Timeline

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The Latin word Cantata means “to sing”, the word Sonata means “to play.” That last title is vague enough to cover a multitude of instrumental genres. Vocal music comes with a built-in structure for the composer to follow.

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The word opera literally translates as the word “work;” it’s the plural of the noun opus. The dramatic form of opera has its roots deep within the aristocratic culture of early 16th Century Florence, Italy.

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The aesthetic basis of baroque music, from Monteverdi to J. S. Bach, was greatly influenced by a concept called the doctrine of affections.

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There are individuals in music history that stand as pillars, whose life and work help us delineate the various eras of musical practice. One such individual was the Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi, whose work marks the boundary between the renaissance and the baroque.

The Renaissance was a time of re-birth as science and the arts changed the face of culture. However, some old ideas persisted in the midst of this change; especially beliefs about the roles and intellectual capacity of the genders. Even though the Renaissance saw many female heads of state, it was still held as common knowledge that women were inferior to men, physically, mentally and artistically. As a result, we have very few examples of female composers during this period of music history. There is an exception though, the work of Maddalena Casulana.

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This week, we will explore the influence of the 16th century madrigal and discuss its place in the music leading up to the Baroque.

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In this week’s episode, we’ll explore the influence the reformation and counter-reformation had on the world of music including the work of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

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In this episode we will explore the development of imitation or canon as a tool of harmony and musical form, especially in the works of Josquin Deprez and Johannes Ockeghem.

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In 1450, Johannes Gutenburg made history in Europe with his moveable type printing press. Thanks to his process and his machine, the printed word was able to spread across the Western world.

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This week, we’ll discuss the music of the 15th century French composer Guillaume Dufay and how the lines that defined secular and sacred music began to blur in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance.

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There are moments in music history, like all history, that stand as dividing lines. Once they happened, nothing could ever be the same.

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Though the church was instrumental in the development of musical notation, it was not the sole arbiter of music in medieval times.  The high middle ages were also the time of the troubadours or trouveres; French composers and performers of secular lyric poetry and song beginning in the late 11th Century.

Engraving by W. Marshall from "Fuller's Holy State", published 1648.

Hildegard of Bingen was a writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, abbess, polymath and a literal visionary of the 12th Century.

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Have you ever been to a restaurant and heard an off-brand version of the popular “Happy Birthday To You” song? The reason why a restaurant would choose to use that version, rather than the traditional “Happy Birthday To You,” is because, until recently, that song was protected under copyright.

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Guido de Arezzo was one of the first music theorists in our western musical tradition.

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It’s easy to take for granted this ability to take a piece of music and understand it instantly, but this wasn’t always the case. Let’s explore the birth of modern musical notation and the history of this elegant practice.

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There is a long history of connection between the world of music and the world of mathematics.

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The art of writing down melodies, preserving sound in time, was not something that was first invented just 1,000 years ago. Humans have made music for most of our history, let's explore some of the earliest examples of musical notation. The first comes to us from a culture that’s nearly 3,400 years old.

We are excited to announce a new educational series on VPR Classical: Timeline is an exploration into the development of Western music. Take a journey into the events, characters and concepts that shaped our Western musical tradition. Hosted by VPR Classical's James Stewart, we’ll start from the very beginning and trace the steps of music through history.

Starting Monday, April 27, broadcasts Mondays at 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 10 a.m., and Fridays at 7 a.m.

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