MUSIC - WEEK BEGINNING 18TH MAY
Hello again everyone! I hope you have had a good week and continue to be happy, healthy and busy. We have only got two more musical periods to cover and this week it is the ROMANTIC PERIOD which dates from 1820 to around 1900.
By the Romantic Period the orchestra had become very large and had a wider range of brass instruments (tuba), woodwind instruments (piccolo and bass clarinet) and percussion instruments than in the earlier periods. This meant that music could be more expressive and reflect human emotions in greater depth as it followed the strong romantic influences of literature and art. Famous writers and poets such as Edgar Alan Poe, Elisabeth Barrett-Browning, Thomas Hardy, Lord Byron and Alfred Tennyson were very influential at this time. By the end of the 18th century writers, painters and philosophers had begun to explore new ways of expressing emotion and these romantic ideals were quickly adopted by composers. Their music began to describe feelings and moods, pictures and stories, mystery and adventure. Writing music became much less structured and more free as it was no longer necessary to follow the strict rules and rigid structures of the Classical period, such as sonata form. Music was now given titles that described the 'picture' or 'story' the composer was trying to create, and programme notes were provided at concerts for audiences, telling them the stories being told in the music - just as we have today.
Public concerts and musical evenings (soirees) in the home became an important part of the social life of the middle classes. Whilst composers before this time had been employed by wealthy patrons, the church or the royal courts, this was no longer necessary. Composers were able to make a good living from performing in concerts, having their music published and distributed, and by teaching. As music making in the home also grew in importance, the need for highly skilled performers also increased, along with the need for expert teaching. Music in the home consisted of songs, piano pieces, other solo instruments and chamber music (music for a small group of instruments). At this time the piano became an extremely important instrument and a lot of 'romantic' music was written for it. With industrialisation also came greater wealth, and so more people were able to afford to have pianos in their homes. Whilst brilliant performers (known as 'virtuoso' performers) would perform in concert halls, amateur musicians enjoyed the large amount of music that became available, performing regularly in soirees at home.
Dancing was also very important at this time and the waltz and polka were new dances that became so popular that composers wrote dance music in these styles not only for the ballroom but also for concert halls.
I am providing a link below to two pieces of music written by composers of the Romantic Period. The first is by the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt (1811-1886) who wrote a lot of music based on the folk music of his native country, Hungary. He was also an outstanding pianist. This piece is called 'Liebestraume' (which means 'Dream of Love') and is performed in this video clip by one of the world's most famous pianists today, Lang Lang. The second piece is by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), who wrote, amongst other music, a lot of ballet music, which was very popular at the time. This is a theme from his ballet 'Swan Lake'. Notice how the music is given very descriptive titles compared to previous periods in music. Listen to the beautiful melodies, which was such an important part of music in the Romantic period. I hope you enjoy this music.
1. Liebestraume by Franz Liszt
2. Theme from the ballet 'Swan Lake' by Tchaikovsky
MUSIC - WEEK BEGINNING 11TH MAY
Hello Year 6! The weeks are going by so fast that I'm losing track of what day of the week it is. It's amazing how different and strange life seems when we're not going to school, seeing our friends and sitting together in class. Hopefully we'll soon be back together again. In the meantime, it's back to work!
This week we are going to learn about the CLASICAL PERIOD which began around 1750 until 1820. As I've mentioned to you before, music development often followed what was happening in art and architecture. At this time building design became much more simple and clearer in structure. It was all about grace and beauty, balanced proportions and very formal structure. Therefore music became much more formal in design too and composers would follow this structure very carefully in their compositions. A form known as Sonata Form developed which was used as the basis for all kinds of music during the CLASSICAL PERIOD for both soloists, small group performances and orchestral works. Many Sonatas were written in the CLASSICAL PERIOD - these are pieces of music for solo instruments. The orchestra expanded in size, particularly in the woodwind family as the clarinet was invented and as well as the orchestra now having a large string section, the woodwind family added to the strength of the orchestra with its combination of flutes, oboes and bassoons. As the orchestra grew there was no longer a need for the harpsichord to play the continuo or accompanying part and it was discontinued. Instead, the Symphony developed, which was a large scale piece of music for the full orchestra, comprising of 3 or 4 contrasting sections, known as movements.
Composers still wrote music for the church but now Opera became more important. Opera is a theatre production that is sung throughout. Although operas were less lavish than they had been in the past. Interesting characters and fascinating plot lines based on human nature became much more popular.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer and pianist at this time who wrote many orchestral symphonies and piano sonatas. He is widely considered to be one of the most admired composers in the history of western music. He wrote 722 works in his life! Sadly Beethoven suffered with hearing loss and gradually went completely deaf. However, he continued to compose and wrote some of his finest works when he was deaf. I have attached a link to his 5th Symphony below, one of his most famous works. Listen to how much more dramatic music became in this period compared to the Baroque orchestra. This is due to the much larger orchestras and wider range of instruments. Watch the video to see how large the orchestra has become.
Another very important composer of the CLASSICAL PERIOD was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). He composed more than 600 works in his short life, including symphonies, operas and concertos (a Concerto is a piece of music written for a solo instrument and accompanied by the orchestra). Here is a link to the first movement of Mozart's Symphony No. 40. Can you hear how the music has been so carefully structured? You may well recognise this work. I hope you enjoy listening to these famous pieces of music this week.
Things to note:
A SONATA is a piece of music written for a solo instrument
A CONCERTO is a piece of music written for a solo instrument but accompanied by the orchestra
A SYMPHONY is a large scale piece of music written for the orchestra
AN OPERA is a theatre production with an interesting storyline and where all the parts are sung.
MUSIC - WEEK BEGINNING THE 4TH MAY
Hello again Year 6. Another week has gone by and I hope you are all staying well and managing to keep yourselves busy and happy! I have been using the time to play the piano more and I've been working on more difficult pieces that I normally wouldn't have time to study. If you are learning an instrument either at school or at home with a private teacher, this is the perfect time to improve your standard by practising a little every day. Keep working hard and you will be able to hear the results as you get better and better at playing. It's very rewarding and very enjoyable too!
Last week I went through the Renaissance period with you and gave you some music to listen to. I hope you have been able to do this and can now remember all the different things we spoke about in class and how music developed through the years.
This week we are going to refresh our memories on the BAROQUE PERIOD which dated from 1600-1750. Music, like architecture and art at the time was elaborately decorated - music became more dramatic and ornate with lots of ornamentation. Music developed a lot at this time. If you remember in the Medieval and Renaissance periods a form of scales and keys called 'modes' were used, which were like using just the white notes on the piano from C-C, D-D etc. But in this period major and minor scales/keys were developed, just like the ones we use today. So from the BAROQUE PERIOD to now music followed this system.
Orchestras developed. They were much smaller than the modern orchestra (called chamber orchestras) and mainly consisted of stringed instruments, although a small number of woodwind and brass instruments were added. The harpsichord, which was a keyboard instrument that was very popular until the development of the piano in the middle of the 1700s, often accompanied the orchestra.
Vocal music, both religious (sacred) and secular (non-religious) grew in popularity. After the Reformation religious music was no longer restricted to Latin words. Composers of church music wrote in their own languages which at last enabled the congregation to understand what was being said or sung about in the church service. Solos, duets and songs for choirs became very popular.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and George Frideric Handel (1685 -1759) are very well known composers of the BAROQUE PERIOD. Both grew up in Germany a few miles from each other, but whilst Bach spent his life working and mainly writing religious music for the church, Handel moved to England and worked and wrote music for the Royal Family (Music for The Royal Fireworks, The Water Music). Another great composer of the time was the Italian composer, Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). He suffered from severe asthma which prevented him from playing any woodwind instruments but he was an outstanding violinist (a virtuoso - this is a term used for a brilliant performer in music). He spent many years working in an orphanage for abandoned children where he taught the violin to young girls there. The boys would learn a trade and would leave the orphanage at the age of 15 to start work. However the girls who achieved high standards on the violin would stay at the orphanage as part of the orchestra, which became famous all over Europe and people would travel to listen to these wonderful performances. The girls would perform behind a curtain (a grille), which added to the mystery and huge interest in their performances.
Here is some music for you to listen to. When you listen to all these pieces, notice how the music keeps flowing with few stops. This is typical of music at the time. Also in the video notice the size of the orchestra, which was typical of the Baroque orchestra at that time, which mainly consisted of stringed instruments. Have a good week everyone. We all miss you!
Handel - The Hornpipe from the Water Music
J.S. Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major - watch the video and notice the typical size of the Baroque orchestra at the time, which mainly consisted of stringed instruments.
Antonio Vivaldi - The Four Seasons - Spring
MUSIC - WEEK BEGINNING APRIL 27TH
Hello everyone in Year 6. I hope you are all keeping well and finding time to enjoy this beautiful sunshine whilst you are at home. I miss being with you all in class, but I hope that this music page helps to remind you of the History of Music and gives you a little time to listen and relax.
Last week I asked you to listen to a piece of music by either the composer Guillaume de Machaut or Hildegard of Bingen from the Medieval Period and to listen to the flow of the music and the instruments used. Music at that time was very simple. It consisted of a single line of melody in church that would be sung by the whole choir in unison. This was called plainchant. Sometimes church music would be accompanied by a drone, a single note that would be played by a hurdy gurdy. There were no big leaps in Medieval music and it flowed with no strong sense of rhythm.
This week I would like you to listen to a piece of music from the Renaissance period (1450-1600). The printing press was developed around 1439 and this made it much easier for music to be distributed to more people. If you remember Renaissance means 're-birth'. It was a time of great change and development in science, art, architecture and medicine. Music notation was becoming more detailed in this period and this meant that composers could now write down their music, create more complex works and then have it printed. Church music consisted of larger choirs than in the Medieval period, with different vocal parts interweaving with each other. This type of music was called polyphony (many voices). Secular (non-religious) music also developed with dance forms growing in popularity. Composers began experimenting with different types of instruments and combinations of voices and one of the main forms of entertainment at this time was music and dance, which became part of everyday life. Church music was still sung in Latin, but secular music was sung in the composer's native language.
This week I would like you to listen to two pieces of music. The first is 'Ave Maria' by the Franco Flemish composer, Josquin des Prez (around 1450-1521) where you can hear the polyphony of voices mixing together sung in Latin. Then listen to the English composer William Byrd (1540-1623) with his secular song "This Sweet and Merry Month of May" sung in English. Notice again how the vocal parts interweave together, a very different sound from Medieval music. However, there is no instrumental accompaniment in either piece, which was typical of that time. I have added the link to both these songs below:
Josquin des Prez - "Ave Maria" link:
William Byrd - "This Sweet and Merry Month of May" link:
Also, if you listen to a piece from 'Dance Music of the Renaissance' on You Tube you will hear how rhythmic Renaissance secular music has become.
Have a good week!
MUSIC - WEEK BEGINNING 20TH APRIL
Hello Everyone. This year we have been learning about the History of Music. If you remember we began by studying the music of Early Man, then the Medieval Period (800-1450A.D.), the Renaissance Period (1450-1600), the Baroque Period (1600-1750), the Classical Period (1750-1820), the Romantic Period (1820-1914) and finally the Modern Period from 1914 to the present day. We learnt that music changed gradually over time, influenced by Art, Architecture, Literature and the development of technology. Although the dates given above indicate when these different changes took place we must remember that the changes didn't happen overnight - they gradually changed as new composers developed music that was influenced by the world around them.
What I would like you to do this week is find out about one composer in the Medieval Period - either Guillaume de Machaut or Hildegard of Bingen and write a paragraph about him or her.
Then I would like you to listen to a piece of music composed by your choice of composer, write down the name of the piece and a few details that you notice about it. Things to listen out for are:
1) The voices - is the music for voices or for an instrument? Is there one voice or many voices?
2) If there are voices are they singing in unison (the same notes) or not? Are they singing in Latin or another language and is the music sacred (religious) or secular (not religious)?
3) Does the music jump around a lot or is the melody smooth flowing and moving in step?
4) If there are voices singing is there any instrumental accompaniment or is the melody sung 'a capella' - no accompaniment.
Keep your writing in a little notebook or folder so that I can look through it when you return to school. Remember it doesn't have to be a long piece of written work, just a short summary is fine.
Have a good week!