Where Is All The Tunes?



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We have come to place music into two broad categories; that relating to New Music and that of Traditional Music. Music prior to the turn of the century has come to be thought of as the original. This Traditional Music gets lumped together in what most people refer to as Classical. This classification is so well fixed in people's minds that even traditional rock music referred to as Classic Rock.

The so called Classical Music is actually about three different periods that were all different in their practice. Having said that, there are some differences in the background music after the turn from the century that are distinctive enough to warrant the label of New Music.

Prior to the turn of the century, all music was 'goal oriented' or 'tonal,' which means that there was one chord within the particular composition that has been the goal or resting reason for the music's chord progression. When this chord was reached, the songs sounded finished along with the music would not sound finished until this chord was reached. Hence this chord would show-up at the very end of the music but in addition at the ends coming from all phrases or melodies, basically. It would not be the same chord for every single piece of music but is based on the 'key' of the music. This is the meaning of 'key.' If the piece of music is incorporated in the 'key of C,' then this chord it must end on is C. A work in the 'key of G' would end on G and so on.

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Well. after a 100 years or so, composers got the itch to try something new and so we find the first examples of the newest Music. Claude Debussy has often been referred to as 'Father of Modern Music,' and his works began to make tonality ambiguous by making use of other types of scales like the Whole Tone Scale.

Some composers went beyond this and tossed out tonality as a whole. The most notable example of this was the Serial Music composed by Arnold Schoenberg. Serial Music used a scale of twelve tones (rather than the traditional eight) and studiously avoided any note/chord relationship. Another composers like John Cage created what was called 'Chance Music,' the location where the notes in the piece were based on the throw of dice.

Meanwhile, as of this same time, jazz had been made. Jazz and Blues returned to tonality using a vengeance. However there were many other elements added that qualified this as New Music. The difference in instrumentation, together with the electric guitar and the greatly expanded role with the drums were certainly things that had not gone on before and the birth of jazz and its particular development into the pop of today certainly fits into the category of New Music.