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20th Century

Music of the 20th Century

Starting with the World Fair at the end of the 19th century on to the internet at the conclusion of the 20th century, classical music has been greatly influenced by our world becoming smaller and smaller through technology. Just like Debussy's impressionist music was directly influenced by the Javanese Gamelan ensembles he saw, today's composers are being directly influenced by musicians across the world:
    •    American Jazz is extremely popular in Europe
    •    South African pop music has a huge following in the US
    •    American teens love film music accompanying their Japanese anime films
    •    Australian composers learn from their European counterparts in classical music
    •    American composers study with Indian classical musicians (like the Beatles did at one point)

    •    Children in Eastern Europe can explore the music of Brazil via the Net (and vice versa)
André Caplet with Claude Debussy
André Caplet with Claude Debussy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With such cross fertilization of music, and the ease in which a musician can create and distribute music electronically, classifying music will become more and more difficult.
There have actually been many new music movements in the last half century of classical music. While technology has made many aspects of composition much, much easier (I don't have to sit by candlelight and transcribe fifty parts by hand for the next orchestra rehearsal) and has led to a lot of laziness (especially for those that are not well-trained), classical composers that have been formally trained and use the technology to better their music (and not just substitute for bad music) have forged new musical ideas.

Here are a few of the musical movements in the 20th century:
    •    Minimalism 

    •    Neo-Romanticism
    •    Computer Music and Electroacoustic Music 
    •    Intermedia, Multimedia, Mixed Media
    •    Chance Music


What is exciting is that technology is constantly opening up new doors to sound and music. Everything has not been invented. There are new technologies, hybrid instruments, computer languages, world fusion forms, and contemporary jazz styles being incorporated into new music each day. It is almost impossible to keep up with!

Schoenberg's technique, albeit very unpleasing to listen to generally, gave birth to a compositional style that influenced all composers after him. His atonal theory is still studied today by composers. Even though strict serialism is not practiced very often any more (except in Japan and in some computer music), the techniques are used by almost all major composers in some way or another.












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