Medieval era - fall of western Roman empire to about 1400
Renaissance (music era, not the Renaissance per se) - 1400 to 1600
Baroque - 1600 to 1750
Classical - 1750s to approx 1820
Romantic era - roughly 1820 to early 20th century
Does that sound about right?
For someone who is justing starting out exploring classical music, this is about right as an initial guide. The dates are pretty arbitrary for all eras (1750 might coincide with the death of J.S. Bach but it's not the exact point at which everyone put away their harpsichords for good and started writing everything in sonata form).
Still, to start with it can be quite useful to think about common features for the different "eras" - and then break this down further to think about the development of different genres within these eras, or how things developed in different geographic locations. And then who broke the conventions of the time, and who got away with it...
Some basic things to consider when listening:
-What is the purpose of the music? Is it religious music? Popular song? Something for the concert hall? Or for the home? Dance music? Part of a show?
-What instrumentation is used?
-If it is vocal music, what language is it being sung in? (see, this is relevant to the board!)
-What about the melody? Is it based on a modal scale, tonal major or minor scales, or something a bit more whacky? How many different melody lines can you hear at once?
-And the harmony? How consonant or dissonant is it? Does it generally go in a predictable direction, or does it suprise you?
-What is the form of the piece? Which bits get repeated, and when? Are things changed somehow when they are repeated (e.g. faster/slower, higher/lower, different instrumentation, different rhythm)
aokoye wrote:I think that there is something to someone who is explicitly trying to learn about classical music listening to to the original versions of pieces if at all possible, perhaps paired with a different commonly performed arrangement. So the original version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and then the symphonic version, which is despite the fact that I prefer the symphonic version.
Is that the Ravel orchestration? Back in the day I learned so much about the skill of orchestration from comparing the original Pictures at an Exhibition to Ravel's orchestration - and it helped sharpen my appreciation for Ravel as a composer too (anyone who stopped at the Bolero is missing out, big time).
aokoye wrote:While Prokofiev did write a flute sonata, it was only the one.
He only needed to write the one - when it comes to the solo flute repertoire, I don't think anyone has bettered it