|Rousseau places clearly recognizable images, with virtually no distortion, into contexts which surprise us.||1910|
NEO-CLASSICISM was a prominent part of Western music between the two world wars, a time when stability and tradition were generally more valued than experimentation and avant-garde views. It grows from Primitivism, and is a reaction to the newness of Impressionism and Expressionism and the excesses of late Romanticism, which was still active. It tends to be absolute music, consciously based upon traditions of the Common Practice Period, particularly the Baroque and Classical eras.
Characteristic features include balance, objectivity, economy, and clarity. In spite of its obvious intent of classical parody, with frequent musical quotation, Neo-classic music still sounds fresh and new, never relying on exact mimicry of older styles. Neo-classicism was once considered the pre-eminent 20th century style (prior to 1950), and there were many composers who wrote music under its influence. A related style, Neo-romanticism, likewise follows this model of "re-visiting" older musical styles.
The term Neo-classicism can apply to several other disciplines besides music.
43.2 COMPOSERS ASSOCIATED WITH NEO-CLASSICISM
43.3 MUSICAL ELEMENTS
In the Common Practice Period: The essential organization is around a single pitch, the tonic, which provides a home base to the ear. All other pitches work to establish the pre-eminence of tonic. Furthermore, an organization of phrases (generally made up of 4, 8, or 16 measures) expand the establishment of tonic; all phrases end with a cadence which confirms this sense of tonic.
In the Common Practice Period: The essential vocabulary is a diatonic pattern of seven stepwise pitches called major and minor scales. Chromatic pitches, the remaining five, can be used, but only to enhance the diatonic ones.
In the Common Practice Period: The essential texture is created with counterpoint, which is two or more simultaneous individual and independent lines, each of which confirms the pre-eminence of tonic and utilizes the vocabulary of a major or minor scale.
In the Common Practice Period: The essential sonority (chord) is consonant and is a group of three notes (a triad) arranged in thirds (tertian). Dissonance is used, which could be a group of four notes arranged in thirds (a tertian tetrad) or non-chordal embellishments (passing and neighboring tones, suspensions, and pedals, among others). All dissonances are required to resolve.
In the Common Practice Period: The essential time organization is based on a consistent and unchanging beat. These beats organize into 2, 3, or 4 essential pulses per measure, with the first beat always the strongest. Each beat can sub-divide into two parts (simple meters) or three parts (compound meters).
Analyze the pitch materials and phrase design, and locate all the musical elements that are typical, characteristic, or unique to Neo-classicism in the following pieces in Music for Analysis:
Write an Neo-classic piece for piano, one page or less, which is a complete musical thought of at least two irregular phrases of at least 5 measures. Consider the musicality of your work; Neo-classical composers usually employ thin, somewhat spare textures. While there is much dissonance, the overwhelming effect is one of consonance. Play back your work on the computer through MIDI (or better yet, have someone perform it for you on the piano) to guide you. The final result must be playable.
To prepare this writing assignment properly, use the notation guidelines appendix, located at Basic Principles of Music Notation, Semester IV.
Submit a MIDI file via email in addition to a print-out of the project. Include the following:
The grading for this project:
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