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This means that a piece of music was not in a particular key based on a major or minor scale. Instead, it was in a particular mode. A mode may look very much like a scale, since it lists the notes that are "allowed" in the piece of music and defines the tonic of the music. But a mode is usually also a collection of melodies, melodic phrases, or patterns that are found in that mode and not others since the various modes are more different from each other than the various scales.
Modes also may imply or suggest specific moods or they may be meant to have particular effects on the character of the listener. Different keys may also evoke different moods, but the main purpose of a key is to define the chords and harmonic progressions that will be expected from a piece of music. From the Renaissance to the present day, most Western music has tended to be tonal. Tonal music is music in which the progression of the melody and harmony gives the strong feeling that the piece has a note and chord that are its "home base", so to speak the tonic of the key.
Imagine how frustrating it would be to end that tune without singing the last note or playing the final chord. If you did this, most people would be so dissatisfied that they might supply that last note for you. That note is the tonal center of the tune, and without it, there is a feeling that the song has not reached its proper resting place.
In tonal music, just about any melody is allowed, as long as it fits into the harmonies as they wander away from and then head back to their home base. Most Western tonal music is based on major and minor scales, both of which easily give that strongly tonal feeling. Some other scales, such as blues scales , also work well within a tonal framework, but others, such as whole-tone scales , do not. Most of the Western music that is popular today is tonal, but around the beginning of the twentieth century, composers of "Classical" or Art music see below began experimenting with methods of composing atonal music.
As the name implies, atonal music treats all notes and harmonies as equal and in fact tries to avoid melodies and harmonies that will make the piece sound tonal. One type of atonal music is twelve-tone music, which seeks to use each of the notes of the chromatic scale equally. Other pieces may even dispense with the idea that music has to consist of notes; compositions may be collections of sounds and silences.
Since the music is not organized by the familiar rules of Western music, many people have trouble appreciating atonal music without some help or study. Music can be more or less tonal without becoming completely atonal, however. Music that does not stray at all from its key is called diatonic. Many Western children's songs, folk songs, and pop songs are in this category.
But composers often add some notes or even whole sections of music that are from a different key, to make the music a little more complex and interesting. Music that goes even further, and freely uses all the notes of the chromatic scale , but still manages to have a tonal "home", is called chromatic. Music that has more than one tonal center at the same time Ives was particularly fond of this composition technique is called polytonal.
Popular music is, by definition, music that appeals to many people. You don't have to know anything about music to like a pop tune - it's "catchy". Art music is a catch-all term for any music that is enjoyed by a smaller crowd. This can include the more challenging types of jazz and rock music, as well as Classical. Most people agree that the appreciation of art music requires some study, careful listening, or other extra effort. But it can be harder to agree on what exactly belongs in this category.
This is at least partly because popular tastes do change.
For example, most operas were written to be popular, middle-class entertainments, and artists such as Liszt and Paganini enjoyed rock-star-like fame and popularity in their day. Today, however, nineteenth century operas are no longer considered popular entertainment, and popular works that could technically be considered opera - except for the fact that they are written in popular musical styles - are instead grouped with musicals.
As another example, ragtime was wildly popular during Scott Joplin's lifetime. It later fell out of favor and was known only to some jazz connoisseurs. Then in the 's it became popular again.
Classical music is a confusing term with more than one meaning. In the visual arts, the term classical refers to ancient Greece and Rome. In the 's, Western Europeans became very interested in the ancient classical style, which was imitated by many artists, sculptors, and architects.
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Art historians call that period the neoclassical "new classical". Unfortunately, nobody really knows what the music of ancient times sounded like. So instead of being influenced by the sound of ancient Greek music, eighteenth-century composers were influenced by the ideals of classical art. The music of Mozart, Haydn, and the early works of Beethoven are in this style, which we call classical rather than neoclassical, because the original classical music of ancient Greece and Rome is lost.
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And actually, it probably would sound very exotic and Non-Western to us if we could listen to it! So the original classical music comes from one fairly short era. The other great composers of Western music lived during other periods: Bach and Handel were Baroque era composers, for example; Brahms and Wagner, Romantic; and Ravel and Debussy, Impressionist. But most people do not know which music is from which period.
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So all of the music of the great Western composers of the past as well as modern art music that is part of the same tradition is lumped together and called classical. The art music of other cultures is also often called classical; for example, people speak of the classical music of India.
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The terms "folk music" and "pop music" also have more than one meaning. The folk music of a culture is the music that is passed down from one generation to the next, often without writing it down.
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It includes many different kinds of music: lullabies and children's singing games, tunes that everyone enjoys singing together or dancing to, songs for celebrations, ceremonies, and holidays. Folk music can gradually change as it gets passed along. Usually nobody remembers who originally wrote it, or who changed it, and there may be more than one version of any particular folk song. A broad philosophical treatment, with essays on the term Volkslied , on origins postulated: part of the original, harmonious layer of human culture , oral tradition, early history of folk songs, and a variety of specific topics as diverse as calendric songs and Latvian folk song.
Ferris, William, and Mary L. Hart, eds. Folk Music and Modern Sound. Lectures presented at a conference at the University of Mississippi, 17—19 April Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, Ling, Jan. A History of European Folk Music. Intended as a textbook. A nice introduction to folk music in general, followed by an eclectic survey of folk music genres defined by function not by geography.
Nettl, Bruno. Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents. Revised by Valerie Goertzen. First published in Intended as an accessible survey, organized geographically. However, the introductory matter is an extraordinarily clear and careful discussion of basic aspects of folk music. Also, this third edition contains bibliographies for many corners of the topic that, while now dated, remain very handy. Porter, James.
A general introduction to the musical repertoires of immigrants, with penetrating analysis of types of musical repertoires and, especially, processes of change that imported repertoires have experienced. Here, the impact of Brexit will be felt immediately. That subject has particular resonance for Lankum, a band who weave politics subtly through their bible-black, poetic songs.
Of all modern folk bands, Lankum are the most full-throttle, jaw-dropping bunch. Signed to indie titans Rough Trade in , where they are the favourite band of label-mates Sleaford Mods , they mix stunning versions of traditional songs with modern originals about poverty and injustice — as well as more raucous jigs about drunkenness and strange old men. Their sound is uncompromisingly experimental at times. They love Krautrock: Neu! Lankum began as a punky folk project between the brothers in — back then, they were known as Lynched. Radie and her schoolfriend Cormac, who was brought up playing and singing folk, joined later.
Recognition came quickly with a performance on Later With Jools Holland , and then came the prospect of an American tour. Before it, however, they changed their name — eyebrows had been raised among their fans in that country, and they listened. But if we wanted to take our music in the way that we wanted to take it, we had to think about everything. With some Donegal fiddle music, all right! Something Ian said earlier, over the crisps, lingers in my mind. And that feels pretty radical in this day and age. She is wearing a cloche hat, a secondhand coat cloaking her small bones, and her face has a resting expression that suggests, strongly, that you would not want to mess.
But then she takes her drink and starts talking, and you fall into her world. And then you think of that voice when she sings, and what she says lingers a little deeper. She sings sparsely arranged songs about past times that still resonate, often the stories of women. I want to be sitting in a feeling, exploring it. She likes to couch difficult subjects within natural images: she loves writing about birds, the seasons and dreams.