Term Paper: Music of the Twentieth Century

Pages: 3 (1016 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] One composer, Berlioz, did not use a piano like most romantic composers; he used other instruments, and helped move the music to a new level. One critic said of Berlioz, "He knew the instruments, their capabilities and limitations, and he opened new avenues of tonecolor, discovered the relation between different emotions and instrumental timbres, and created a new orchestral language" (Bauer and Peyser 47). This willingness to grow and change musically is a common thread throughout musical history, and shows how experimentation in one century can lead to change and growth in another. Creating more "modern" classical music in the Nineteenth Century led directly to more experimentation in the Twentieth. Berlioz's work opened up doors for other composers to explore and invent, including masters such as Liszt, Wagner, and Bizet.

Composers have always been revered by society, and the part they play in the social fabric of a time is incredibly significant. The music of Copland and Gershwin embodies an age in American culture, just as the music of Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman embodies another time and place. Good composers can "feel" the time and place, and create music that embodies the spirit of the country and the people. This was never more evident than after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when people suddenly wanted to hear patriotic melodies, and several composers complied by writing touching tributes to America and the victims of the attacks. Composers have always created music that spoke of the people and the times, and as such, they are mirrors of society, and change in society. Jazz came about because the lifestyle of the people was changing, and they needed music that reflected these changes. Rap came about for the same reason, and so did rock and roll. All of these forms of music came about at the right time. Composers recognized the societal changes, and were not afraid to change with them.

Music can touch a place in a person's soul, and this is another reason composers who can feel what the people are feeling are so important. Music is woven into the fabric of our lives. We marry to special music, are buried with special music, and remember certain music of the past by the memories it evokes. Music, and the people who write it, are a vital part of society at every level, and at every stage in a person's life. We tend to look back at the music of our youth with fondness, which is one reason music of the past can sometimes resurge, such as the current cult popularity of swing bands, such as Big Bad Voo Doo Daddies, Manhattan Transfer, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

In conclusion, music has always evolved and changed how we listen to it. One critic said, "Reviewing the popular music of the twentieth century as a whole, most people would probably agree that some of it is excellent, some unbearable, and most of it very indifferent" (Van der Merwe… [END OF PREVIEW]

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