Our music changes through the years, Freddie Mercury once sang. That part of the lyrics is indeed, true, as music has definitely gone through various movements and changed over the past 2000 years.
What it looks like today couldn’t have been imagined a long time ago, and things we take for granted were someone’s greatest work. It is important to take a step back and examine music through the years, the different times and culture surrounding music.
Early, Pre-Renaissance Music
This period is a bit different from the rest, given the lack of instruments at the time. Yes, there were some trumpets, recorders and other wind instruments, yet there were almost no string instruments. This period is often considered up to the year 1400 or 1420, according to some historians. The compositions of the time were made specifically for the human voice, with some music on the wind instruments. The church had a large influence at the time. Some famous composers of the time are Hildegard of Bingen and Guido d’Arezzo.
The renaissance period encompassed music, art and literature. It means rebirth and many great things came to be during this period, between the years 1400 and 1600. Of the many composers of the time, a couple of names easily stand out, like Josquin de Prez, Palestrina and Allegri. It’s interesting that many of these composers come from Italy, which makes sense, due to the Catholic church having the finances to back up the musicians. The Renaissance was marked by printed music and by a slight shift from Christian music.
From the year 1600 to 1750 comes the period of Baroque music. This period is marked by many great composers like Bach, Vivaldi and Handel. They have composed so much music that it would take entire books to write about that. People still know of Bouree, the Four Seasons and Water Music, each from their respective authors. Many of these compositions are featured in everyday things like advertisements or even sports matches. Concertos and operas marked this period, shifting towards orchestral music rather than Christian.
When talking about old music, many people talk about this period, knowingly or unknowingly. From 1750 to 1820. This period was marked by Haydn and Mozart. Sonatas were popular at the time, written for a single instrument, but mostly the piano because it was introduced during the time. This period coincided with the Enlightenment, which was also transferred to the music. There are so many composers from this period, but another one deserves a special mention, Beethoven, even though his coming marked the end of Classical music and the start of the Romantic period.
This does not mean love songs but represents a movement which took place from 1820 until the 20th century. This period, like the previous one, was full of great composers, Beethoven, Wagner, Liszt, Verdi, Chopin, Strauss, and so many more. Symphonies and virtuoso musicians were present at the time. The end of the Romantic period is important, as it led the way to the Modernism, which is what we still have today, plenty of different genres and approaches to music.
Music changed through the centuries, from simple choir compositions to operas, sonatas, concertos, symphonies and today, everything. Music will still evolve, and into what exactly, we will have to wait and see.