6.4- Early Modern Music

Innovations and Change

Composers, like visual artist rejected traditional conventions
The departure from conventions took 2 paths

  • The first path — change the definitions
    • Transform traditional ways of presenting Melody, harmony, meter, rhythm and timbre
  • The second path — the incorporation of the music of Africa
    • This had a profound impact on professional music making

Igor Stravinsky (Russian) 1882-1971


International career
Considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th Century
Early ballets based on Russian folk lore

  • His early work LeSacre du Printemp (The Rite of Spring)
    • Controversial and ground breaking
    • Harmonic shifts, changing meters, rhythmic surprises
    • Primal and violent sound
    • Lack of a harmonic center
    • Instruments played in unconventional ways
  • The story line
    • A pagan rite, where Siberian tribal elders select a young girl to dance herself to death as a sacrifice to the god of spring.

Watch the recreation of the original ballet that caused a riot at it’s premier!

Arnold Schoenberg (Austrian) 1874-1951

  • Took the dissonance and harmonic disorientation of Stravinsky one step further
  • Wrote music without any tonal center
  • Tonality was a “straitjacket’ of tradition, so he named his new innovation “atonality’
  • His music written before WW1 was not well received
  • Recognized that more structure was needed
  • Created 12 tone serialism, giving each note of the chromatic scale equal weight
  • Conceived of an order for each of the 12 tones and played this series of notes over and over in a sequence

Popular WorkA Survivor from Warsaw

Charles Ives (American) 1874-1954

  • An insurance executive and one of the leading innovate composers of his day
  • His music was distinctly American incorporating many
    • “American’ sounds
    • Fiddle tunes
    • Marches
    • Folk songs
    • Spirituals
    • Patriotic tunes
  • His work reflects an optimistic attitude
    • The goodness of mankind
    • Self reliance
    • Appreciation of nature

Popular Work 4th of July

Optional video – Unanswered Question: “A Cosmic Landscape’

American Jazz


Born out of the Southern United States
Based on the Rhythms and vocal music of Western Africa

  • Call and response – Optional video:

Jazz Beginnings [audio:ragtime.mp3]

  • A jazz piano composition
  • The left hand plays a steady beat
  • The right hand plays a syncopated melody

Scott Joplin (American) 1868-1917
Son of a Slave

  • Sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his composition “Maple Leaf Rag’
  • “Maple Leaf Rag’ became one of America’s first pop hits

Optional video:

Louis Armstrong (American) 1900-71

(Optional video on his life – full length)

  • Known as “Satchmo’
  • Stunning trumpet improvisations
  • Gravelly voice for singing
  • Vocal improvisational technique — “scat’
  • Composed very little music, but his performed improvisations were spontaneous compositions

Optional video:

Duke Ellington (American) 1899-1974

  • Pianist and band arranged
  • Conducted the Duke Ellington Orchestra, a “big band’
  • A swing band of about 15 musicians
  • Prolific composer and arranger
  • Popular work — C Jam Blues

Optional Video:

Satin Doll optional video:

George Gershwin (American) 1898-1937

  • Jewish background
  • Inspired by African American blues and jazz
  • An accomplished jazz pianist
  • Fused jazz with orchestral works and opera
  • Popular works Rhapsody in Blue

Optional Video:

Summertime from Porgy and Bess
Optional Video:

2 Responses to “6.4- Early Modern Music”

  1. Early Modern | ancoldeira writes:

    […] Early Modern Music. Web 24 March 2013. https://amtf200.community.uaf.edu/2009/04/24/04-music-5/ […]

  2. Early Modern Era | ezody writes:

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