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Common Time Music Definition Essay

The Blues Music Essay examples

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Different from other forms of music, blues was only recorded by memory and passed down through generations through live performances. The blues began in the North Mississippi Delta post Civil War times. It was heavily influenced by African roots, field hollers, ballads, church music and rhythmic dance tunes called jump-ups. This eventually developed into music that was set up in a call-and- response way so that the singer would sing a line and he would then respond with his guitar. The blues, a uniquely American art form, was born on the dusty street corners of the Deep South in the late 1800s. An evolution of West African music brought to the United States by slaves, created the blues which was a way for black people in the south…show more content…

This type of repetition is very common in blues composition and often resembles a form of story telling as blues music often provides an additional narrative within the song usually dealing with the hardships of life. Similar to the drums, the remainder of the instruments come together to create tension, which is then followed by release. The guitar often works in unison with the vocals, acting as a lead in the composition. Lastly, blues songs are usually set up in a 12-bar-structure, which is divided into three segments of four bars. These 12 bars are generally made up of three chords, whose main notes are based on the first, fourth, and fifth notes of an eight-note-scale. Additionally, one may find certain notes that are slightly flatted, which are known as “blue notes”. Blues songs are typically played in a 4/4 time signature, meaning that four beats are found in each measure.

The blues is home to many world famous artists such as Riley B. King, also known as B.B King, and McKinley Morganfield, also known as Muddy Waters. These artists were two very good examples of what the blues is meant to incorporate and their legacy has and will live long passed their deaths. B.B King is an American blue musician, singer, songwriter and guitarist, born on September 16th, 1925 in Beclair, Mississippi. He is considered to be one of the most influential blues musicians of all times, giving him the nicknames “The King of the Blues” as

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The nineteenth century brought great upheaval to Western societies. Democratic ideals and the Industrial Revolution swept through Europe and changed the daily lives of citizens at all levels. Struggles between the old world order and the new were the root causes of conflicts from the Napoleonic Wars to the American Civil War. From New York, to London, to Vienna, the world was changing and the consequences can still be felt to this day.

The lives of musicians, composers, and makers of musical instruments were greatly altered by these social changes. In earlier times, musicians were usually employed by either the church or the court and were merely servants to aristocratic circles. Composers wrote music for performances in these venues, and musical instrument makers produced instruments to be played by wealthy patrons or their servant musicians. With the rise of the middle class, more people wanted access to music performances and music education.

A new artistic aesthetic, Romanticism, replaced the ideals of order, symmetry, and form espoused by the classicists of the late eighteenth century. Romantics valued the natural world, idealized the life of the common man, rebelled against social conventions, and stressed the importance of the emotional in art. In music, Romanticism, along with new opportunities for earning a livelihood as a musician or composer, produced two seemingly opposite venues as the primary places for musical activity—the large theater and the parlor.

Music as Public Spectacle
One result of the Industrial Revolution was the creation of a middle class. This new economic strata consisted of a larger number of people with more disposable income and more leisure time than had ever existed before. Musical extravaganzas that triumphed the musician or composer gained popularity with the masses of concertgoers. Beginning with Beethoven, composers began to arrange large concerts in order to introduce their works to the public. As audiences desired more, composers wrote larger musical works and demanded more of performers and their instruments.

The “bigger is better” mentality led to new musical forms such as the tone poem and large-scale symphonic and operatic works. Orchestras grew, including larger string sections with a full complement of woodwinds, brass, and ever more percussion instruments. New types of orchestral winds (2003.150a–g) and brass (2002.190a–n) that allowed for greater facility and more accurate playing were introduced. Composers such as Hector Berlioz, and later Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner, continually pushed the limits of the available musical forms, performers, instruments, and performance spaces throughout the nineteenth century.

Musicians who could dazzle and amaze their audiences by their virtuosity became the first musical superstars. The two most famous nineteenth-century examples were the violinist Nicolò Paganini (1782–1840) and the pianist Franz Liszt (1811–1886). Both dazzled audiences throughout Europe with their performances, elevating the status of the musician from servant to demigod. Their fame grew throughout Europe, and their likenesses would be recorded in a variety of visual arts.

In order to withstand the virtuosic and often bombastic playing of these soloists, as well as to provide the type of volume needed in large concert venues, more powerful instruments were needed. Larger and louder violins like those by Antonio Stradivari (1644–1737) or Guarneri del Gesù (1698–1744)—preferred by Paganini—replaced the quieter and subtler violins of earlier masters like Jacob Stainer (ca. 1617–1683) or the Amati family. The demands of pianists like Franz Liszt pressed the technology and design of pianos to ever-larger instruments, eventually replacing the internal wooden structures of the eighteenth century with cast-iron frames that could withstand thousands of pounds of pressure.

Parlor Music
Conversely, music gained popularity in the intimate nineteenth-century parlor. At the time, home life was centered in the salon, or parlor, where children played and learned with adult supervision, and where the family entertained company. Musical performances for small groups of people became popular events, and some composers/performers were able to support themselves financially by performing in these small venues and attracting wealthy patrons. Most famous among these was Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849).

Music in the parlor was of a very different sort than in the concert hall. Solo performances and chamber music were popular, and included everything from operatic and orchestral transcriptions to sentimental love songs and ballads. In the United States, hymns and folk songs by composers like Stephen Foster (1826–1864) supplemented the European repertoire.

With the rise of the parlor as the center of family life, music education became increasingly important. Children were often taught to play musical instruments as part of a well-rounded education; for girls, playing an instrument was more important than learning to read. When guests and potential suitors visited, the children and teenagers would entertain with performances of the latest popular works.

All sorts of musical instruments were used in the home, and at various times the guitar, harp (2001.171), concertina, and banjo were extremely popular. However, the most important musical instrument in the home was the piano, because it was useful as both a solo instrument and as accompaniment to a group of singers or instrumentalists. To accommodate home use, smaller pianos were created, first square pianos and later uprights. Small pianos took up less space and, although they were not as powerful as larger types, they were also less expensive. With the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution, the mass manufacturing of musical instruments—especially pianos—provided a seemingly endless supply for the huge markets of both the United States and Europe. The piano would remain a central component of domestic life until it was replaced by the phonograph, radio, and television in the twentieth century.

Jayson Kerr Dobney
Department of Musical Instruments, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

October 2004