Classical Music Analysis

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The Classical era in music encompasses the latter half of the eighteenth century and the early decades of the nineteenth century. During this time, the rule of strong aristocrats continued through Europe. Louis XV presided over Versailles, while Frederick the Great ruled Prussia, Maria Theresa ruled Austria, and Catherine the Great ruled Russia. In such societies, the ruling class enjoyed its power through hereditary right, passed down from one generation to the next. At the same time, a new economic power was growing through the Industrial Revolution, which gathered momentum in the mid-eighteenth century through a series of important inventions. There were also significant advances in science and intellectual life during this time. The Classical…show more content…
Many of these classical melodies "sing," even those intended for instruments. They are typically based on symmetrical four-bar phrases marked by clear-cut cadences, and they often move stepwise or by small leaps within a narrow range. Clarity is further provided by repetition and the frequent use of sequence. These devices make for balanced structures that are readily accessible to the listener. The harmonies that sustain the melodies are equally clear. Chords are built from the seven tones of the major or minor scale and therefore are firmly rooted in the key. The chords underline the balanced symmetry of phrases and cadences, and they form vertical columns of sound over which the melody unfolds freely, generally in a homophonic texture. Much of the music is in one of the four basic meters, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, or 6/8, and moves at a steady tempo. If a piece or movement begins in a certain meter, it usually stays there until the end. Rhythm works closely with melody and harmony to make the symmetrical phrase-and-cadence structure of the piece clear. Well-defined sections establish the home key, move to contrasting but closely related keys, and return to the home key. The result is the beautifully molded architectural forms of the Classical style. Despite its aristocratic elegance, music of the Classical era absorbed a variety of folk and popular elements. This influence made itself felt not only in the German dances, minuets, and waltzes of the Viennese masters but also in their songs, symphonies, concertos, string quartets, and
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