Music has developed tremendously throughout the years and today there are many traits in music which can be traced to older musical genres throughout history and throughout the world. A great deal of musicology is portrayed as dry and as being only concerned with music that is either Western fine arts music or music from other cultures. This is not at all the case. There has been extensive writing done on music from other time periods and, if you’re a musician, it’s important to understand how these historic forms link to the present. Some interesting eras to study include:
Ragtime: A genre of primarily piano-based music popular in the early 20th Century. The simple structure and melodies of these songs oftentimes belied virtuoso playing on the part of the performers.
Cabaret: Popular in France and other European nations today and in the past, this is an oftentimes mournful, sometimes raucous form of music that’s rich in sincerity and storytelling. Edith Pilaf’s “Mon Légionnaire” is one of the definitive pieces of this genre.
American Jazz: The Roaring 20s are most associated with this music, but its contributions to American culture throughout the 20th Century cannot be denied. The 50s and 60s were particularly interesting periods for jazz. This is one of the few forms of music that manages to bridge the gap between popular, counterculture music and fine arts, academy music.
Bluegrass: Another American original born out of the South. This music combines very simple structures with virtuoso playing at the level of any classical performer in the world. Some of the banjo and violin techniques used are unlike any others.
Rock: Rock music is more than commercial music. It has provided an important cultural voice to many different generations and exists in one form or another in most nations. Learn about rock music from other nations and compare it to the music with which you’re familiar.
Blues: One of the most basic forms of music that any musician has to study. Its innovative use of improvisation, the I-IV-V chord progression and its soulful lyrics make it one of the most popular and enduring of all genres. Some of the best improvisational musicians in history have come from this genre, and the genre continues to produce them today.
Overall you will find a great deal of interesting threads throughout the different music of history compared to the music today.
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