As Theodor Adorno had stated, Art is autonomous and it is not. Music is said to intervene in the non-musical sphere and affect it with its essence (Adorno 2013). With the rise of the idea of absolute music in the nineteenth century, this belief was imposed. There also existed a notion, that music does not just symbolise emotions, it also denotes and expresses the stream of experiences that are within those sentiments.
Rationale behind choosing this period:
This period has been chosen for analysis because this period has a lot of elaborate and highly embellished musical forms. It was the period where the counterpoint technique was popularised, and the different forms of music, such as concerto and sonata all developed during this period.
History and evolution:
The term Baroque comes from the Portuguese word barraco, which means rough or imperfect pearl. However, there is uncertainty as to from where the word had entered, as mention can be made of the Spanish barrueco, the German Barock, and the Dutch Barok.
This artistic style began in Rome around 1600 and later spread to the other parts of Europe, continuing till around 1750. The art of this period is said to be exaggerated, with detailed ornamentation, like the compositions of Bach or Handel. Previously, the word baroque was used to lend a derogatory tone to any piece of art, but in the present world, baroque represents that period in history which richly diverse in the context of its music (Baroque.org 2017).
The evolution of the counterpoint was noteworthy, and the detailing of the harmony gained considerable emphasis. Counterpoint is when two or more separate lines of music are played at the same time, one note against the other. This was a very prominent characteristic feature of Bach’s music. The focus of the opera shifted to the aria from the recitative, and contrast also gained importance, especially in the chorus and solo voices as well as the orchestra of the Church. The concerto grosso, the suite and the sonata forms developed during this period, and this is perceivable in the music of Bach, Vivaldi and Handel (Kaltwasser 2015).
The trend of writing a piece of music in one particular key or tone still goes on, and this was developed in the Baroque period. The concerts of this era had a basso continuo group that had harpsichordists with lute players, and it was expected that the musicians were expert devisers of both solo and accompaniment parts. The group would also have bass instrument players, namely the cello and the viola da gamba.
The pieces written were mostly suited for dance suites, and new techniques of playing were worked on. The music became highly elaborate and ornamented, and the figured bass technique was developed. As discussed by Bukofzer (2013), there was an expansion in the number, range and intricacy of the performances, and the musical genres of opera, cantata and oratorio were established, in the Middle Baroque Period (1630-1680). The music composed was largely polyphonic, with numerous individual sets being played at the same time, like in the fugue technique. The tritone was seen as being an unstable interval as it was used in the creation of dissonance, and harmonic progressions sparked the interest of the composers, which was present in a few of the preceding Renaissance period composers as well.
The Late Baroque Period (1680-1730) produced the works of Handel, Bach, Vivaldi and their contemporaries. Johann Fux was the one person who made polyphony the area of interest for the later compositions and musical periods (Bukofzer 2013). On the other hand, Handel regularly ‘borrowed’ compositions from other musicians, and reused his own as well. One of his most famous pieces was Messiah which was released in 1742.
Reason for choosing this period:
The Classical music period has been chosen for analysis here, because it is the age when some of the most dignified and notable musicians gained fame, along with the popularisation of chamber music. The luxury of music was restricted only to the monarchy and the upper classes, and the commoners had little or no chances at cultural enrichment.
History and evolution:
This period of music is right in between the Baroque and the Romantic periods, spanning from 1730 to 1820. The word classical is however used even now to denote the Western styles, and the music was not as ornamented as in the baroque period. Instead, the style was elegantly dignified while being serious and grandiose at the same time (Burkholder and Donald 2014). There was an increase in the size and influence of the orchestra, and the musical pieces started having increased and improved variety as compared to the earlier ages. The fortepiano came as a replacement for the harpsichord, which allowed the musicians to be able to play the notes the way they wanted, and the instrumental form was extremely important for the classical musicians. The sonata, string quartet, symphony, trio, and the solo concerto were the main techniques. Schubert’s work on vocal music was also an important development of this era.
Mention should be made here of possibly the most famous and important of classical music composers –– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. The other noteworthy composers include Emanuel Bach, Muzio Clementi, and Joseph Haydn
(Park et al. 2015). Beethoven was, however, more of a transitional artist, composing his art at the end of the classical period and continuing into the Romantic era. Classical music was largely associated with the aristocrats, and was patronised by the Court or the monarchy. The main point of contrast between the music of the baroque and the classical periods was the lack of complexity and ornamentation in the latter. Its texture was much lighter, with a clear melody along with the incorporation of the style gallant.
The classical period was one of structural clarity; Newton had just formulated his three laws and it was seen as a paradigm, and thus the need for properly articulated philosophies or ideas grew (Singer 2013). The polyphony that was prevalent in the Baroque period was replaced by the classical homophony, which contributed to chords gaining an important part in the composition of music, regardless of the interference it brought about in the melodic smoothness.
This change in the style of music was influenced by the shifts in the economy as well as the societal structure. With the progress of the 18th century, chamber music became increasingly important, as the royalty were the primary patronisers of music. The continuo lost significance, and its bass counterpart became almost extinct, with only the pipe organ being still in use at religious Masses during the early 1800s. The music of the baroque era barely had any dynamics, in contrast with the classical period, which had phrasing as well. The concerto gained importance primarily due to Haydn and Mozart, a style which featured a solo artist with an accompanying orchestra.
Rationale behind choosing this period:
The Romantic Period was perhaps the first era where music was associated closely with emotions. Also, the people who were exposed to music also changed and the audience grew in size, encompassing all sections of the society and not just the royalty.
History and evolution:
The Romantic period in the history of Western music is closely related to the European Romantic movement that started in the 18th century. Germany was the country that saw the maximum domination of the Romantic era of music (Dickey 2015). This period was one where the scope of music became more sentimental and thoughtful, crossing over several themes of philosophy and literature. The orchestra increased even more in size, and so did the range of the instruments that were used. The audience also changed; there were more people from the middle and upper-middle classes of the society who came forward and enjoyed the performances; previously, the concerts were paid for and arranged mainly by the royalty. Some of the notable musicians of that period were Johann Strauss II, Wagner, Richard Strauss and Rachmaninoff. Some of them even composed much more complex and longer pieces.
The Romantic Movement was basically the reaction to the Industrial Revolution (Benchimol 2016). Its effect was seen most strongly in the literary forms and in art, and also in music around 1789. Beethoven published his Fifth Symphony in 1810, which was reviewed by Hoffmann and out came the musical romanticism principles (Ringer 2016). His writings, along with many others provided the impetus for bringing Romanticism into the German music scene.
Music is affected by the changes pertaining to society, and also by historical events. The Industrial Revolution brought about a change as well, as the mechanical valves were improvised, and there were newer and better instruments to be played. The rise of the middle class was also a significant factor, as the Romantic musicians composed pieces for all occasions and not just for the royalty. There was no discrimination between the tastes of music, as they composed even for those who had limited or no knowledge of music. They believed that music was not to be restricted to just one particular section of society, and that the sole idea of composing was to make the musical piece heard (Davies 2014).
One of the most noteworthy composers of the late Romantic period was Sergei Rachmaninoff, a Russian pianist. Like, Mozart, he was a child prodigy, playing on his piano from the tender age of four. His notable compositions include Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Symphonic Dances and his numerous symphonies (Norris 2014). His technique was faultless and precise, with the implementation of staccato. He was said to possess exceptionally large hands, which were beneficial in guiding him through the most complex and difficult of chords. Arthur Rubinstein branded his tone as golden and living, with an irresistible gloriousness and charm (Von Riesemann 2015). His powerful memory was an added bonus as he could hear any composition one day and play it back the next without any hindrance.
Reason for choosing this period:
This period has been chosen as there is a lot of controversial music, especially in the post-modern era. Also, the focus of music shifted to its physicality in this period, and there was no one genre that was able to gain specific importance in this age (Su et al. 2014).
History and evolution:
The word that is mostly attributed to modernism is ‘innovation’ (Anderson 2016). This era was one that challenged and modified the older genres of music, with the composers interpreting the already existing renditions in their own way. There came up newer and more innovative ways of constructing and dealing with the various aspects of music such as harmony, melody and rhythm. According to Edward Campbell, modern music is not a static identity; it has been shaped and developed for the past many years both by the classical virtues and historical developments, and although the idea of innovation is not a new concept to music, it is one of the primary values fundamental to modernist art (Smith 2015).
Modernism is also defined by Eero Tarasti as the dismissal of the traditional techniques of tonality, with incorporation of newer and more innovative models, such as atonalism or polytonalism (Sobaskie 2016). Daniel Albright comments that modernism is music is like experimenting the boundaries of creativity (Yamasaki 2015), and stipulates a list of modernist techniques, namely expressionism, hyperrealism, new objectivity, abstractionism, neoclassicism, neobarbarism, futurism and the mythic method.
The term modernism is highly debatable; some believe that the modern era lasted from 1890-1930, calling the developments after 1930 post-modern. On the other hand, others believe that modernism is dependent on the outlook of the composers, not any historical period.
Jazz is one of the music genres that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It originated among the African Americans, and was derived from the ragtime and blues genres (Kirschbaum 2015). It has since undergone several changes in style and expression due to the influence of many other cultures. With several subgenres, jazz has no appropriate definition.
Mention should perhaps be made here of the popular genres of music. Rock and roll music originated in the United States during the 1950s, and from that developed the rock music genre. Rock and roll was based on country music and also on rhythm and blues, and was the foundation for the evolution of the rock genre (Lu and Akred 2014). The best known artist is probably Elvis Presley, who was also called the King of Rock and Roll.
A typical rock music composition has an electric guitar as its focal point, with accompanying drums, electric and bass guitars, and vocal artists. Notable bands include Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, the Beatles, Deep Purple and AC/DC. Psychedelic rock bands like the Doors, Psychotic Reaction, Pink Floyd and Radiohead dominated the second half of the 20th century.
Over time, rock has evolved a lot, and given rise to a diverse and varied range of subgenres, some of which are punk rock, hard rock, new wave, alternative rock and progressive rock. Post grunge rock is a subgenre with its stylistic origins in alternative rock and hard rock along with the aesthetic elements of grunge music (Strong 2013). Bands like Nickelback, Seether and the Foo Fighters belong to this genre.
Rock music gave rise to the diverse subgenre of heavy metal, which is characterised by exaggerated volume, speed and power. Perhaps the most fundamental element in identifying metal music is in its use of distortions which are heavily amplified, long guitar solos or shreds, and blast drumming (Brown 2015). In popular culture, metal is often affiliated with aggression because of its predominant use of screaming or growling vocals and down-tuned guitars in its subgenres such as metalcore (City in the Sea, Asking Alexandria), deathcore (Xerath, Emmure), black metal (Behemoth), and thrash metal (Slayer). Power metal (Dragonforce), however, deploys clean vocals. The 21st century also saw the fusion of other genres with metal, and Nu metal was born –– Attila is one such band which fuses rap into the metal scenes. The birth of djent is also noteworthy; it is a subgenre of progressive metal which uses palm-muted chords. This technique was popularised by Meshuggah, and as of now, many bands such as Periphery and TesseracT employ similar styles.
A comparison between the Baroque, Classical and Modern periods
The Baroque period saw the use of instruments like the harpsichord, and other stringed instruments. They had more freedom when it came to the style of their composition, and could focus on improvisation as well. This provided the artists to arrange for the solo performances, and thus the opera style was explored in great detail. Their music was however composed in one mood only, and the recurring rhythm was ABACABA. The Classical period saw the invention of the sonata, and the piano dominated the scene –– it was the main instrument used, not the harpsichord. The rules were far stricter when it came to the composition of music, and could therefore make little or no improvisations. The dominant rondo style was ABA or ABACA. Also, two moods were set by the musicians; it was related either to lyricism or to pace.
There were not much sentiments associated with the Baroque or Classical music; Romantic music on the other hand incorporated a lot of emotions and expressions. Solo instruments were developed and the orchestra also grew in size in this period. The harmonies had a more complex sound to them, and the chords were more colourful.
Similarities may be drawn, however, between baroque and rock music. This is because of the use of harmonic progressions, and complex patterns of melody and structural frameworks in rock music. The strong, regular beats and the harmony between several of them are just like the counterpoint of the Baroque music. The emotional aspect of classical music in it the instruments that are being played, while the emotions of the modern period are in its lyrics.
Understanding autonomous art
In simple words, a composer is the person who creates or puts together a composition or a piece of music. The musical composition could be either instrumental or vocal. A whole array of instruments is available for the composition of music, such as the piano forte, or the violin. In terms of Western classical music, artists who have created or composed melodies and symphonies and have actively participated in the contribution to the richness of music can be said to be composers (Scirea et al. 2016).
A composer typically writes music in the sheet music form, that is, with the use of musical notations. Most composers are experienced in stage performances as well, like Beethoven and Mozart. A composer needs to be well-versed in the different elements of music to be able to create a commendable composition. In the modern era, artists who write new songs are usually called songwriters.
In the Baroque period, the range and intricacy of music that the composers were exploring were vast and ever-expanding. They even drew from the ancient Greek compositions to write operas; they also developed the contrapuntal music during this age. The composers needed to have a detailed knowledge regarding the theories of music, as contrapuntal involved numerous separate lines of music played or sung together at the same time. They used instruments like the harpsichord, clavichord and pipe organ. The concerto form that was developed during this era continued to evolve in the later eras, along with the fugue, sonata and invention. The compositions were polyphonic by nature, and had detailed ornamentations.
In the words of Immanuel Kant, instrumental music was a beautiful but superficial entity, and he preferred songs and the opera over it (Schalow and Velkley 2014). The Romantic age saw some of the composers arguing about the expressive capacity of music, saying that music should be expressive in terms of ideas, emotions and even images, which challenged Kant’s theories regarding it. However, they did accept that the capacity of instrumental music for representation. The modernists labelled music as pure, as they believed that music did not represent anything other than their own selves. This feud between the artists and the critics was simple a continuation of the argument on the autonomous nature of music (Kupers, van Dijk and van Geert 2017).
In the industry of music, performers are those musicians who perform at a concert or a show in front of the audience. They may take the stage solo, or be involved with an orchestra, or be among the backup singers. A performer can arrange for other musicians and dancers to accompany them, or choose to perform alone. They may also write their own music (Sessions 2015).
A performer specialises in one or more styles of music, and they can not only perform but may also conduct, compose, sing, and arrange for the orchestra. In the Medieval Ages, the performers played soft music indoors, and the louder instruments were reserved for outdoor performances. Most of the musicians were affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church at that time, and had to perform for Masses from the church texts and also for Gregorian chants (Wright 2014). The same was the case for the Renaissance musicians; the music they composed was suitable for playing in church masses and chapels. The songs were usually in Latin, and were characterised by polyphony –– there were separate melodies being played at the same time. After the segregation of the church, the patronage of the performers was divided between the Catholic and the Protestant Churches, and also among the courts, amateurs and music publishers, and this gave more income opportunities for them.
In the Baroque period, the music was characterised by exaggerated use of the counterpoint and the basso continuo techniques. There was increased emphasis on the use of instruments as compared to the Renaissance period, and the pace and texture of each composition was stressed upon. Notable performers from that era include Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi.
During the musical age of Mozart and Beethoven, the middle class was gaining importance and status; they had lived under the monarchy for a long time. The performance areas were much more uneasy and restricted than the Baroque era.
The Romantic period brought with it a surge of upheavals, changes and revolutions in the social, political and economical spheres. The heart of Romanticism was constituted by revolutionary zeal, as it was nothing but a reaction against the Industrial Revolution. English poetry was at its peak point of development, and so was the music which was then associated with sentimentality and expressionism. Notable performers include Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner and Johann Strauss II.
The performers of the 20th century rebuffed the sentimental ideas of Romanticism, and emphasised on concrete things and physicality. Audio recording was invented and the music industry saw a rise in the development of all kinds of music.
Music audiences have long been neglected as being an active part of performances, and there are very less aspects left to explore regarding the observational studies that take into consideration the point of view of the audiences and their experiences. In the words of Mark Duffet, musicians need to pay attention to the audience and should have the capacity to understand their tastes and preferences and what appeals to them (Duffett 2013). Autonomy is art limits this, as it is a concept that restricts the understanding of the work of art to only the artists themselves.
In the Baroque and Classical Ages, the audience for the music were mainly the royalty. The concept of chamber music was in practice, and many composers flourished under the patronage of the monarchies. The incorporation of emotions into music and the access to art in the Romantic age was a big change for the audiences of that time. With the advent of the technological facilities in the modern era, the audiences have been largely influenced, and newer frameworks for distribution, communication and production of music have been adopted.
The definition of music
The concept of music itself is a paradox; it has its own unique way of operation, and its medium is one of mysticism. Music is expressive, and even though one may not always understand what it means, it does not mean that it has lost its significance. There are compositions which may denote particular objects, like in the case of Beethoven’s sixth symphony, which relates to birds. Kant has stated that our perception regarding any object of beauty is devoid of discernible content. According to him, if someone perceives any particular object as beautiful, that person will expect a similar judgement from the other people as well. Subotnik has argued, that music should be such that any listener can understand and decipher its meaning without having had any previous formal training (Subotnik et al. 2016).
The argument over abstract art or music is forever a matter of debate, and Berger stated that abstract art is only representational, or should be considered as that. This is because most people who view or enjoy art, or music, do not have the sufficient knowledge to actually interpret it or break it down and decipher it in a detailed one. Music should, therefore, be such that everyone is able to translate it and bask in its beauty.
Rationale behind autonomous art
Autonomy in art meant that only the composer could understand the true and actual meaning of the composition. The scope of interpretation and inquiry becomes limited when art is conceptualised as an autonomous entity. Autonomous art rose solely due to the need for aestheticism. As argued by Berry (2015), authentic artworks today ought to, and do, renounce all the norms and standards of artistic perfection, all the positive aesthetic values of the tradition of autonomous art. Art becomes entertainment when people engage in it in their leisure time, and that now includes some ‘cultural goods which are made from materials and forms of traditional autonomous art. The artistic price to be paid for such a success is also equally high –– not only the rejection of communication and the willed absence of any settled supporting audience but also the analysis of the aesthetic values and classifications that defined autonomous art, and thereby expression and meaning (Senftleben 2014).
Art has become independent from other institutions in bourgeois society. The autonomy of art has always been relative to bourgeois society as a whole. The function of these works has been somewhat particular to art –– maintaining an image of humanity, satisfying aesthetic contemplation, or undermining the autonomy of art. Autonomous art both affirms and criticizes the society to which it belongs. The art itself has external pressures and developments; this art has become problematic in advanced capitalist societies. Autonomous art, by virtue of its autonomy, has a special significance.
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