Baroque Vs. Classical Music Although Music From Essay
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Baroque vs. Classical Music
Although music from the 17th, 18th, and 19th century is all often grouped under the designation of 'classical' music today, the Baroque and the Classical periods have distinctive features and stylization that are immediately apparent when listening to the great composers of both eras. When listening to a Baroque work, the contrast between different 'movements' is quite notable. The celebratory Baroque work Handel's Water Music, for example, has three distinct sections, with sharp breaks between the different suites. Each movement reflects a particular tone and musical atmosphere, followed by another movement with a very distinct, contrasting sound. In contrast, Classical composers "did not restrict themselves to the 'terraced' dynamics (abrupt shifts from loud to soft) characteristic of Baroque music" (Characteristics of Classical Music, 2011, Music Learning Center). Classical composers wanted to portray a full expression of human emotions, rather than simply create a mood.
During the Baroque era, there was a widespread tendency to use 'monothematic' compositions, in the sense that every section reflected a specific theme in a fairly singular fashion. In contrast, in Classical music, shifts in tone and mood could happen throughout the piece. "Great variety and contrast of mood received new emphasis in Classical music. Classical compositions will fluctuate
in mood. Dramatic, turbulent music might lead into a carefree dance tune" (Characteristics of Classical Music, 2011, Music Learning Center).
Baroque melodies exhibited polyphonic structures, in contrast to music of the Classical era, which was primarily monophonic. Classical music tended to have more 'hummable' melodies and make use of melodies from popular music, such as Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" from his Ninth Symphony. Baroque music 'decorated' elaborate melodies. This is where the label 'Baroque' came from, in contrast to the freer yet more linear Classical style. Beethoven's famous 'da-da-DUM' of his Fifth Symphony is a good example of a theme which is almost impossible to get out of a listener's head. Baroque melodies and stylization are less symmetrical and more elaborate than Classical melodies (Characteristics of Classical Music, 2011, Music Learning Center).
The Ninth Symphony also reflects notable differences in dynamics than would be used in a Baroque piece. Baroque music tended to be either loud or soft, with very little rising or falling sound between the two different tones. Classical music made use of extensive building and falling levels of noise. Dynamics instructions like the crescendo and decrescendo that predominate in the Ninth Symphony first came into common use during the Classical era. The use of dynamics is also why, despite its monophonic nature, Classical music…
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