Music history is almost as fun as making music. Besides, knowing where the music itself came from is a wise decision to be able to predict where it’s headed to. Therefore, musical eras is one of those topics which music enthusiasts should take a good look at.
As musiconline, we would like to help dear music enthusiasts and simplify this quite complex topic as much as we can.
Each and every culture has its own definition of ‘beauty’, ‘aesthetics’ and ‘art’ – hence their taste in music differs as well. But when the term “Musical Eras” is thrown around, it generally refers to European Classical Music.
There’s no specific reason for such thing, just historians spent more time with European music for classification.
Speaking of classification… No matter how precise one work, it is nearly impossible to separate musical eras with clear, clean lines. What generally comes into mind when speaking of musical eras is a timeline, divided by strict lines whereas visualizing a spectrum is more helpful.
Medieval (500 – 1400)
Fundamental features of music – like music theory, rhythm and notation is developed through the medieval era. Up until these concepts are fully grasped, improvisation was the thing for European music.
Shaped by the humanist movement, Renaissance is an era in which almost every form of the art benefited from. With the invention of printing press in 1439, printing and distribution of musical notes became easier.
Early Renaissance is mainly dominated by English and Dutch composers.
Especially Johannes Ockeghem and Jacob Obrecht became well-known for their canons and contributions for music.
Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Jean-Baptiste Lully and more… Baroque is the address when you’re looking for those cool, famous composers.
Baroque is known for its complex sound and different new terms like opera, oratorio, concerto and sonat. Musicians are also known for their creativity and discovery of new playing styles.
Classical era compositions stands out with their simplicity compared to Baroque. It is also important that piano first came into play instead of hapsicord during Classical time.
Classical music is highly inspired by the philosophy of Classicism – which has the fundamentals of simplicity and order.
Well known Classical music composers are Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach and Joseph Haydn. Haydn especially has a different place in this era since he shaped the chamber music as we know it.
One important and interesting common thing between these names is, they spent most of their lives in Vienna.
In this era where emotions are expressed dramatically and in a brave manner, German composers is known to be a bit more stand-out than the others. Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Ludwig van Beethoven and the top German composers of Romantic era.
Although some musicologists consider Beethoven as an artist of Classical era, he has many pieces that shows the characteristics of Romantic era as well – remember what we said, we can’t strictly separate musical eras!
Subjects like bravery, patriotism, love and nature was the main focus on Romantic era.
20th Century (1900-2000)
This is the time where humans started using phonograph records and listening to radios and music became more and more easy to access for both producers and consumers. Besides, technological advancements lowered the costs of distributing music and this made a huge impact on the artist image.
Musical genres like jazz, rock and hip hop emerged, the shift from analog to digital and new tools like synthesizers, drum machines and production tools led electronic music to exist.
Long story short
Each and every musical era is unique in its own way and valuable in terms of both culture and music. Many things changed but one thing is certain: music becoming more and more accessible by people.
Thanks to the internet, music education became easier as well! With musiconline, all you have to do is to have your computer and an internet connection. As long as you have these two, you can learn music online anywhere, any time.