Music Language and History in Western Culture

What type of musical line is the most recognizable, memorable one that you are most likely to leave the concert whistling?

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Melody is the most recognizable type of musical line because it is a combination of musical tones (pitch and rhythm) perceived by a listener as a single entity, so it is easier to remember and reproduce.

Distinguish between a “half step” and a “whole step” in western music.

In Western music, a half step is the smallest interval between any note and the immediately adjacent chromatic note. A whole step, on the other hand, consists of two half steps.

In music, what does the word “tonic” refer to?

In music, the word ‘tonic’ refers to the first and the last note of the scale used to compose a music piece (Briggs 194); it is of the highest importance in the musical piece since all other notes relate to it to some extent.

In music, what does the word “timbre” refer to?

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Timbre refers to the most recognizable characteristics of a certain sound (apart from loudness, pitch, etc.). For example, if one is to play the same note on a harp and the guitar, it is possible to differentiate between the same sounds produced by different instruments.

List the instruments of the standard modern symphony orchestra, arranged by instrument family, and descending in order of highest to lowest sounding within each group.

Instruments of the standard modern symphony orchestra include:

  • Strings: bass, violin, cello, and viola;
  • Woodwinds: bassoon, flute, oboe, and clarinet;
  • Brass: tuba, French horn, trumpet, and trombone;
  • Percussion: timpani.

TRUE OR FALSE: The Medieval period was a relatively peaceful time, and wealth was distributed among the population more evenly than in the US today.

The argument is completely false because the Medieval period was characterized by the dramatic decline of population, counter-urbanization, the uneven distribution of wealth and resources, plague, the disappearance of educational value (“Middle Ages” par. 6).

Why is the monophonic sacred music of the Medieval period referred to as “Gregorian Chant”?

Gregorian Chants got their name from Pope Gregory instructing scribes to explore the Roman Empire and note the different chants used by the people from different territories.

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Describe the earliest forms of polyphony

The two first earliest forms of polyphony were cantus firmus and parallel motion. While cantus firmus was essentially a monophonic chant that was used in augmentation, parallel motion implied the use of two voices that moved in the same consonant but with an interval apart.

Name one painter, one scientist, one founder of Lutheranism, and three composers from the Renaissance Period.

The Renaissance Period was characterized by the rapid development of arts and sciences, and the most well-known personalities of that period were:

  • Painters: Donatello, Botticelli, da Vinci, Titian, Raphael;
  • Scientists: da Vinci, Galileo, Descartes, Copernicus;
  • Founder of Lutheranism: Martin Luther;
  • Composers: Des Prez, Monteverdi, Byrd, Gabrieli.

What two events mark the beginning and end of the Baroque period in music, and what years correspond to each event?

Two historical events marked the beginning and the end of the Baroque period of music. While the advent of the Italian Opera in 1600 marked the beginning, the death of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1750 marked the end of the Baroque period of music.

What does the word “Baroque” literally mean, and why was this term eventually applied to aspects of culture from this time?

The word “Baroque” means an “imperfect pearl.” While in the beginning, the term was used to describe an exaggerated and overly pompous style of different art forms; consequently, Baroque began to refer to the period of history as a whole.

Briefly describe the invention of “equal temperament” in the Baroque period

The invention of equal temperament in the Baroque period can be described by a shift in instrument tuning, which allowed for playing an instrument in different keys without retuning.

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Define “monody”, and discuss its significance at the beginning of the Baroque

Monody is defined as a “musical texture with an ornate melody for one singer” (“Baroque Terms” 2), which is accompanied by an instrument and can further transform into an opera with multiple singers.

Works Cited

“Baroque Terms.” Wmich, Web.

“Middle Ages.” History, Web.

Briggs, Kendall Durelle. The language and Materials of Music. Heritage Press, 2011.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Music Language and History in Western Culture'. 9 May.

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