Understanding Music

  1. C) Summarize the text in five paragraphs specifying the development of 1) opera, 2) operetta and musicals, 3) instrumental music, 4) Jazz and 5) rock.
  2. Give your own ideas concerning your understanding of ergonomics. Do it in written form (8-10 sentences).
  3. Music in Our Life


If we were asked to explain the purpose of music, our immediate reply might be "to give pleasure". That would not be far from the truth, but there are other considerations.

We might also define music as "expression in sound", or "the expression of thought and feeling in an aesthetic form", and still not arrive at an understanding of its true purpose. We do know, however, even if we are not fully conscious of it that music is a part of living that it has the power to awaken, in us sensations and emotions of a spiritual kind.

Listening to music can be an emotional experience or an intellectual exercise. If we succeed in blending the two; without excess in either case, we are on the road to gaining the ultimate pleasure from music. Haying mastered the gift of listening to, say, a Haydn symphony, the ear and mind should be ready to admit Mozart, then to absorb Beethoven, then Brahms. After that, the pathway to the works of later composers will be found to be less bramblestrewn than we at first imagined.

Music, like language, is a living, moving thing. In early .times organised music belonged to the church; later it became the property of the privileged few. Noble families took the best composers and the most talented performers into their service.

While the status of professional musicians advanced, amateur musicians found in music a satisfying means of self-


expression, and that form of expression broadened in scope to embrace forms and styles more readily digested by the masses.

It is noteworthy that operas at first were performed privately, that the first "commercial" operatic venture took place early in the seventeenth century, this leading to the opening of opera houses for the general public in many cities.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, composers were finding more and more inspiration of their heritage. The time had come to emancipate the music of their country from the domination of "foreign" concepts and conventions.

One of the first countries to raise the banner was Russia, which had various sources of material as bases of an independent musical repertory, Russian folk songs and the music of the old Russian Church.

The composer to champion this cause was Glinka, who submerged Western-European influences by establishing a new national school.

Glinka's immediate successor was Dargomizhsky, then Balakirev. His own creative output was comparatively small; he is best remembered as the driving force in establishing "The Mogutschaya Kuchka", a group which included Borodin, Cui, Moussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) worked independently and was the first Russian composer to win widespread international recognition.

It is a narrow line that divides Operetta from Musical Comedy, both blending music and the spoken word. When we think of operetta, such titles come to mind as The Gipsy Baron (Johann Strauss), The Merry Widow and The Count of Luxembourg (Lehar). Of recent years these have been replaced in popular labour by "Musicals" which placed more emphasis on unity and theatrical realism, such as Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music and West Side Story.

In early times instrumental music broke away from occasion associated i^hsaqred worship into secular channels. In succeeding genenations instrumental players were engaged to provide music forvarious public functions. Humble bands of players developed into small orchestras, these in time to symphony orchestras. Later, orchestras of the cafe type assumed in-creased numerical strength and more artistic responsibility, while "giving the public what it wants".



For many generations Band Music music played by military bands, brass bands, and pipe bands on the march, in public parks, and in concert halls has held its place in public favour, especially in Great Britain.

At the turn of the present century American popular music was still clinging to established European forms and conventions. Then a new stimulus arrived by way of the Afro-Americans who injected into their music-making African chants and rhythms which were the bases of their spirituals and work songs.

One of the first widespread Afro-American influences was Ragtime, essentially a style of syncopated piano-playing that reached its peak about 1910. Ragtime music provided the stimulus for the spontaneous development of jazz, a specialized style in music which by the year 1920 had become a dominating force in popular music, and New Orleans, one of the first cities to foster it.

In the early twenties America became caught up in a whirl 6f post-war gaiety. The hectic period would later be known as the Jazz Era. Soon jazz had begun its insistent migration across the world, while Black musicians of America were recognised as the true experts in the jazz field, the idiom attracted white musicians, who found it stimulating and profitable to form bands to play in the jazz style. Prominent among these white band-leaders were Paul Whiteman and George Gershwin, 7 whose 1924 Rapsody in Blue was the first popular jazz concerto.

While many self-appointed prophets were condemning jazz as vulgar, and ethers smugly foretelling its early death, some notable European composers attempted to weave the jazz idiom into their musical works. These included Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch.

(Here one is reminder & it several composers, including Debussy, Ravel, Liszt, Bizet and Richard Strauss, befriended the much-maligned saxophone, invented about the middle of the nineteenth century, and introduced it into Iheeoncert-hall)

Before we leave George Gershwin, we should mention his Porgy and Bess which brought something daringly different to opera: the music, Gershwin's own, sounds so authentically Afro-American, that it is surprising that this rich score was written by a white American.

We are forced to contemplate the fact, that notwithstanding the achievements of Debussy, Stravinsky and many others, the



experience of music in the western art tradition remains essentially unchanged. It's still composed by highly trained specialists and played by professional musicians in concert halls.

There was a time in the sixties when it looked as if the situation was about to be broken up by a new and revolutionary popular music of unprecedented and unexpected power. The so-called "Rock Revolution" began in fact in the mid-fifties, and was based firmly on the discontent of the youngejr generation who were in revolt against the values of their elders; naturally they espoused new musical values, and equally naturally these values represented'a negation of everything in the musical world their elders inhabited the virtual elimination of harmony, or at least its reduction to the few conventional progressions of the blues, an emphasis on the beat, new type of voice production owing much to sophisticated use of amplification and simplification of instrumental technique.

There followed rapidly an extraordinary musical eruption based on the percussive sound of the electric guitar, the rock'n'roll beat and blues harmony.

We should remember that the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and many other leading groups and individual performers from the early sixties onward based their music on the sound of electric guitars and percussion.

Now what? In this technological age it is not surprising that electronics should have invaded the field of music. This new phase has brought experiments intended to give music of the popular genre a new sound. Though many may be alarmed at such explorative tampering with sound, it must be admitted that the possibilities of electronically-produced music are immense. Never before has music all kinds of music been so popular. Never before has the world had greater need of its stimulation and comfort. We find the ultimate satisfaction in music, be it "classical" or "popular", when we have learnt how to reject the spurious and accept the genuine; when we have learnt how to listen.


1. Asyou read the text a) took for the answers to theses questions:


1. What is the purpose of music in your opinion? Can music be defined in only one way? 2. In what genres did the music develop? 3. What was the Russian contribution to the art of music? 4. In what way did instrumental music become engaged for


various functions? 5. What created the development of jazz and who facilitated the development? 6. How did the youth of the 60-s respond to the highly trained specialist and professional music? 7. In your opinion should musicians have musical training? 8. What do you know about the Beatles and their contribution to the pop-music world? 9. In-your opinion how will the technological age through radio, television and video influence the world of music ?


b) Find in the text the facts the author gives to illustrate the following:


1. Music like language is a living moving thing. 2. Music may be used as the lines of communication between people. 3. Jazz does not cling to dance rhythms any longer, as the 20th century European music reflects African rhythms.


: 2015-01-29; : 12;

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