The temporary replacement of a note by its lower or upper neighbor.  From the Italian “appoggiare”, to lean.





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A term involving the substitution of higher tones for lower ones and vice-versa.
Sonata Form

Form used for each movement of a sonata, consisting of 3 elements:

  1. Exposition
  2. Development
  3. Recapitulation
  4. and sometimes a Coda 

Rondo Form

Often used for the final movement of classical sonatas:


A B A C A B’ A 

Symphonic Poem

A type of music in which an extra-musical idea (usually literary) serves as the basis for an orchestral composition.

Programmatic music.

Grew out of the program symphony, created by Liszt in “Tasso” after a poem by Byron, “Mazeppa” after a poem by Victor Hugo, “The Slaughter of the Huns” after a painting by Kaulbach, etc.

Smetana’s 6 symphonic poems-“Ma Vlast”. 


From the French “mot”, meaning “word”.

The most important form of early polyphonic music from 1200-1600.

  1. Medieval Motets are normally in 3 voices; the tenor is the cantus firmus borrowed from a melismatic passage of a Gregorian Gradual, Alleluia, Responsory, etc.
  2. Renaissance, or Flemish Motets are a sacred choral composition based on a single Latin text, 4-5 voice parts, each part is of equal significance. 

Milton Babbitt

A major American composer, theorist, mathematician, and teacher.

Expanded Schoenberg’s 12-tone system to other aspects of music, such as rhythm, dymanics, and timbre, resulting in TOTAL SERIALISM.

Composed the first serial work, “Three Compositions for Piano”

Composed one of the first pieces to combine tape playback with live performance. 

The Well-Tempered Clavier

A famous work by Bach, consisting of 48 compositions, each a prelude followed by a fugue. 

Divided into 2 parts, each containing 24 preludes and fugues, one for each major and minor key in chromatic order, beginning with C.  “Well-tempered” refers to a system of tuning, equal tempermant, which made it possible to use all tonalities. 



Regarded as the greatest virtuoso violinist ever.  Rumored to have been in league with the devil because of his amazing musical skills.

Commissioned Berlioz’s “Harold in Italy”.

Franz Liszt set out to be Paganini’s equal on the piano 


An important device of 14th-century composition, found in the motets of Vitry, Machaut, Dufay and Dunstable.

Employs a fixed pattern of time values for the liturgical melody (cantus firmus) in the tenor, this pattern being re-stated several times during the course of the melody. 

The simultaneous use of conflicting rhythms and accents, often as a result of combining meters.
A passage or section in the style of a brilliant improvisation, placed near the end of a solo composition such as an aria or concerto; allows the soloist to display technical skill.
Alberti Bass

Broken-chord figures used frequently in accompaniment patterns in piano music of the late 18th century (Haydn, Mozart).

Named for Domenico Alberti, who was one of the first to use the pattern extensively.

ex. 1-5-3-5 1-5-3-5


1-3-5 1-3-5 

Ars nova

Ars nova was a stylistic period in music of the Late Middle Ages, centered in France, which encompassed the period roughly from the preparation of the Roman de Fauvel (1310 and 1314) until the death of Machaut (1377). 

was first used in a publication of the same name by Philippe de Vitry (c. 1322).

The greatest practitioner of the new musical style was undoubtedly Guillaume de Machaut, who also had an equally distinguished career as a canon at Reims Cathedral and as a poet. The ars nova style is nowhere more perfectly displayed than in his considerable body of motets, lais, virelais, rondeaux, and ballades.

Gregorian chant

Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical chant in Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services. This vast repertory of chants is the oldest music known as it is the first repertory to have been adequately notated in the 10th century.

Although popular belief credits Pope Gregory the Great with having personally invented Gregorian chant, scholars now believe that the chant bearing his name arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Roman and Gallican chant and that at that time the attribution to Gregory I was a ‘marketing ruse’ to invest it with a pedigree of Holy Inspiration in efforts to create one liturgic protocol that would be practised throughout the entire Empire.

Mass ordinary/Mass Proper

The Ordinary of the Mass (Latin: Ordo Missae) is the set of texts of the Roman Catholic Church Latin Rite Mass that are generally invariable. This contrasts with the proper, which are items of the Mass that change with the feast or following the Liturgical Year. The Ordinary is printed in the Roman Missal as a distinct section placed in the middle of the book, between the Mass of the Easter Vigil and that of Easter Sunday in pre-1970 editions, and between the Proper of the Seasons and the Proper of the Saints thereafter.

  1. Kyrie eleison (“Lord have mercy”)
  2. Gloria (“Glory be to God on high”)
  3. Credo (“I believe in one God”), the Nicene Creed
  4. Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy”), the second part of which, beginning with the word “Benedictus” (“Blessed is he”), was often sung separately after the consecration, if the setting was long. (See Benedictus for other chants beginning with that word.)
  5. Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”)


Notre Dame School

The group of composers working at or near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris from about 1160 to 1250, along with the music they produced, is referred to as the Notre Dame school, or the Notre Dame School of Polyphony.

The only composers whose names have come down to us from this time are Leonin and Perotin. Both were mentioned by an anonymous English student, known as Anonymous IV, who was either working or studying at Notre Dame later in the 13th century. In addition to naming the two composers as “the best composers of organum,” and specifying that they compiled the big book of organum known as the Magnus Liber Organi, he provides a few tantalizing bits of information on the music and the principles involved in its composition. Perotin is the first composer of organum quadruplum — four-voice polyphony — at least the first composer whose music has survived, since complete survivals of notated music from this time are spotty at best.

Leonin, Perotin and the other anonymous composers whose music has survived are representatives of the era of European music history known as the ars antiqua. The motet was first developed during this period out of the clausula, which is one of the most frequently encountered types of composition in the Magnus Liber Organi.

While music with notation has survived, in substantial quantity, the interpretation of this music, especially with regard to rhythm, remains controversial. Three music theorists describe the contemporary practice: Johannes de Garlandia, Franco of Cologne, and Anonymous IV; however they were all writing more than two generations after the music was written, and may have been imposing their current practice, which was quickly evolving, on music which was conceived differently. In much music of the Notre Dame School the lowest voices sings long note values while the upper voice or voices sing highly ornamented lines, which often use repeating patterns of long and short notes known as the “rhythmic modes.” This marked the beginning of notation capable of showing relative durations of notes within and between parts (Hoppin 1978, p.221).

Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 and 1750.[1] This era is said to begin in music after the Renaissance and was followed by the Classical music era. The original meaning of “baroque” is “misshapen pearl”, a strikingly fitting characterization of the architecture of this period; later, the name came to be applied also to its music. Baroque music forms a major portion of the classical music canon, being widely studied, performed, and listened to. It is associated with composers such as Claudio Monteverdi, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Arcangelo Corelli, and Johann Sebastian Bach. The baroque period saw the development of functional tonality. During the period composers and performers used more elaborate musical ornamentation; made changes in musical notation, and developed new instrumental playing techniques. Baroque music expanded the size, range and complexity of instrumental performance, and also established opera as a musical genre. Many musical terms and concepts from this era are still in use today.
Generalbass/basse fondamentale
Church cantata
Sonata (church and chamber)
Opera buffa
The term Opera buffa (plural: Opere buffe) was at first used as an informal description of Italian comic operas variously classified by their authors as ‘dramma bernesco’, ‘dramma comico’, ‘divertimento giocoso’, ‘commedia per musica’, ‘dramma giocoso’ etc. It is especially associated with developments in Naples in the first half of the 18th century, from whence its popularity spread to Rome and northern Italy. It was at first characterized by everyday settings, local dialects, and simple vocal writing (the Basso buffo is the associated voice type), the main requirement being clear diction and facility with patter. Foreign genres such as opera comique or Singspiel differed as well in having spoken dialogue in place of recitativo secco, although one of the most influential examples, Pergolesi’s La serva padrona, sparked the Querelle des bouffons in Paris as an adaptation without sung recitatives.

The New Grove Dictionary of Opera considers La Cilla (music by Michelangelo Faggioli, text by F. A. Tullio, 1706) and Luigi and Federico Ricci’s Crispino e la comare (1850) to be the first and last sightings of the genre, although the term is still occasionally applied to newer work (for example Krenek’s Zeitoper Schwergewicht). Summits in this history are the 80 or so libretti by Carlindo Grolo, Loran Glodici, Sogol Cardoni [1] and various other approximate anagrams of Carlo Goldoni, the three Mozart/Da Ponte collaborations, and the comedies of Gioachino Rossini.

Thematic transformation
Serial composition
Chance/Aleatoric Composition

  1. Vienna
  2. pre-1950
  3. Chamber music and opera
  4. Pierrot lunaire and Piano Concerto, op 42

Notker Balbulus

Composer dating Pre-1000

Composed “Liber hymnorum” 

Bernart de Ventadorn
Composer from 1100s
Hildegard of Bingen
Composer from 1100s
Walter von der Vogelweide
Composer from the 1100s
Adam de la Halle
Composer from the 1200s
Petrus de Cruce
Composer from 1200s
Composer from 1200s
Guillaume de Machaut
Composer from 1300s
Jacopo da Bologna
Composer from 1300s
Francesco Landini
Composer from 1300s
Leonel Power
Composer from 1400s
John Dunstable
Composer from 1400s
Gilles Binchois
Composer from 1400s
Guillaume Dufay
Composer from 1400s
Johannes Ockeghem
Composer from 1400s
An antiphon (Greek ἀντίφωνον, ἀντί “opposite” + φωνή “voice”) is a response, usually sung in Gregorian chant, to a psalm or some other part of a religious service, such as at Vespers or at a Mass. This meaning gave rise to the antiphony style of singing, see call and response.

A piece of music which is performed by two semi-independent choirs interacting with one another, often singing alternate musical phrases, is known as antiphonal. In particular, antiphonal psalmody is the singing or musical playing of psalms by alternating groups of performers. The peculiar mirror structure of the Hebrew psalms renders it probable that the antiphonal method originated in the services of the ancient Israelites. According to the historian Socrates, its introduction into Christian worship was due to Ignatius of Antioch (died 107), who in a vision had seen the angels singing in alternate choirs[1]. In the Latin Church it was not practised until more than two centuries later, when it was introduced by Ambrose, bishop of Milan, who compiled an antiphonary, or collection of works suitable for antiphonal singing (also known as an antiphonal). The antiphonary still in use in the Roman Roman Catholic Church was compiled by Gregory the Great (590).[2]

Antiphony is particularly common in the Anglican musical tradition, where the choir divides into two equal halves on opposite sides of the quire as Decani and Cantoris.

Antiphons are also used as an integral part of the worship in the Greek Orthodox church[3] and the Eastern Catholic churches.[4]

The Indian concept sawal-jawab (“question” and “answer”) can be considered antiphonal. The alteration of individual notes or pitches is hocket.

Antiphon can also be used outside of a strict musical or liturgical context to mean a more general response. When used in this way the word often maintains its religious connotation.

Bar Form
The Bar form is an old musical form in which each stanza follows the pattern AAB. It is named after the medieval poetic form known as Bar in German. Such a poem contains three stanzas (or more), and each stanza is in AAB form, composed of two Stollen, which are collectively termed the Aufgesang, followed by an Abgesang. The musical form thus contains two repetitions of one melody (Stollen – ‘stanzas’) followed by a melody (Abgesang – ‘aftersong’). The Abgesang may incorporate portions of Stollen phrase.

The minnesingers of the 12th to 14th century in Germany wrote songs in this form, and Lutheran chorales also are typically in Bar form. A good example of Bar form is “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Cantigas de Santa Maria
Cantus Firmus
Church Modes
Early Organum
Fixed Forms
Franco of Cologne (Ars cantus mensurabilis)
Guido d’Arezzo (Micrologus)
Guidonian Hand
Johannes Tinctoris
Landini Cadence
Magnus liber organi

Mass Types

(cantus firmus, motto, imitation);

Messe de Nostre Dame
Modal notation (modal rhythm)/Mensural notation
Monastery of St. Gall
Montpellier Codex
Musica enchiriadis/Scholica enchiriadis
Musica ficta
Office (Divine Office)
Old Hall Manuscript
Psalm Tones
Roman de Fauvel
sequence (prose)
Severinus Boethius
solmization syllables
Squarcialupi Codex
Squarcialupi Codex
strophic forms (hymn; canso)
Trecento Forms
Trent Codices
Winchester Tropers
basso continuo
Bay Psalm Book
Beggar’s Opera
Brandenburg Concertos
Cento concerti ecclesiastici (Preface)
chamber cantata
chorale prelude
da capo aria
Dialogue between Ancient and Modern Music
Florentine Camerata
French ouverture
Institutioni armoniche
l’Art de toucher le clavecin
Observations on the Florid Song

Pier Francesco Tosi (around 1653 – 1732) was a castrato singer, composer, and writer on music. Born in Cesena to Giuseppe Felice Tosi, a composer and organist, Tosi became one of the most famous castrati of his day.

Tosi began his career singing in church choirs as a boy and young man. He sang in a Rome church, 1676–7, belonged to Milan Cathedral choir from 1681 until his dismissal for misconduct in 1685, made his one recorded appearance in opera at Reggio nell’Emilia in 1687, in Giovanni Varischino’s Odoacre, and was based in Genoa before going in 1693 to London, where he gave weekly public concerts and taught. From 1701 to 1723 he travelled extensively as musical and diplomatic agent of Emperor Joseph I and the Elector Palatine. From 1724 he again taught in London for some years; sometime before 1681 he had become a priest. Although he composed a number of cantatas and arias, he is best known as the author of Opinioni de’ cantori antichi e moderni (1723), a treatise on singing. This was translated into English as Observations on the Florid Song by Johann Ernst Galliard in 1742 and into German as Anleitung zur Singkunst by Johann Friedrich Agricola (who also provided an extensive commentary of his own) in 1757. Tosi also wrote some vocal works. He died in Faenza.

Ottaviano Petrucci (June 18, 1466 ; May 7, 1539) was an Italian printer. Petrucci is credited with producing, in 1501, the first book of sheet music printed from movable type: Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, a collection of chansons. He also published numerous works by the most highly regarded composers of the Renaissance, including Josquin des Prez and Antoine Brumel.
Pope Marcellus Mass
Missa Papae Marcelli, or Pope Marcellus Mass, is a mass by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. It is his most well-known and most often-performed mass, and is frequently taught in university courses on music. It was always sung at the Papal Coronation Mass (the last being the coronation of Paul VI in 1963).
In Baroque music, ritornello was the word for a recurring passage for orchestra in the first or final movement of a solo concerto or aria (also in works for chorus). In ritornello form, the tutti opens with a theme called the ritornello (refrain). This theme, always played by the tutti, returns in different keys throughout the movement. However, it usually returns in incomplete fragments. It was favoured by composers such as Bach, Vivaldi and Handel and was used frequently in concertos, chamber works and vocal and choral pieces, though most prominently in the solo concerto where it created a ;tutti-solo-tutti-solo-tutti; pattern, with the ritornello being the ;tutti; section. When the classical music era started, the ritornello form was altered to resemble sonata form, though it later transformed to become rondo form.
St. Matthew Passion
The St. Matthew Passion (German: Matth;uspassion) (also, Matth;us Passion), BWV 244, is a musical composition written by Johann Sebastian Bach for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra, with libretto by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici). It sets chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of Matthew to music, with interspersed chorales and arias.






Partita was originally the name for a single instrumental piece of music (16th and 17th centuries), but Johann Kuhnau and later German composers (notably Johann Sebastian Bach) used it for collections of musical pieces, as a synonym for suite.

Syntagma musicum
Michael Praetorius, baroque musician, was simultaneously an organist, a choirmaster and teacher, a prolific composer, and author of a prose work entitled Syntagma musicum, a highly significant source for musical history. Although specialization was not the order of his day and artists generally were expected to be versatile, it is certain that no ordinary musician could have possessed the talent and imagination, to say nothing of the energy, which enabled Praetorius to excel in so many different fields and to have had published such a great quantity of work in a lifetime of barely fifty years.
Trag;die en musique (French lyric tragedy), also known as trag;die lyrique, is a genre of French opera introduced by Jean-Baptiste Lully and used by his followers until the second half of the eighteenth century. Operas in this genre are usually based on stories from Classical mythology or the Italian romantic epics of Tasso and Ariosto. The stories may not have a tragic ending – in fact, they generally don’t – but the atmosphere must be noble and elevated. The standard tragédie en musique has five acts. Earlier works in the genre were preceded by an allegorical prologue and, during the lifetime of Louis XIV, these generally celebrated the king’s noble qualities and his prowess in war. Each of the five acts usually follows a basic pattern, opening with an aria in which one of the main characters expresses their feelings, followed by dialogue in recitative interspersed with short arias (petits airs), in which the main business of the plot occurs. Each act traditionally ends with a divertissement, offering great opportunities for the chorus and the ballet troupe. Composers sometimes changed the order of these features in an act for dramatic reasons.
Hector Berlioz
Louis Hector Berlioz (December 11, 1803 ; March 8, 1869) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande Messe des morts (Requiem). Berlioz made great contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation and by utilizing huge orchestral forces for his works; as a conductor, he performed several concerts with over 1,000 musicians.[1] At the other extreme, he also composed around 50 songs for voice and piano.

Anton Bruckner (4 September 1824 ; 11 October 1896) was an Austrian composer known primarily for his symphonies, masses, and motets. His symphonies are often considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex polyphony, and considerable length. Bruckner’s compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies.

Unlike other radicals, such as Wagner or Hugo Wolf who fit the enfant terrible mold, Bruckner showed extreme humility before other musicians, Wagner in particular. This apparent dichotomy between Bruckner the man and Bruckner the composer hampers efforts to describe his life in a way that gives a straightforward context for his music.

Antonín Leopold Dvořák ([ˈantɔɲiːn ˈlɛɔpɔld ˈdvɔr̝aːk], (often pronounced in English as [ˈdvɔɹʒ̝æk]; DVOR-zhahk) ; September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer of Romantic music, who employed the idioms and melodies of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. His works include operas, symphonic, choral and chamber music. His best-known works include his New World Symphony (particularly the slow movement), as well as his Slavonic Dances, American String Quartet, and Cello Concerto in B minor.
Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934) was an English Romantic composer. Several of his first major orchestral works, including the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, were greeted with acclaim. He also composed oratorios, chamber music, symphonies, instrumental concertos, and songs.

César Franck (December 10, 1822 – November 8, 1890), a composer, organist and music teacher of Belgian and German origin who lived in France, was one of the great figures in Romantic music in the second half of the 19th century.[1]


(Franz) Joseph Haydn[1][2] (March 31, 1732 – May 31, 1809) was an Austrian composer. He was one of the most prominent composers of the classical period, and is called by some the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet".

A life-long citizen of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Hungarian Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, "forced to become original".[3]

During his lifetime, the composer was always known as Joseph Haydn. The form "Franz Joseph Haydn" is avoided by modern scholars and historians.[4]

Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor.

Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt (Hungarian: Liszt Ferenc; pronounced [ˈlɪst ˈfɛrɛnts]) (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) was a Hungarian[1][2][3] composer, virtuoso pianist and teacher.

Liszt became renowned throughout Europe for his great skill as a performer; during the 1800s, many considered him to be the greatest pianist in history.[4] He was also an important and influential composer, a notable piano teacher, a conductor who contributed significantly to the modern development of the art, and a benefactor to other composers and performers, notably Richard Wagner and Hector Berlioz.

As a composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives of the "Neudeutsche Schule" ("New German School"). He left behind a huge and diverse oeuvre, in which he influenced his forward-looking contemporaries and anticipated some 20th-century ideas and trends. Some of his most notable contributions were the invention of the symphonic poem, developing the concept of thematic transformation as part of his experiments in musical form and making radical departures in harmony.[5]

Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was a Bohemian-born Austrian composer and conductor. He was best known during his own lifetime as one of the leading orchestral and operatic conductors of the day. He has since come to be acknowledged as among the most important late-romantic composers, although his music was never completely accepted by the musical establishment of Vienna while he was still alive. Mahler composed primarily symphonies and songs; however, his approach to genre often blurred the lines between orchestral Lied, symphony, and symphonic poem.
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born and generally known as Felix Mendelssohn[1] (February 3, 1809 – November 4, 1847) was a German composer, pianist and conductor of the early Romantic period. The grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, he was born to a notable Jewish family which later converted to Christianity. His work includes symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano and chamber music. After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes and antisemitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his creative originality is now being recognized and re-evaluated. He is now among the most popular composers of the Romantic era.
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (Russian: Моде́ст Петро́вич Му́соргский, Modest Petrovič Musorgskij) (March 21 [O.S. March 9], 1839 – March 28 [O.S. March 16], 1881), one of the Russian composers known as the Five, was an innovator of Russian music. He strove to achieve a uniquely Russian musical identity, often in deliberate defiance of the established conventions of Western music.

Like his literary contemporary Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Mussorgsky depicts in his music "the insulted and the injured" with all their passion and pain. He raises these characters to tragic heights until the grotesque and majestic coexist. Mussorgsky could accomplish this not simply out of compassion or guilt towards them, but because in his works he almost becomes them. Mussorgsky’s music is vivid, confused, feverish and ultimately hypnotizing ;again, like Dostoyevsky at his best.[1]

Many of his major works were inspired by Russian history, Russian folklore, and other nationalist themes, including the opera Boris Godunov, the orchestral tone poem Night on Bald Mountain, and the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition. However, while Mussorgsky’s music can be vivid and nationalistic, it does not glorify the powerful and is at times (such as in The Field-Marshal) antimilitaristic. For this reason, it was perceived as being directed against the state and its composer "under suspicion." He, like the others in The Russian Five, were considered dangerous extremists by the emperor and his court. This may have been the reason Tsar Alexander III personally crossed off Boris Godounov from the list of proposed pieces for the imperial opera in 1888.[2]

For many years Mussorgsky’s works were mainly known in versions revised or completed by other composers. Many of his most important compositions have recently come into their own in their original forms, and some of the original scores are now also available.


Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (January 4, 1710 ; 16 or March 17, 1736) was an Italian composer, violinist and organist.

Pergolesi was one of the most important early composers of opera buffa (comic opera). His opera seria Il prigioner superbo contained the two act buffa intermezzo, La Serva Padrona (The Servant Mistress, August 28, 1733), which became a very popular work in its own right. When it was performed in Paris in 1752, it prompted the so-called Querelle des Bouffons (;quarrel of the comedians;) between supporters of serious French opera by the likes of Jean-Baptiste Lully and Jean-Philippe Rameau and supporters of new Italian comic opera. Pergolesi was held up as a model of the Italian style during this quarrel, which divided Paris’s musical community for two years.

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns
Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (/ʃaʁl ka.mij sɛ̃.sɑ̃s/) (9 October 1835 – 16 December 1921) was a French composer, organist, conductor, and pianist, known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre, Samson and Delilah, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, and his Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony).

Robert Schumann,[1] sometimes given as Robert Alexander Schumann,[2] (8 June, 1810 – 29 July, 1856) was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is one of the most famous Romantic composers of the 19th century.

He had hoped to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist, having been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe after only a few years of study with him. However, a hand injury prevented those hopes from being realized, and he decided to focus his musical energies on composition. Schumann’s published compositions were, until 1840, all for the piano; he later composed works for piano and orchestra, many lieder (songs for voice and piano), four symphonies, an opera, and other orchestral, choral and chamber works. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift f;r Musik (;The New Journal for Music;), a Leipzig-based publication that he jointly founded.

In 1840, after a long and acrimonious legal battle with his piano instructor Friedrich Wieck, Schumann married Wieck’s daughter, pianist Clara Wieck, who herself composed music and had a considerable concert career, including premieres of many of her husband’s works.

Schumann died in middle age; for the last two years of his life, after an attempted suicide, Schumann was confined to a mental institution.


Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber (18 December 1786;; 5 June 1826) was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school.

Weber’s works, especially his operas Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany. He was also an innovative composer of instrumental music. His compositions for the clarinet, which include two concertos, a concertino, a quintet and a duo concertante, are regularly performed, while his piano music—including four sonatas, two concertos and the Konzertstück (Concert Piece) in F minor—influenced composers such as Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt and Felix Mendelssohn. The Konzertstück provided a new model for the one-movement concerto in several contrasting sections (such as Liszt’s, who often played the work), and was acknowledged by Igor Stravinsky as the model for his Capriccio for piano and orchestra.

Weber’s contribution to vocal and choral music is also significant. His body of Catholic religious music was highly popular in 19th century Germany, and he composed one of the earliest song-cycles, Die Temperamente beim Verluste der Geliebten.


Hugo Wolf (March 13, 1860 – February 22, 1903) was an Austrian composer of Slovene origin, particularly noted for his art songs, or Lieder. He brought to this form a concentrated expressive intensity which was unique in late Romantic music, somewhat related to that of the Second Viennese School in concision but utterly unrelated in technique.

Though he had several bursts of extraordinary productivity, particularly in 1888 and 1889, depression frequently interrupted his creative periods, and his last composition was written in 1898, before he died of syphilis.


In classical music, arioso is a style of solo opera singing between recitative and aria. Literally, arioso means airy. The term arose in the 16th century along with the aforementioned styles and monody. It is commonly confused with recitativo accompagnato.

Arioso is similar to recitative due to its unrestrained structure and inflexions, close to those of speech. It differs however in its rhythm. Arioso is similar to aria in its melodic form, both being closer to singing than recitative; however they differ in form, arioso generally not resorting to the process of repetition.


A Cabaletta is a form of aria within 19th century Italian opera. It usually refers specifically to the second half of a double aria: a faster or more rhythmic movement following a cantabile section, nowadays often referred to as the cavatina.

The cabaletta formed as part of an evolution from early 19th century arias containing two contrasting sections at different tempi within a single structure into more elaborate arias with musically distinct movements. The term itself was first defined in 1826. It has a repetitive structure consisting of two stanzas followed by embellished variations. The cabaletta typically ends with a coda, often a very virtuosic one.

Classic examples include "Vien diletto, è in ciel la luna" from I Puritani by Bellini (1835) and "Non più mesta" from La Cenerentola by Rossini (1817).

bel canto

Bel canto (Bel-Canto) (Italian, "beautiful singing"), along with a number of similar constructions (‘bellezze del canto’, ‘bell’arte del canto’), is an Italian opera term with several possible different meanings that is subject to a wide array of interpretations.[1]

The earliest usage of the term bel canto emerged in late 17th-century Italy to refer to the the Italian model of singing that was developing there. However, the phrase did not become widely used until the mid 18th century and the term did not take on a more specified meaning until the mid-19th century. In fact "neither musical nor general dictionaries saw fit to attempt definition until after 1900." Even so, the term bel canto remains ambiguous and is often used nostalgically in its application to a lost singing tradition.[2]

While strictly speaking the term bel canto is a style of singing and not a vocal technique, the style did strongly influence vocal pedagogical thought and practice; thereby significantly altering the way in which vocal technique was taught. The term bel canto technique is sometimes used to refer to vocal technique concepts developed during the bel canto era. That is not to say that there was a uniform opinion among all voice teachers during this time, but that there were developments in thought and practice within vocal pedagogy that have become associated with bel canto singing. For example, teachers during the bel canto era began to describe the voice as possessing three vocal registers. Chest voice was identified as the lowest and head voice the highest of three vocal registers: the chest, passaggio and head registers. Prior to the bel canto era the terms chest and head voice were used but with different meanings. The term ‘throat voice’ was used and ‘passaggio’ not used at all. Another example would be major changes within voice classification. Terms like mezzo-soprano and lyric coloratura soprano, along with many other designations were developed during this period and have had a lasting impact on the way singers and voice teachers classify voices. Writings on the voice and vocal exercises created to enhance vocal dexterity, range, and control during this period are still studied and used today by some teachers.[1] Prominent vocal pedagogues from the bel canto era include: Manuel García, Mathilde Marchesi, Julius Stockhausen, Francesco Lamperti, and his son Giovanni Battista Lamperti.


Divertimento (from the Italian divertire – to amuse) is a musical genre, with most of its examples from the 18th century. The mood of the divertimento is most often lighthearted (as a result of being played at social functions) and it is generally composed for a small ensemble.

As a separate genre, it appears to have no specific form, although most of the divertimenti of the second half of the 18th century go either back to a dance suite approach (derived from the ‘ballet’ type of theatrical divertimento), or take the form of other chamber music genres of their century (as a continuation of the merely instrumental theatrical divertimento). There are many other terms which describe music similar to the divertimento, including serenade, cassation, notturno, Nachtmusik; after about 1780, the divertimento was the term most commonly applied to this light, "after-dinner" and often outdoor music. Divertimenti have from one to nine movements, and there is at least one example with thirteen. The earliest publication to use the name "divertimento" is by Carlo Grossi, in 1681, in Venice (Il divertimento de’ grandi: musiche da camera, ; per servizio di tavola) –and the hint that the divertimento is to accompany "table service" applies to later ages as well, since this light music was often used to accompany banquets and other social events.

Empfindsamer Stil

The Empfindsamer Stil (literally sensitive style) is a style of musical composition developed in 18th century Germany, intended to express "true and natural" feelings, and featuring sudden contrasts of mood. It was developed as a contrast to the Baroque doctrine of affections, in which a composition (or movement) would have the same affect, or emotion, throughout.

Gottfried August Homilius (1714–1785) was the main representative of the empfindsamer style.

Other composers in this style include:

  • Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, the eldest son of J.S. Bach
  • C.P.E. Bach, the second eldest son of J.S. Bach
  • Johann Joachim Quantz
  • Carlos Seixas


The fantasia (also English: fantasy, fancy, German: Fantasie, French: fantaisie) is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, it seldom approximates the textbook rules of any strict musical form (as with the impromptu).

In the Baroque and Classical music eras, a fantasia was typically a piece for keyboard instruments with alternating sections of rapid passagework and slower, more melodic passages. From the Baroque period, J. S. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903, for harpsichord; Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, for organ; and Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537, for organ are examples. For an example from the Classical period, see Mozart’s Fantasia in D minor, K. 397 (see Köchel) for fortepiano. In contemporary music, Busoni’s Fantasia Contrappuntistica or Corigliano’s Fantasia on an ostinato are examples of a fantasia.

grand opera
Grand Opera is a genre of 19th-century opera generally in four or five acts, characterised by large-scale casts and orchestras, and (in their original productions) lavish and spectacular design and stage-effects, normally with plots based on or around dramatic historic events. The term is particularly applied to certain productions of the Paris Opéra from the late 1820s to around 1850, and has sometimes been used to designate the Paris Opéra itself, but is also used in a broader application in respect of contemporary or later works of similar monumental proportions from France, Germany, Italy and other European countries.[1].

28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832 was a German writer.

  • Poetry, drama, literature, theology, humanism and science.
  • Magnum opus: Faust


Eduard Hanslick

Eduard Hanslick (September 11, 1825–August 6, 1904) was a Bohemian-Austrian writer on music.

Hanslick’s tastes were conservative; in his memoirs he said that for him musical history really began with Mozart and culminated in Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms. He is best remembered today for his critical advocacy of Brahms as against the school of Wagner, an episode in 19th century music history sometimes called the War of the Romantics. The critic Richard Pohl, of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, represented the progressive composers of the "Music of the Future".

Being a close friend of Brahms from 1862, Hanslick possibly had some influence on Brahms’s music, often getting to hear new music before it was publicly premièred. Hanslick saw Wagner’s reliance on dramatics and word-painting as inimical to the nature of music, which he thought to be expressive solely by virtue of its form, and not through any extra-musical associations. The theoretical framework of Hanslick’s criticism is expounded in his book of 1854, Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (On the Musically Beautiful), which started as an attack on the Wagnerian aesthetic and established itself as an influential text, subsequently going through many editions and translations in several languages. Other targets for Hanslick’s heavy criticism were Anton Bruckner and Hugo Wolf. Of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, he accused composer and soloist Adolph Brodsky of putting the audience "through hell" with music "which stinks to the ear"; he was also luke-warm towards the same composer’s Sixth Symphony.[4]

incidental music

Incidental music is music in a play, television program, radio program, video game, film or some other form not primarily musical. The term is less frequently applied to film music, with such music being referred to instead as the "film score" or "soundtrack."

Incidental music is often "background" music, and adds atmosphere to the action. It may take the form of something as simple as a low, ominous tone suggesting an impending startling event, or, to enhance the depiction of a story-advancing sequence, such as its use in the film The Insider.

inverted pedal

In tonal music, a pedal point (also pedal tone, pedal note, organ point, or pedal) is a sustained tone, typically in the bass, during which at least one foreign, i.e., dissonant harmony is sounded in the other parts. A pedal point is a "non-chord tone", which puts it in the same musical categories as suspensions, retardations, and passing tones. However, the pedal point is unique among non-chord tones "in that begins on a consonance, sustains (or repeats) through another chord as a dissonance until the harmony" not the non-chord tone, "resolves back to a consonance." [1]

Pedal points "have a strong tonal effect, ‘pulling’ the harmony back to its root." [1] When a pedal point occurs in a voice other than the bass, it is usually referred to as an inverted pedal point[

Ludwig Alois Ferdinand Ritter von Köchel (IPA: [ˈkœçəl]) (January 14, 1800 – June 3, 1877) was a musicologist, writer, composer, botanist and publisher. He is best known for cataloguing the works of Mozart and originating the ‘K-numbers’ by which they are known (K for Köchel).

A leitmotif (pronounced /ˌlaɪtmoʊˈtiːf/) (also leitmotiv; lit. "leading motif") is a recurring musical theme, associated with a particular person, place, or idea. The word has also been used by extension to mean any sort of recurring theme, whether in music, literature, or the life of a fictional character or a real person.

Lied (plural Lieder), (pronounced [liːt]; plural [ˈliːdɐ]) is a German word, meaning literally "song"; among English speakers, however, the word is used primarily as a term for European romantic music songs, also known as art songs. More accurately, the term perhaps is best used to describe specifically songs set to a German poem of reasonably high literary aspirations, most notably during the nineteenth century, beginning with Franz Schubert and culminating with Hugo Wolf. Typically, Lieder are arranged for a single singer and piano. Sometimes Lieder are gathered in a Liederkreis or "song cycle"—a series of songs (generally three or more) tied by a single narrative or theme. The composers Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann are most closely associated with this genre of romantic music.

Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi, better known by his pseudonym of Metastasio, (January 3, 1698 – April 12, 1782) was an Italian poet and librettist, considered the most important writer of opera seria libretti.

La clemenza di Tito 

opera comique

Opéra comique (plural, opéras comiques) is a French genre of opera that contains spoken dialogue. It emerged out of the popular vaudevilles of the Fair Theatres of St Germain and St Laurent (and to a lesser extent the Comédie-Italienne). The name first appeared in reference to Télémaque by A R Lesage (1715), but the tradition lasted well into the 20th century.

Associated with the Paris theatre of the same name, it is, despite its name, not necessarily comic or light in nature—indeed, Carmen, likely the most famous opéra comique, is a tragedy. It is sometimes confused with 18th-century French version of the Italian opera buffa which is called opéra bouffon (different again from the 19th century opéra bouffe).

opera seria

Opera seria (usually called dramma per musica or melodramma serio) is an Italian musical term which refers to the noble and "serious" style of Italian opera that predominated in Europe from the 1710s to ca. 1770.

rescue opera

A rescue opera was a popular subject of opera in the nineteenth century. Generally, rescue operas dealt with the rescue of a main character from some sort of danger. The genre became popular in France at around the time of the French Revolution, and many such operas dealt with the rescue of a political prisoner.

The most famous example of a rescue opera is Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fidelio. Examples also exist by Luigi Cherubini (Les deux journées), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Ferdinando Paer and Bedřich Smetana.


A scherzo (plural scherzi) is a piece of music or a movement, in a certain style, that forms part of a larger piece such as a symphony. The word "scherzo" means "joke" in Italian. Sometimes the word scherzando (joking) is used in musical notation to indicate that a passage should be executed in a playful manner.

The scherzo developed from the minuet, and gradually came to replace it as the third (or sometimes second) movement in symphonies, string quartets, sonatas and similar works. It traditionally retains the triple meter time signature and ternary form of the minuet, but is considerably quicker. It is often, but not always, of a light-hearted nature. A few examples of scherzi exist which are not in the customary triple meter, such as in Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 18. The scherzo itself is a rounded binary form; but, like the minuet, is usually played with the accompanying Trio followed by a repeat of the Scherzo, creating the ABA or ternary form. This is sometimes done twice or more (ABABA). The "B" theme is a trio, a lighter passage for fewer instruments. It is not necessarily for only three instruments, as the name implies, except in early Baroque music.

Joseph Haydn wrote minuets which are very close to scherzi in tone, but it was Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert who first used the form widely, with Beethoven in particular turning the polite rhythm of the minuet into a much more intense — and sometimes even savage — dance.


Singspiel ("song-play") (plural Singspiele) is a form of German-language music drama, regarded as a genre of opera. It is characterized by spoken dialogue, sometimes performed over music, interspersed with ensembles, popular songs, ballads and arias (which were often folk-like and strophic in nature).

While tragedy was a less frequent motif, it should be noted that most of the Singspiele that are still part of the modern operatic canon were those written on more serious themes, such as Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fidelio, or Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart touched the genre under an imperial commission for the New National Theatre in Vienna with Die Entführung aus dem Serail in 1782. He previously wrote in the genre (Zaide (1780)), and continued with works such as Der Schauspieldirektor (1786) and Die Zauberflöte (1791), although some argue[who?] that because the latter incorporates a significant number of elements from various other musical and dramatic genres, it is a work that defies such a clear-cut classification.

Singspiel is considered the predecessor of German romantic opera, and many of the genre’s composers, such as Beethoven and Weber, paved the way to the more complex operatic style associated with Wagner, Richard Strauss and others. As a result of this evolution, however, Singspiel itself had become basically obsolete by the end of the 19th century. More directly it may be seen as the ancestor of the operettas of Franz von Suppé, Johann Strauss II and their successors.


sonata-rondo form

The simplest kind of sonata rondo form is a sonata form that repeats the opening material in the tonic as the beginning of the development section.

[A B']exp [A C"]dev [A B]recap 

Sturm und Drang

Sturm und Drang (the conventional translation is "Storm and Stress"; a more literal translation, however, might be storm and urge, storm and longing, storm and drive or storm and impulse) is the name of a movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in response to the confines of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements.

The philosopher Johann Georg Hamann is considered to be the ideologue of Sturm und Drang, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a notable proponent of the movement, though he and Friedrich Schiller ended their period of association with it, initiating what would become Weimar Classicism.


Music is described as through-composed when it is relatively continuous, non-sectional, and/or non-repetitive. A song is said to be through-composed if it has different music for each stanza of the lyrics. This is in contrast to strophic form, in which each stanza is set to the same music. Sometimes the German durchkomponiert is used to indicate the same concept.

Many examples of this form can be found in Schubert’s "Lieder" where the words of a poem are set to music, and each line is different. An example is Schubert’s "The Erlking" in which the setting proceeds to a different musical arrangement for each new stanza. Whenever the piece comes to each character, the character portrays its own voice register and tonality.

The term is also applied to opera and other dramatic works involving music, to indicate the extent of music (as opposed to recitative and dialogue). For example the musicals of Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber have been part of a modern trend towards through-composed works, rather than collections of songs. In musical theater, works with no spoken dialogue, such as Les Miserables are usually referred to by the term "through-sung."

A work composed chronologically (from the beginning of the piece to the end, in order) without a precompositional formal plan is also through-composed.

Alexander Scriabin

Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (Russian: Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Скря́бин, Aleksandr Nikolaevič Skrjabin; sometimes transliterated as Skriabin, Skryabin, or Scriabine) (6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871]–27 April 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist who developed a highly lyrical and idiosyncratic tonal language. Driven by a poetic, philosophical and aesthetic vision that bordered on the mystical, he can be considered the primary figure of Russian Symbolism in music.

Scriabin influenced composers like Olivier Messiaen, Sergei Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky, although Scriabin was reported to have disliked Prokofiev’s and Stravinsky’s music.[1]

Scriabin stands as one of the most innovative and most controversial of composers. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia said of Scriabin that, "No composer has had more scorn heaped or greater love bestowed…" Leo Tolstoy once described Scriabin’s music as "a sincere expression of genius."[2]

Scriabin was highly regarded during his lifetime and his music has resurged in popularity in the last few decades after suffering a period of decline in the middle of the 20th century. He has consistently remained a favorite composer among pianists.[1]

Erik Satie

Alfred Éric Leslie Satie (Honfleur, 17 May 1866 – Paris, 1 July 1925) was a French composer and pianist. Starting with his first composition in 1884, he signed his name as Erik Satie.

Satie was introduced as a "gymnopedist" in 1887, shortly before writing his most famous compositions, the Gymnopédies. Later, he also referred to himself as a "phonometrograph" or "phonometrician" (meaning "someone who measures (and writes down) sounds") preferring this designation to that of "musician," after having been called "a clumsy but subtle technician" in a book on contemporary French composers published in 1911.

In addition to his body of music, Satie also left a remarkable set of writings, having contributed work for a range of publications, from the dadaist 391 to the American Vanity Fair. Although in later life he prided himself on always publishing his work under his own name, in the late nineteenth century he appears to have used pseudonyms such as Virginie Lebeau and François de Paule in some of his published writings.

Satie was a colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde. He was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music and the Theatre of the Absurd.

Maurice Ravel

Joseph-Maurice Ravel (March 7, 1875 – December 28, 1937) was a French composer and pianist of Impressionist and Expressionist music, known especially for the subtlety, richness, and poignancy of his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects.

Ravel is perhaps best known for his orchestral work, Boléro, which he considered trivial and once described as "a piece for orchestra without music."[1]

Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras, particularly of operas, Lieder and tone poems. Strauss was also a prominent conductor.
Alban Berg
Alban Maria Johannes Berg (February 9, 1885 – December 24, 1935) was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique.
Johan Sibelius

Johan Julius Christian "Jean" / "Janne" Sibelius (pronunciation ; 8 December 1865–20 September 1957) was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period and one of the most notable composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity.

The core of Sibelius’ oeuvre is his set of seven symphonies. Like Beethoven, Sibelius used each one to develop further his own personal compositional style. These works continue to be performed frequently in the concert hall and are often recorded.

In addition to the symphonies, Sibelius’ best-known compositions include Finlandia, Valse Triste, the violin concerto, the Karelia Suite and The Swan of Tuonela (one of the four movements of the Lemminkäinen Suite). Other works include pieces inspired by the Kalevala, over 100 songs for voice and piano, incidental music for 13 plays, the opera Jungfrun i tornet (The Maiden in the Tower), chamber music, piano music, 21 separate publications of choral music, and Masonic ritual music. Sibelius composed prolifically until the mid-1920s. However, soon after completing his Seventh Symphony (1924), the incidental music to The Tempest (1926), and the tone poem Tapiola (1926), he produced no large scale works for the remaining thirty years of his life. Although he is reputed to have stopped composing, he did attempt to continue writing, including abortive attempts to compose an eighth symphony. He wrote some Masonic music and re-edited some earlier works during this last period of his life, and retained an active interest in new developments in music, although he did not always view modern music favorably.


Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (Russian: Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский, Igor’ Fjodorovič Stravinskij) (17 June [O.S. 5 June] 1882 – 6 April 1971) was a Russian-born composer, considered by many to be the most influential composer of 20th century music.[1] He was a quintessentially cosmopolitan Russian who was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the century.[2] In addition to the recognition he received for his compositions, he also achieved fame as a pianist and a conductor, often at the premieres of his works.

Stravinsky’s compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. He first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev and performed by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (Russian Ballets): L’Oiseau de feu ("The Firebird") (1910), Petrushka (1911/1947), and Le Sacre du printemps ("The Rite of Spring") (1913). The Rite, whose premiere provoked a riot, transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure, and was largely responsible for Stravinky’s enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary, pushing the boundaries of musical design.

After this first Russian phase Stravinsky turned to neoclassicism in the 1920s. The works from this period tended to make use of traditional musical forms (concerto grosso, fugue, symphony), frequently concealed a vein of intense emotion beneath a surface appearance of detachment or austerity, and often paid tribute to the music of earlier masters, for example J. S. Bach and Tchaikovsky.

In the 1950s he adopted serial procedures, using the new techniques over his last twenty years. Stravinsky’s compositions of this period share traits with all of his earlier output: rhythmic energy, the construction of extended melodic ideas out of a few two- or three-note cells, and clarity of form, of instrumentation, and of utterance.

Bela Bartok
Béla Viktor János Bartók (Hungarian: IPA: [ˈbeːlɒ ˈbɒrtoːk]) (March 25, 1881–September 26, 1945) was a Hungarian composer and pianist, considered to be one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of ethnomusicology.

Charles Edward Ives (October 20, 1874 – May 19, 1954) was an American composer of modernist classical music. He is widely regarded as one of the first American classical composers of international significance. Ives’ music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years. Over time, Ives would come to be regarded as an "American Original";[1] Ives combined the American popular and church-music traditions of his youth with European art music, and was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, with musical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatoric elements, and quarter tones,[2] thus foreshadowing virtually every major musical innovation of the 20th century. Sources of Charles Ives’ tonal imagery are hymn tunes and traditional songs, the town band at holiday parade, the fiddlers at Saturday night dances, patriotic songs, sentimental parlor ballads, and the melodies of Stephen Foster.


Anton Webern
Anton Webern (December 3, 1883 – September 15, 1945) was an Austrian composer and conductor. He was a member of the Second Viennese School. As a student and significant follower of Arnold Schoenberg, he became one of the best-known proponents of the twelve-tone technique; in addition, his innovations regarding schematic organization of pitch, rhythm and dynamics were formative in the musical technique later known as total serialism.

Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse, whose name was also spelled Edgar Varèse[1] (December 22, 1883 – November 6, 1965), was an innovative French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States.

Varèse’s music features an emphasis on timbre and rhythm. He was the inventor of the term "organized sound", a phrase meaning that certain timbres and rhythms can be grouped together, sublimating into a whole new definition of sound. Although his complete surviving works only last about three hours, he has been recognised as an influence by several major composers of the late 20th century. His use of new instruments and electronic resources led to his being known as the "Father of Electronic Music" while Henry Miller described him as "The stratospheric Colossus of Sound".

Kurt Julian Weill (March 2, 1900[1] – April 3, 1950[1]), was a German, and in his later years American, composer active from the 1920s until his death. He was a leading composer for the stage. He also wrote a number of works for the concert hall.
Olivier Messiaen (French pronunciation: [mɛsjɑ̃]; December 10, 1908 – April 27, 1992) was a French composer, organist, and ornithologist. He entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 11 and numbered Paul Dukas, Maurice Emmanuel, Charles-Marie Widor and Marcel Dupré among his teachers. He was appointed organist at the church of La Trinité in Paris in 1931, a post he held until his death. On the fall of France in 1940 Messiaen was made a prisoner of war, and while incarcerated he composed his Quatuor pour la fin du temps ("Quartet for the end of time") for the four available instruments, piano, violin, cello, and clarinet. The piece was first performed by Messiaen and fellow prisoners to an audience of inmates and prison guards. Messiaen was appointed professor of harmony soon after his release in 1941, and professor of composition in 1966 at the Paris Conservatoire, positions he held until his retirement in 1978. His many distinguished pupils included Pierre Boulez, Yvonne Loriod (who later became Messiaen’s second wife), Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis and George Benjamin.
John Coltrane
ohn William Coltrane (September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina — July 17, 1967)[1] was an American jazz saxophonist and composer, and the husband of Alice Coltrane.

Throughout his career he reshaped modern jazz and influenced generations of other musicians. He was astonishingly prolific: he made about fifty recordings as a leader in these twelve years, and appeared on many more led by other musicians. Throughout his career Coltrane’s music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension that would color his legacy.

He received a posthumous Special Citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2007 for his "masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz." Along with tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Sonny Rollins, Coltrane fundamentally altered expectations for the saxophone.[1]

John Cage
John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer. A pioneer of chance music, electronic music and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde and, in the opinion of many, the most influential American composer of the 20th century.[1][2] He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage’s romantic partner for the most part of the latter’s life.
Pierre Boulez

Today, Boulez continues to be one of the leaders of the post–World War II musical modernism. His compositions have enriched musical culture, and his advocacy of modern and postmodern music has been decisive for many.

Boulez is particularly famed for his polished interpretations of twentieth century classics—Alban Berg, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Anton Webern and Edgard Varèse[14]—as well as for numerous performances of contemporary music. Clarity, precision, rhythmic agility and a respect for the composers’ intentions as notated in the musical score are the hallmarks of his conducting style.

Karlheinz Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen (22 August 1928 – 5 December 2007) was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important (Barrett 1988, 45; Harvey 1975b, 705; Hopkins 1972, 33; Klein 1968, 117) but also controversial (Power 1990, 30) composers of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Another critic calls him "one of the great visionaries of 20th-century music" (Hewett 2007). He is known for his ground-breaking work in electronic music, aleatory (controlled chance) in serial composition, and musical spatialization.

He was educated at the Hochschule für Musik Köln and the University of Cologne, and later studied with Olivier Messiaen in Paris, and with Werner Meyer-Eppler at the University of Bonn.

One of the leading figures of the Darmstadt School, his compositions and theories were and remain widely influential, not only on composers of art music, but also on jazz and popular-music artists. His works, composed over a period of nearly sixty years, eschew traditional forms. In addition to electronic music—both with and without live performers—they range from miniatures for musical boxes through works for solo instruments, songs, chamber music, choral and orchestral music, to a cycle of seven full-length operas. His theoretical and other writings comprise ten large volumes. He received numerous prizes and distinctions for his compositions, recordings, and for the scores produced by his publishing company.

Some of his notable compositions include the series of nineteen Klavierstücke (Piano Pieces), Kontra-Punkte for ten instruments, the electronic/musique-concrète Gesang der Jünglinge, Gruppen for three orchestras, the percussion solo Zyklus, Kontakte, the cantata Momente, the live-electronic Mikrophonie I, Hymnen, Stimmung for six vocalists, Aus den sieben Tagen, Mantra for two pianos and electronics, Tierkreis, Inori for soloists and orchestra, and the gigantic opera cycle Licht.

He died of sudden heart failure at the age of 79, on 5 December 2007 at his home in Kürten, Germany.

George Crumb
George Crumb (born October 24, 1929) is an American composer of modern and avant garde music. He is noted as an explorer of unusual timbres and extended technique. Examples include spoken flute (one speaks while blowing into the instrument) and glass marbles poured onto an open piano.

Tōru Takemitsu (武満 徹 Takemitsu Tōru?, October 8, 1930 – February 20, 1996) was a Japanese composer and writer on aesthetics and music theory. Though largely self-taught, Takemitsu is recognised for his skill in the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre, drawing from a wide range of influences, including jazz, popular music, avant-garde procedures and traditional Japanese music, in a harmonic idiom largely derived from the music of Claude Debussy and Olivier Messiaen.[1][2] In 1958, the international attention he drew with his Requiem for strings (1957) resulted in several commissions from across the world, and settled his reputation as the leading Japanese composer of the 20th century.[3] He was the recipient of numerous awards, commissions and honours; he composed over one hundred film scores[4][5] and about one hundred and thirty concert works[5] for ensembles of various sizes and combinations.[6] He also found time to write a detective novel, and appeared frequently on Japanese television as a celebrity chef.[7]


Krzysztof Penderecki (pronounced [ˈkʂɨʂtɔf pɛndɛrˈɛ͡tski], born November 23, 1933 in Dębica) is a Polish composer and conductor of classical music.

After taking private composition lessons with Franciszek Skolyszewski, Penderecki studied music at Krakow University and the Academy of Music in Krakow under Artur Malawski and Stanislaw Wiechowicz. Having graduated in 1958, he took up a teaching post at the Academy. Penderecki’s early works show the influence of Anton Webern and Pierre Boulez (he has also been influenced by Igor Stravinsky). Penderecki’s international recognition began in 1959 at the Warsaw Autumn Festival with the premieres of the works Strophen, Psalms of David, and Emanations, but the piece that truly brought him to international attention was Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (see threnody and Hiroshima), written for 52 string instruments. In it, Penderecki makes use of extended instrumental techniques (for example, playing on the "wrong" side of the bridge, bowing on the tailpiece). There are many novel textures in the work, which makes great use of tone clusters (many notes close together played at the same time). The work was originally titled 8′ 37", (the duration of the fatal bombing of Hiroshima) perhaps in a nod to John Cage, but Penderecki changed the title after his publisher suggested he give it a more colorful name.


Sir Harrison Paul Birtwistle CH (born 15 July 1934) is a British contemporary composer.

It would not be easy to fit Birtwistle into any sort of ‘school’ or ‘movement’. For a time he would be referred to as a part of the ‘Manchester School’, a phrase invented as a parallel to the Second Viennese School to refer to Birtwistle, Goehr and Maxwell Davies. The phrase has, however, since fallen out of use since the three composers were united only by their early studies in Manchester, not by musical style. His music is complex, written in a modernistic style with a clear, distinctive voice. His early work is sometimes evocative of Igor Stravinsky and Olivier Messiaen (composers he has acknowledged as influences) and his technique of juxtaposing blocks of sound is sometimes compared to Edgard Varèse. His early pieces made frequent use of ostinati and often had a ritualistic feel. These have been toned down in recent decades as he has adapted and transformed the techniques into more subtle methods. With its strong emphasis on rhythm, the music is often described as brutal or violent, but this analysis mistakes the strong sound world for an attempt to evoke violent actions. The explicit violence of his first opera Punch and Judy — in which the murder of Judy by her husband is so much more shocking when performed live on stage rather than by glove puppets in the classic British seaside entertainment — can easily be misinterpreted as a clue to the intention of his abstract music. The style is stark and uncompromising.

His favourite image for explaining how his pieces work is to compare them to taking a walk through a town—especially the sort of small town more common in continental Europe than Great Britain. Such a walk might start in the town square. Having explored its main features, we would set off down one of the side streets. As the walk continues, we might glimpse the town square down different streets, sometime a long way off, other times quite close. We may never return to the square in the rest of the walk or we may visit a new part of it that was not explored initially. Birtwistle suggests that this experience is akin to what he does in the music. His image conveys the way that a core musical idea is altered, varied and distorted as the piece of music progresses. The core music forms a reference point to which everything else is directed, even when we are walking in a completely different direction. Sometimes we will be less aware that it is the same musical material we are hearing; sometimes we may have been listening for a while before realising that we have heard this music before (just as one might have been looking up the street before realising that it is the town square that can be glimpsed through the traffic). He is not, therefore, suggesting that we imagine this walk through the town as a literal explanation of what is happening in the music; he does not ‘recreate’ the effect in the music (as Charles Ives does in some of his orchestral pieces).

An early variant of this technique involved literally cutting up the music, the most blatant example being Verses for Ensembles. Having composed a portion of music, Birtwistle would then cut it arbitrarily into a number of sections, which he then rearranged randomly. He would then add introductions, epilogues and music to link them together. This method was intended to give the whole piece unity, by having musical material with its own inner coherence scattered amongst musical material that still related to the core material but did not necessarily relate to itself.


Sofia Gubaidulina

  • Russian composer, b 1931
  • Supported by Dmitri Shostakovich when government deemed her compositions "irresponsible" for alternate tunings
  • Unusual instrumental combinations (saxophone quartet, piece for koto and Western orchestra)


Kaija Saariaho (IPA: [ˈkɑijɑ ‘sɑːriˌɑho]) (born October 14, 1952) is a Finnish composer.

Kaija Saariaho studied composition in Helsinki, Freiburg and Paris, where she has lived since 1982. Her studies and research at IRCAM have had a major influence on her music and her characteristically luxuriant and mysterious textures are often created by combining live music and electronics. Although much of her catalogue comprises chamber works, from the mid-nineties she has turned increasingly to larger forces and broader structures, such as the opera L’amour de loin, premiered at the 2000 Salzburg Festival (with a US premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in 2002), and Oltra mar for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic. Her second opera, Adriana Mater, was commissioned for the Opéra National de Paris’ 2006 season. Her second string quartet, Terra Memoria, was commissioned for the Emerson Quartet by Carnegie Hall for a June 2007 premiere.

Rite of Spring
The Rite of Spring, commonly referred to by its original French title, Le Sacre du Printemps (Russian: Весна священная, Vesna svjaščennaja) is a ballet with music by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, original choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, and original set design and costumes by archaeologist and painter Nicholas Roerich, all under impresario Serge Diaghilev. The music is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest, most influential, and most reproduced compositions in history.[citation needed] It is iconic for 20th century classical or avant garde European music, with innovative complex rhythmic structures, timbres, and use of dissonance. The scandal of a riot at its 1913 premier, caused by its innovative technique and content, made it one of the most internationally well-known and controversial works in performance history.

Wozzeck is the first opera by the Austrian composer Alban Berg. It was composed between 1914 and 1922 and first performed in 1925. Since then it has established a solid place for itself in the mainstream operatic tradition, and modern productions are consistently sold out. Though its musical style is challenging, the quality of Berg’s work (in particular, the characterization of the situation through clearly defined musical techniques) amply repays repeated listenings. Although a typical performance takes only slightly over an hour and a half, it is nevertheless an intense experience. The subject matter – the inevitability of hardship and exploitation for the poor – is brutal and uncompromisingly presented. Though Berg’s musical style is not as violent as some other composers might have written for this story, the style suits the subject matter.

Wozzeck is generally regarded as the first opera produced in the 20th century "avant garde" style and is also one of the most famous examples of employing atonality (music that avoids establishing a key). Berg was following in the footsteps of his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, by using free atonality to express emotions and even the thought processes of the characters on the stage. Not only was the expression of madness and alienation possible with atonal music, the greater themes of love and humanity and the striving of ordinary people for dignity in the face of abuse and brutality are marvellously portrayed in Berg’s music. Such is Berg’s skillful observation of real life that he is able to convey pictures of the ordinary (the scenes in a tavern – inside and outside Marie’s room) or the mundane (the snoring soldiers in their barracks). For these sections he drew on the style of popular folksong, using its rhythmic and melodic patterns in combination with his own harmonic and structural innovations.

Gesang der Jungliche

Gesang der Jünglinge (literally "Song of the Youths") is a noted electronic music work by Karlheinz Stockhausen. It was realized 1955-56 at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk studio in Cologne.

The work, routinely described as "the first masterpiece of electronic music" (Simms 1986, 391; Kohl 1998, 61) and "an opus, in the most emphatic sense of the term" (Decroupet and Ungeheuer 1998, 97), is significant in that it seamlessly integrates electronic sounds with the human voice by means of matching voice resonances with pitch, and creating sounds of phonemes electronically. In this way, for the first time ever it successfully brought together the two opposing worlds of the purely electronically generated German Elektronische Musik, and the French Musique Concrète, which transforms recordings of acoustical events. Gesang der Jünglinge is also noted for its early use of spatiality; it was originally in five-channel sound, which was later reduced to just four channels (mixed to monaural and later to stereo for commercial recording release). When composing Gesang der Jünglinge, Stockhausen attempted to expand on the earlier work of Anton Webern, and composed the piece as a work of Total serialism, serializing the pitch, duration, dynamics, and timbre of every electronic and vocal event.

There are three basic types of material used: (1) the recorded voice of a boy soprano, (2) electronically generated sine tones, (3) electronically generated pulses (clicks). Each of these may be composed along a scale running from discrete events to massed "complexes" structured statistically (Decroupet and Ungeheuer 1998). The last category occurs in Stockhausen’s electronic music for the first time in Gesang der Jünglinge, and originates in the course of studies Stockhausen took between 1954 and 1956 with Werner Meyer-Eppler at the University of Bonn.

The text of Gesang der Jünglinge is from a Biblical story in The Book of Daniel where Nebuchadnezzar throws Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into a fiery furnace but miraculously they are unharmed and begin to sing praises to God. This text is presented in a carefully devised scale of seven degrees of comprehensibility, an idea which also came from Werner Meyer-Eppler’s seminars (Stockhausen 1960; Heike 1999, 210–14).

4′ 33"

4′33″ (Four minutes, thirty-three seconds) is a three-movement composition[1][2] by American avant-garde composer John Cage (1912–1992). It was composed in 1952 for any instrument (or combination of instruments), and the score instructs the performer not to play the instrument during the entire duration of the piece. Although commonly perceived as "four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence",[3][4] the piece actually consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed.[5] Over the years, 4′33″ became Cage’s most famous and most controversial composition.[6]

Conceived in 1948, while Cage was working on Sonatas and Interludes,[6] 4′33″ was for Cage the epitome of aleatoric music and of his idea that any sounds constitute, or may constitute, music.[7] It was also a reflection of the influence of Zen Buddhism, which Cage studied since the late 1940s. In a 1982 interview, and on numerous other occasions, Cage stated that 4′33″ was, in his opinion, his most important work.[8]

In C

In C is an aleatoric musical piece composed by Terry Riley in 1964 for any number of people, although he suggests "a group of about 35 is desired if possible but smaller or larger groups will work"[1]. As its title suggests, it is in the key of C. It is a response to the abstract academic serialist techniques used by composers in the mid-twentieth century and is often cited as the first minimalist composition.

In C consists of 53 short, numbered musical phrases; each phrase may be repeated an arbitrary number of times. Each musician has control over which phrase he or she plays: players are encouraged to play the phrases starting at different times, even if they are playing the same phrase. The performance directions state that the musical ensemble should try to stay within two to three phrases of each other. The phrases must be played in order, although some may be skipped. As detailed in some editions of the score, it is customary for one musician ("traditionally played by a beautiful girl," Riley notes) to play the note C (in octaves) in repeated eighth notes. This functions as a metronome and is referred to as "The Pulse".

In C has no set duration; performances can last as little as fifteen minutes or as long as several hours, although Riley indicates "performances normally average between 45 minutes and an hour and a half." The number of performers may also vary between any two performances. The original recording of the piece was created by 11 musicians (through overdubbing, several dozen instruments were utilized), while a performance in 2006 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall featured 124 musicians.

The piece begins on a C major chord (patterns one through seven) with a strong emphasis on the mediant E and the entrance of the note F which begins a series of slow progressions to other chords suggesting a few subtle and ambiguous changes of key, the last pattern being an alteration between Bb and G. Though the polyphonic interplay of the various patterns against each other and themselves at different rhythmic displacements is of primary interest, the piece may be considered heterophonic.



Licht (Light), subtitled "The Seven Days of the Week," is a cycle of seven operas composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen which, in total, lasts over 29 hours.

The musical structure of the cycle is based on three counterpointed main melodies (or "formulas"), each associated with a central character. It follows the method of super-formula composition: these melodies define both the tonal centers and durations of scenes as a whole, as well as the melodic phrasing in detail. Each of the three central characters is also associated with an instrument: Michael with the trumpet, Eve with the basset-horn, and Lucifer with the trombone.

The Licht Superformula

The cycle is constructed modularly. Not only is each of the seven operas a self-sufficient work, but so are the individual acts, scenes, and—in some cases—portions of scenes. These modules may be segments (e.g., the eleven instrumental solo sections from Orchester-Finalisten from Mittwoch), or layers (e.g., the electronic Oktophonie layer from the second act of Dienstag or the Klavierstück XIII version of the first scene of Samstag (Luzifers Traum), with the bass voice omitted), or a combination of the two (e.g., the vocal sextet Menschen, hört and the Bassetsu-Trio, which are two layers of the "Karusel" subscene from Michaelion, the fourth scene of Mittwoch).

In 1977 Stockhausen sketched his plans for the most ambitious composition of his life. He began composing a cycle of seven operas, exploring the mythological and musical relationships of the seven weekdays. Twenty six years later the entire cycle, LICHT, was completed.

The whole cycle is composed from three melodies, each associated with a central character. The method of super-formula composition means that on the largest scale the notes of the melodies correspond to the tonal centres and durations of entire scenes, and within those scenes the melodies correspond to the drama itself. The detail of the music is of course also composed from the same melodic formulae, and the various musical layers, moving at different speeds, give the whole a ritual majesty often associated with Stockhausen’s most expansive music.



Pierrot lunaire
Pierrot Lunaire ("Moonstruck Pierrot" or "Pierrot in the moonlight"), Op. 21, is a melodrama by Arnold Schoenberg. It is a setting of twenty-one selected poems from Otto Erich Hartleben’s German translation of Albert Giraud’s cycle of French poems of the same name. The première of the work, which is between 35 and 40 minutes in length, was at the Berlin Choralion-saal on October 16, 1912, with Albertine Zehme as the vocalist.

The narrator (voice-type unspecified in the score, but traditionally performed by a soprano) delivers the poems in the Sprechstimme style, which complements the mood of the poems aurally. Schoenberg had previously used this combination of spoken text with instrumental accompaniment, called "melodrama", in the summer-wind narrative of the Gurre-Lieder,[1] and it was a genre much in vogue at the end of the nineteenth century.[2] The work is atonal, but does not use the twelve-tone technique that Schoenberg would devise eight years later.

Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima
Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (Tren ofiarom Hiroszimy in Polish) is a musical composition for 52 string instruments, composed in 1960 by Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933), which took third prize at the Grzegorz Fitelberg Composers’ Competition in Katowice in 1960. The piece swiftly attracted interest around the world and made its young composer famous. The piece—originally called 8’37" (at times also 8’26")—applies the sonoristic technique and rigors of specific counterpoint to an ensemble of strings treated unconventionally in terms of tone production. Penderecki later said "It existed only in my imagination, in a somewhat abstract way." When he heard an actual performance, "I was struck by the emotional charge of the work…I searched for associations and, in the end, I decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims". Tadeusz Zielinski made a similar point, writing in 1961, "While reading the score, one may admire Penderecki’s inventiveness and coloristic ingeniousness. Yet one cannot rightly evaluate the Threnody until it has been listened to, for only then does one face the amazing fact: all these effects have turned out to serve as a pretext to conceive a profound and dramatic work of art!" The piece tends to leave an impression both solemn and catastrophic, earning its classification as a threnody. On October 12, 1964, Penderecki wrote, "Let the Threnody express my firm belief that the sacrifice of Hiroshima will never be forgotten and lost."

The Blues is a vocal and instrumental form of music based on the use of the blue notes. It emerged as an accessible form of self-expression in African-American communities of the United States from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads.[1] The use of blue notes and the prominence of call-and-response patterns in the music and lyrics are indicative of African influence.

The blues influenced later American and Western popular music, as it became the roots of jazz, rhythm and blues, bluegrass and rock and roll. In the 1960s and 1970s, a hybrid form called blues rock developed from the combining of blues with various rock and roll forms.



Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that began as a loose association of Paris-based artists exhibiting their art publicly in the 1860s. The name of the movement is derived from the title of a Claude Monet work, Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant), which provoked the critic Louis Leroy to coin the term in a satiric review published in Le Charivari.

The impressionist movement in music was a movement in European classical music, mainly in France, that began in the late nineteenth century and continued into the middle of the twentieth century. Like its precursor in the visual arts, musical Impressionism focused on suggestion and atmosphere rather than strong emotion or the depiction of a story as in program music. Musical Impressionism occurred as a reaction to the excesses of the Romantic era. While this era was characterized by a dramatic use of the major and minor scale system, Impressionist music tends to make more use of dissonance and more uncommon scales such as the whole tone scale. Romantic composers also used long forms of music such as the symphony and concerto, while Impressionist composers favored short forms such as the nocturne, arabesque, and prelude.

Musical Impressionism was based in France, and the French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel are generally considered to be the two "great" Impressionists.



free jazz

Free jazz is an approach to jazz music that was first developed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Though the music produced by free jazz pioneers varied widely, the common feature was a dissatisfaction with the limitations of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz, which had developed in the 1940s and ’50s. Each in his or her own way, free jazz musicians attempted to alter, extend, or break down the conventions of jazz, often by discarding hitherto invariable features of jazz, such as fixed chord changes or tempos. While usually considered experimental and avant-garde, free jazz has also oppositely been conceived as an attempt to return jazz to its "primitive," often religious roots.

Free jazz is most strongly associated with the ’50s innovations of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and the later works of saxophonist John Coltrane. Other important pioneers included Eric Dolphy, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Bill Dixon, and Sun Ra.

Although today "free jazz" is the generally-used term, many other terms were used to describe the loosely-defined movement, including "avant-garde", "energy music" and "The New Thing" . Free jazz players were often said to be playing "outside" or "out" (as opposed to "inside", that is, conventionally).


Heinrich Schenker (June 19, 1868 – January 13, 1935) was a music theorist, best known for his approach to musical analysis, now usually called Schenkerian analysis.

In 1932, Schenker published Five Graphic Music Analyses (Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln), analyses of five works using the analytical technique of showing layers of greater and lesser musical detail that now bears his name. Following Schenker’s death, his theoretical work Free Composition (Der freie Satz, 1935) was published (first translated into English by T. H. Kreuger in 1960 as a dissertation at the University of Iowa; a second, better translation, by Ernst Oster, was published in 1979). Some English translations of his work have deleted passages that could be considered politically incorrect and irrelevant to the topic. For example, in the Preface to Counterpoint Schenker writes that "the man ranks above the woman, the producer is superior to the merchant or laborer, the head prevails over the foot," etc.

Other music theorists, for example Felix Salzer and Carl Schachter, both added to and disseminated Schenker’s ideas: by the 1960s Schenkerian analysis had begun to attract renewed interest, and by the 1980s it had become one of the main analytical methods used by many North American music theorists. While his theories have been increasingly challenged since mid-century for their rigidity and organicist ideology, the wider analytical tradition that they inspired has remained central to the study of tonal music.


Microtonal music may refer to all music which contains intervals smaller than the conventional contemporary Western semitone. The term implies music containing very small intervals but can include any tuning that differs from the western 12 tone equal temperament. By this definition, the following systems are microtonal: a diatonic scale in any meantone tuning; much Indonesian gamelan music; and Thai, Burmese, and African music which use 7 tones in each (approximate) octave. Hence, the term "microtonal" is used to describe music using intervals not found in 12-tone equal temperament, so these musics, as well as musics using just intonation, meantone temperament, or other alternative tunings may be considered microtonal.
ondes martenot
The ondes Martenot (IPA: [õd maʀtəno]; French for "Martenot waves"; also known as the ondium Martenot, Martenot and ondes musicales) is an early electronic musical instrument, invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot and originally very similar in sound to the Theremin.[citation needed] The sonic capabilities of the instrument were subsequently expanded by the addition of timbral controls and switchable loudspeakers. The instrument’s eerie wavering notes are oscillating frequencies produced by thermionic valves.
Minimalist music is an originally American genre of experimental or Downtown music named in the 1960s based mostly in consonant harmony, steady pulse (if not immobile drones), stasis and slow transformation, and often reiteration of musical phrases or smaller units such as figures, motifs, and cells. Starting in the early 1960s as a scruffy underground scene in San Francisco alternative spaces and New York lofts, minimalism spread to become the most popular experimental music style of the late 20th century. The movement originally involved dozens of composers, although only four—Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and, less visibly if more seminally, La Monte Young—emerged to become publicly associated with it in America.
In music, an Ostinato (derived from Italian: "stubborn", see also oscillation) is a motif or phrase which is persistently repeated in the same musical voice. The repeating idea may be a rhythmic pattern, part of a tune, or a complete melody.[1] Both "ostinatos" and "ostinati" are accepted English plural forms. Strictly speaking, ostinatos should have exact repetition, but in common usage, the term covers repetition with variation and development, such as the alteration of an ostinato line to fit changing harmonies or keys.

Sprechgesang and Sprechstimme (German for spoken-song and spoken-voice) are musical terms used to refer to an expressionist vocal technique that falls between singing and speaking. Though sometimes used interchangeably, sprechgesang is a term more directly related to the operatic recitative manner of singing (in which pitches are sung, but the articulation is rapid and loose like speech), whereas sprechstimme is closer to speech itself (not having emphasis on particular pitches)[1].

The earliest known use of the technique is in Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1897 melodrama Königskinder[citation needed], but it is more closely associated with the composers of the Second Viennese School. Arnold Schoenberg asks for the technique in a number of pieces: the part of the Speaker in Gurre-Lieder (1911) is written in his notation for Sprechstimme, but it was Pierrot Lunaire (1912) where he used it throughout and left a note attempting to explain the technique. Alban Berg adopted the technique and asked for it in parts of his operas Wozzeck and Lulu.


A synthesizer (or synthesiser) is an electronic instrument capable of producing a variety of sounds by generating and combining signals of different frequencies.

The first electric synthesizer was invented in 1876 by Elisha Gray, who is best known for his development of a telephone prototype.[1][2] Robert Moog created a revolutionary synthesizer which was used by Wendy Carlos’s Switched-On Bach (1968) a popular recording which introduced many musicians to the sound of synthesizers.

While musicology’s traditional subject has been the history and literature of Western art music, ethnomusicologists study all music as a human social and cultural phenomenon. The primary precursor to ethnomusicology, comparative musicology, emerged in the late 19th century and early 20th century through the practice of people such as Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály, Constantin Brǎiloiu, Vinko Zganec, Franjo Ksaver, Carl Stumpf, Erich von Hornbostel, Curt Sachs and Alexander J. Ellis[4]. Comparative musicology and early ethnomusicology tended to focus on non-Western music that was transmitted through oral traditions. But, in more recent years, the field has expanded to embrace all musical styles from all parts of the world.

Just as the periods of Mozart and Stravinsky saw an interest in building upon common-practice harmonic and contrapuntal techniques,[citation needed] so postmodern classicism seeks to enfold everything from ethnomusicology to total serialism to layered orchestrations and pop/world rhythms.[citation needed] Any techniques associated with the eclecticism of modern music worldwide is subject to use within this style, including the most arcane and traditional. Elements from world music and even so-called popular music have also provided techniques and means of expressions within new eclectic styles.


  • John Adams
  • Béla Bartók
  • Charles Ives
  • Steve Reich
  • George Rochberg
  • Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji

Jazz/Rock/Pop[citation needed]

  • The Beatles
  • Grateful Dead
  • Emerson, Lake and Palmer
  • Brian Eno
  • Pink Floyd
  • Charlie Parker
  • Jefferson Starship
  • Phish
  • Soundgarden
  • The Who
  • Widespread Panic
  • Yes
  • Frank Zappa


Expressionism as a musical genre is notoriously difficult to exactly define. It is, however, one of the most important movements of 20th Century music. The central figures of musical expressionism are Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils, Anton Webern and Alban Berg, the so-called Second Viennese School. The expressionist period can be associated loosely with Schoenberg’s atonal period, which can be found after he finally rejected tonality, but before he began composing according to the twelve-tone technique, although the extent to which clear divisions between periods can be made is debatable.
French-sixth chord

French sixth



The French sixth chord; the distinguishing tone is highlighted in blue. [image] French sixth repeated then moving to V. (help·info)

The French sixth (Fr + 6 or Fr[image]) is similar to the Italian, but with an additional tone, 2: 6, 1, 2, 4; A–C-D–F in C major. This chord is called "French" because its notes are all contained within the same whole tone scale, lending a sonority common to French music in the 19th century.

Italian-sixth chord

Italian sixth



The Italian sixth moving to V. [image] Italian sixth repeated then moving to V. (help·info)

The Italian sixth (It + 6 or It6) is derived from iv6 with an altered fourth scale degree, 4: 6, 1 and #4; A–C–F in C major. This is the only augmented sixth chord comprising just three distinct notes; in four-part writing, 1 is usually doubled, because it is the only stable member of the chord.

[edit] Examples

German-sixth chord

German sixth



The German sixth; the distinguishing tone is highlighted in blue. [image] German sixth repeated then moving to V. (help·info)

The German sixth (Gr + 6 or Ger[image]) is also like the Italian, but with an added tone 3: 6, 1, 3, 4; A–C-E–F in C major. In Classical music, however, it appears in much the same places as the other variants, though perhaps less used because of the contrapuntal difficulties outlined below. It appears frequently in the works of Beethoven.

It is more difficult to avoid parallel fifths when resolving a German sixth chord to the dominant, V. These parallel fifths, referred to as Mozart fifths, were occasionally accepted by common practice composers.