 15th and 16th centuries but first in the 17th to 20th centuries inclusive. London was the second most meaningful city: eighth in the 15th century, seventh in the 16th, fifth in the 17th, second in the 18th and 19th centuries, and fourth in the 20th century. Rome topped the rankings in the 15th century, dropped to second in the 16th and 17th centuries, eighth in the 18th century, ninth in the 19th century but back at sixth in the 20th century. Berlin appears in the top ten ranking only in the 18th century, and was ranked third most important city in both the 19th and 20th centuries. New York City entered the rankings in the 19th century (at fifth place) and stood at second rank in the 20th century. The patterns are very similar for a sample of 522 top composers.
Professional classical composers often have a background in performing classical music during their childhood and teens, either as a singer in a choir, as a player in a youth orchestra, or as a performer on a solo instrument (e.g., piano, pipe organ, or violin). Teens aspiring to be composers can continue their postsecondary studies in a variety of formal training settings, including colleges, conservatories, and universities. Conservatories, which are the standard musical training system in France and in Quebec (Canada) provide lessons and amateur orchestral and choral singing experience for composition students. Universities offer a range of composition programs, including bachelor's degrees, Master of Music degrees, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. As well, there are a variety of other training programs such as classical summer camps and festivals, which give students the opportunity to get coaching from composers.
Bachelor's degrees in composition (referred to as B.Mus. or B.M) are four-year programs that include individual composition lessons, amateur orchestra/choral experience, and a sequence of courses in music history, music theory, and liberal arts courses (e.g., English literature), which give the student a more well-rounded education. Usually, composition students must complete significant pieces or songs before graduating. Not all composers hold a B.Mus. in composition; composers may also hold a B.Mus. in music performance or music theory.
Master of music degrees (M.mus.) in composition consist of private lessons with a composition professor, ensemble experience, and graduate courses in music history and music theory, along with one or two concerts featuring the composition student's pieces. A Master's degree in music (referred to as an M.Mus. or M.M.) is often a required minimum credential for people who wish to teach composition at a university or conservatory. A composer with an M.Mus. could be an adjunct professor or instructor at a university, but it would be difficult in the 2010s to obtain a tenure track professor position with this degree.
To become a tenure track professor, many universities require a doctoral degree. In composition, the key doctoral degree is the Doctor of Musical Arts, rather than the PhD; the PhD is awarded in music, but typically for subjects such as musicology and music theory.
Doctor of Musical Arts (referred to as D.M.A., DMA, D.Mus.A. or A.Mus.D) degrees in composition provide an opportunity for advanced study at the highest artistic and pedagogical level, requiring usually an additional 54+ credit hours beyond a master's degree (which is about 30+ credits beyond a bachelor's degree). For this reason, admission is highly selective. Students must submit examples of their compositions. If available, some schools will also accept video or audio recordings of performances of the student's pieces. Examinations in music history, music theory, ear training/dictation, and an entrance examination are required.
Students must prepare significant compositions under the guidance of faculty composition professors. Some schools require DMA composition students to present concerts of their works, which are typically performed by singers or musicians from the school. The completion of advanced coursework and a minimum B average are other typical requirements of a D.M.A program. During a D.M.A. program, a composition student may get experience teaching undergraduate music students.
Some classical composers did not complete composition programs, but focused their studies on performance of voice or an instrument or on music theory, and developed their compositional skills over the course of a career in another musical occupation.
During the Middle Ages, most composers worked for the Catholic church and composed music for religious services such as plainchant melodies. During the Renaissance music era, composers typically worked for aristocratic employers. While aristocrats typically required composers to produce a significant amount of religious music, such as Masses, composers also penned many non-religious songs on the topic of courtly love: the respectful, reverential love of a great woman from afar. Courtly love songs were very popular during the Renaissance era. During the Baroque music era, many composers were employed by aristocrats or as church employees. During the Classical period, composers began to organize more public concerts for profit, which helped composers to be less dependent on aristocratic or church jobs. This trend continued in the Romantic music era in the 19th century. In the 20th century, composers began to seek employment as professors in universities and conservatories. In the 20th century, composers also earned money from the sales of their works, such sheet music publications of their songs or pieces or as sound recordings of their works.
The Classical period was an era of classical music between roughly 1730 and 1820.
Figured bass, or thoroughbass, is a kind of musical notation in which numerals and symbols indicate intervals, chords, and non-chord tones that a musician playing piano, harpsichord, organ, lute play in relation to the bass note that these numbers and symbols appear above or below. Figured bass is closely associated with basso continuo, a historically improvised accompaniment used in almost all genres of music in the Baroque period of Classical music (c.1600–1750), though rarely in modern music.
An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which combines instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass, brass instruments such as the horn, trumpet, trombone and tuba, woodwinds such as the flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, and percussion instruments such as the timpani, bass drum, triangle, snare drum, cymbals, and mallet percussion instruments each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments.
Sonata form is a musical structure consisting of three main sections: an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation. It has been used widely since the middle of the 18th century.
Music is found in every known culture, past and present, varying widely between times and places. Since all people of the world, including the most isolated tribal groups, have a form of music, it may be concluded that music is likely to have been present in the ancestral population prior to the dispersal of humans around the world. Consequently, the first music may have been invented in Africa and then evolved to become a fundamental constituent of human life.
Sheet music is a handwritten or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols to indicate the pitches (melodies), rhythms or chords of a song or instrumental musical piece. Like its analogs – printed books or pamphlets in English, Arabic or other languages – the medium of sheet music typically is paper, although the access to musical notation since the 1980s has included the presentation of musical notation on computer screens and the development of scorewriter computer programs that can notate a song or piece electronically, and, in some cases, "play back" the notated music using a synthesizer or virtual instruments.
Carnatic music, Karnāṭaka saṃgīta, or Karnāṭaka saṅgītam, is a system of music commonly associated with southern India, including the modern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, as well as Sri Lanka. It is one of two main subgenres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions, the other subgenre being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form because of Persian or Islamic influences from Northern India. The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style.
Recitative is a style of delivery in which a singer is allowed to adopt the rhythms of ordinary speech. Recitative does not repeat lines as formally composed songs do. It resembles sung ordinary speech more than a formal musical composition.
A piano concerto is a type of concerto, a solo composition in the Classical music genre which is composed for a piano player, which is typically accompanied by an orchestra or other large ensemble. Piano concertos are typically virtuoso showpieces which require an advanced level of technique on the instrument, including melodic lines interspersed with rapid scales, arpeggios, chords, complex contrapuntal parts and other challenging material. When piano concertos are performed by a professional concert pianist, a large grand piano is almost always used, as the grand piano has a fuller tone and more projection than an upright piano. Piano concertos are typically written out in music notation, including sheet music for the pianist, orchestra parts for the orchestra members, and a full score for the conductor, who leads the orchestra in the accompaniment of the soloist.
The Master of Music is, as an academic title, the first graduate degree in Music awarded by universities and conservatories. The M.M. combines advanced studies in an applied area of specialization with graduate-level academic study in subjects such as music history, music theory, or music pedagogy. The degree, which takes one or two years of full-time study to complete, prepares students to be professional performers, conductors, and composers, according to their area of specialization. The M.M. is often required as the minimum teaching credential for university, college, and conservatory instrumental or vocal teaching positions.
Cyclic form is a technique of musical construction, involving multiple sections or movements, in which a theme, melody, or thematic material occurs in more than one movement as a unifying device. Sometimes a theme may occur at the beginning and end ; other times a theme occurs in a different guise in every part.
Sonata form is one of the most influential ideas in the history of Western classical music. Since the establishment of the practice by composers like C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert and the codification of this practice into teaching and theory, the practice of writing works in sonata form has changed considerably.
French classical music began with the sacred music of the Roman Catholic Church, with written records predating the reign of Charlemagne. It includes all of the major genres of sacred and secular, instrumental and vocal music. French classical styles often have an identifiably national character, ranging from the clarity and precision of the music of the late Renaissance music to the sensitive and emotional Impressionistic styles of the early 20th century. Important French composers include Pérotin, Machaut, Dufay, Josquin des Prez, Lully, Charpentier, Couperin, Rameau, Leclair, Grétry, Méhul, Auber, Berlioz, Alkan, Gounod, Offenbach, Franck, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Delibes, Bizet, Chabrier, Massenet, Widor, Fauré, d'Indy, Chausson, Debussy, Dukas, Louis Vierne, Duruflé, Satie, Roussel, Hahn, Ravel, Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc, Auric, Messiaen, Françaix, Dupré, Dutilleux, Boulez, Guillou, Grisey, and Murail.
The organ repertoire is among the largest for any solo musical instrument. Because of the organ's prominence in worship in Western Europe from the Middle Ages on, a significant portion of organ repertoire is sacred in nature. The organ's suitability for improvisation by a single performer is well adapted to this liturgical role and has allowed many blind organists to achieve fame; it also accounts for the relatively late emergence of written compositions for the instrument in the Renaissance. Although instruments are still disallowed in most Eastern churches, organs have found their way into a few synagogues as well as secular venues where organ recitals take place.
Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820, this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.
To a greater extent than most other instruments and ensembles, it is difficult to compose music for the guitar without either proficiency in the instrument or close collaboration with a guitarist. As a result, a large part of the guitar repertoire consists of works by guitarists who did not compose extensively for other instruments. Music prior to the classical era was often composed for performance on various combinations of instruments, and could be adapted by the performer to keyboard instruments, the lute, or the guitar. Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, a significant amount of music has been written for the guitar by non-guitarist composers.
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