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"Sure there is music even in the beauty,
and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument.
For there is music where ever there is a harmony, order, or proportion:
and thus far we may maintain the music of the spheres."
~ Sir Thomas Browne ~
Classical music is a broad term that usually refers to music produced in the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice period.
European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical forms by its system of staff notation.
Western staff notation is used by composers to describe to the performer the:
The public taste for and appreciation of classical music of this type came to be in the late 1900s in the United States and United Kingdom in particular.
|Periods Of European Music|
|Early||Common Practice||Modern and Contemporary||Medieval
(500 - 1400)
(1600 - 1760)
(1900 - 2000)
(1400 - 1600)
(1730 - 1820)
(1975 - present day)
(1815 - 1910)
The basic forces required for an orchestra became somewhat standardized (although they would grow as the potential of a wider array of instruments was developed in the following centuries).
Chamber music grew to include ensembles with as many as 8-10 performers for serenades. Opera continued to develop, with regional styles in Italy, France, and German-speaking lands predominating. The opera buffa, or comic opera, gained in popularity.
The symphony came into its own as a musical form, and the concerto was developed as a vehicle for displays of virtuoso playing skill. Orchestras no longer required a harpsichord (which had been part of the traditional continuo in the Baroque style), and were often led by the lead violinist (who we call the concertmaster).
The clarinet family of single reeds did not receive wide use until Mozart expanded its role in orchestral, chamber, and concerto settings.