In the 20th century, the music in the west took on a drastic change. The years 1900 and 1913 brought radical new developments to the science and art of the west. During this period preceding the world war, discoveries were made and they overturned long held beliefs. Albert Einstein revolutionised the world with his theory of relativity while Sigmund Freud created psychoanalysis. Picasso developed cubism which present many angles of a person all at once and Wassily Kadinsky's abstract painting stop to represent the world at all. It was an age of self expression and maybe, selfish thoughts and desires are thought all right to be expressed.
In Music too, the 20th century was a time of revolt. the years follocing1900 saw more fundamental changes to the language of music more than any time since the beginning of the Baroque era. In 20th century, one saw the whole Western world sieged by percussive sounds. Percussive sounds were considered special, unique in its own sense and it took the Western world by storm(Not exactly in the positive way though) The premier of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, a ballet was attended by people in two different groups. one the radical who was ready to accept the change and the other, the conservative who refuse to accept the percussive sounds. The Conservatives booed and laughed and made animal noises in order to irritate those who fought to hear Stravinskys evocation of the primitive rites. One music critic even complained that the Rite of Spring produced the "sensation of acute and almost cruel dissonance. FROM the first measure to the last, whatever note one expects to hear never comes." Another critic also commented that" to say much of the music is hideous is too mild a description. It has no relationship to music at all as most of us understand the word."
Some of us might be amused how they could not face with such a masterpiece that is time-honoured among the people right now. But we have to understand that this is a transition period and people were not used to listening to atonal works. The Romantic era was still one with strict tonality and harmony and the 20th century works sounded vile to their ears.
In the 20th century, musical composition is not subjected to any formulae that is popular in the Baroque and Classical era. Every composition is an unique piece of self expression and no piece is similar to another. It is as if composers put their own thumbprint in their compositions. Every piece create a feeling of suspense dramas or surprises. 20th century pieces relies less on audiences expectation. Whatever one expects does not come and the 20th century audience are open to whatever music that was played to them and reserve their preference for later.
It is hard to describe the music of 20th century when we are still living in it and therefore, we limit it till the 1950s and 60s.
1900-1950 : Music Diversity
The range of musical style in the 20th century is vast. the stylistic diversity in the works of of Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Shoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Bela Bartok, Charles Ives, George Gershwin and Aaron Copland is a continuation and intensification of the diversity of romantic music. Radical style does not only differ from one composer to another. Changes of sound even occurred in one composer as he progresses.
Such great diversity in style is derived from that of modern life. Musicians and composers had their inspirations from not only Western folk music but their focus shift from that of the Western world to the Orient.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE 20TH CENTURY
20TH CENTURY - IMPRESSIONISM
20TH CENTURY - NEO-EXPRESSIONISM
TWELVE TONES OF 20TH CENTURY MUSIC
COMPOSERS FROM THE 20TH CENTURY