Discussion Questions on Music History - Paper Example

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1)    The 19th Century (at least 200 words total)

a. Define and discuss the concept of Romanticism as it applies to the musical culture of Europe during the 19th century. Write at least one paragraph with a minimum of 100 words.

Romanticism was an epic in the history of art, which began in the 18th century and spread to the 19th century. It was a marked a departure of artists including musicians from the restrictions of enlightenment and rationalization of nature in their works (Wood, 2010). The artists strived to emphasize the role of emotion as an important aspect of the artistic experience. The romanticists stressed on different aspects of emotion including horror, awe, and trepidation as ways of giving meaning to the sublimity of nature. The bigger is better mentality characterized this period and resulted in new forms of music including operatic works, tone poem, and large-scale symphonic (Wood, 2010). Different types of instruments were introduced into music, which enabled greater and more accurate playing. In this era, superstars were made of musicians who could dazzle and amaze their audiences during performances.

b. Compare the musical conventions of Italian opera (Rossini, Verdi, or Puccini) with those of German opera (Wagner). Discuss a particular operatic scene or musical excerpt from each tradition. Write at least one paragraph with a minimum of 100 words.

Verdis opera style was dissimilar to that of Wagners. Verdis composed his opera with the singers in mind. Through Verdis opera, it was possible for singers to display their skills such as soaring melodies (Balthazar, 2013). Therefore, this form of musical art revolutionized entertainment that thrilled the audience. Contrary to Verdi, Wagner perceived opera as a form of social ritual where people gather to witness the magnanimity of art without necessarily getting involved in it. Wagner appeared to maintain the full control of his opera (Balthazar, 2013). In essence, he was the composer, determined the staging and lighting and even created the performance space thus being completely insensitive if the singers and audience.

2. The 20th and 21st Centuries (at least 200 words total)

a. Discuss one of the following terms: 1) Modernism or 2) Postmodernism, as it applies to the musical cultures of Europe and/or the United States during the 20th/21st centuries. Write at least one paragraph with a minimum of 100 words.

Postmodernism marked a new era in human conception characterized by interrogation of what constitutes reality (Khosravishakib, 2012). People pursued issues beyond their scientific meanings in this period. They recognized the fact that human understanding of reality is not solely based on how they viewed it. In music, postmodernism influenced both musical condition and style (Khosravishakib, 2012). As a musical style, postmodernism ushered in characteristics of postmodern art including eclecticism in form and genre. The music of this era combine features from various musical genres. They also employed jump-cut sectionalisation including blocks. The postmodern music transcends the limitations of genres to portray a lack of one particular style.

b. Define and discuss one of the following terms: Expressionism, Primitivism, Serialism, Neoclassicism, Neo-romanticism, Aleatory Music, or Minimalism as it applies to the music of the 20th/21st centuries. Include a detailed discussion of a particular musical example. Write at least one paragraph with a minimum of 100 words.

Expressionism was primarily a German artistic movement that was characterized by ruthless expression of distasteful emotions. It involved incredibly pushing ideas or treatment of subjects with a particular level of parody. Its primary intent was to dig deep into the depths of the psyche by extending it from one extreme to the other (Crawford & Crawford, 1993). Expressionism was achieved in music in a variety of ways including the use of hyper-expressive harmonies, uniquely high melodious leaps and the use of instruments in the extreme registers (Crawford & Crawford, 1993). The song Hidden Place by Bjork is a typical expressionist son in which she encapsulates the feelings of nostalgic love and acting to be in agony. She actively captures the sublimation of love in a way that the audience can relate the performance and words to remain emotionally attached to the song.

3. Jazz (at least 200 words total)

a. Define and discuss your view of the term fusion as it applies to jazz; your definition may incorporate musical, socioeconomic, and/or cultural issues. Write at least one paragraph with a minimum of 100 words.

Fusion in jazz is the combination of different styles and genres to produce a new form of music. For instance, the artist can mix some aspects of jazz harmony with other styles including funk and rock (Fellezs, 2011). Despite the fact that each music has its different element that gives it the basis for being classified into respective genres, the elements can be extracted and recombined with jazz music to produce a district piece of music (Fellezs, 2011). For instance, a fusion of rock and jazz, the former genre of music provides power, rhythms, and simplicity to the resultant music. The use of musical instruments familiar with rock music powers the ultimate blend of jazz.

b. Discuss the idea of improvisation as the central tenet of the jazz aesthetic. Choose a specific musical example and provide a detailed discussion of the improvisation that takes place within your selected performance/recording. Write at least one paragraph with a minimum of 100 words.

Jazz is a musical genre that started among the African Americans living in communities the New Orleans. It is an epitome of freedom not only in song composition but also in the performance (Syad, 2014). Musical improvisation is thus a central aspect in the development and spread of jazz. It involves the freedom of the singer to create unique characters during the performance that were not pre-conceived. Improvisation brings together a performance with communication of emotions and instruments while on stage to produce a unique presentation different from the rehearsed musical versions (Syad, 2014). It is an expression of the vast sense of freedom at work that integrates creativity, involvement, and collaboration with the circumstances under which they perform (audience and space).

4. World Music (at least 200 words total)

a. Select a musical culture or genre (other than one from the United States or England) and discuss how your selected musical culture or genre has influenced music in the United States. Include a discussion of a specific musical example in support of your answer. Write at least one paragraph with a minimum of 100 words.

Reggae music that has its roots in Jamaica has a significant influence on the development of rap and hip-hop music in the United States. Toasting also called DJ style, which is elements of reggae spread from Jamaica to New York. The DJ culture from Jamaica coupled with the urban elements formed the basis of the rap music and hip-hop culture of the 1970s (Marshall, 2007). The ties between hip-hop and reggae culture are indicative of common points between them. The first point of similarity between the two cultures is that they emerged from an era of oppression and reflect the sensibility of the urban blacks in the ghettos. Second, the two cultures revolt against the establishment. The rap music uses invigorating beats and themes dominated by lust and partying which are closely tied to the Jamaican dancehall, which is a sparse version of reggae (Marshall, 2007). For instance, Kendrick Lamars Blacker the Berry has a boom bap beat with its lyrics celebrating African Americans and rebelling against racism and hypocrisy.

b. Select a musical genre or style from the United States and discuss how your selection has influenced a musical culture outside of North America. Include a discussion of a particular musical example. Write at least one paragraph with a minimum of 100 words.

Hip-hop music that has its original in the United States and the United Kingdom has substantially influenced the development and performance of music of other genres. One of the musical styles that have infused elements of hip-hop and salsa is rumba (Katz, 2010). Though Rumba originated from Cuba, it has integrated some elements of pop culture including blending both music and dance, vocal and rhythmic improvisation. Just like hip-hop does not have clear-cut in the elements of compositions and performance, rumba embraces a smooth combination of music, poetry, and dance intended to produce a unique performance (Katz, 2010). Some of the key aspects of pop culture that have also been included in rumba include provocative dancing and polyrhythmic drumming. Gloria Estefans song "I'm not giving you up" is a typical rumba-infused with hip-hop. The song has rich harmonies, beats influenced with hip-hop and ethereal lyrics.


Balthazar, S. L. (2013). Historical dictionary of opera. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Crawford, J. C., & Crawford, D. L. (1993). Expressionism in twentieth-century music. Bloomington [u.a.: Indiana Univ. Press.

Fellezs, K. (2011). Birds of fire: Jazz, rock, funk, and the creation of fusion. Durham: Duke University Press.

Katz, M. (2010). Groove music: The art and culture of the hip-hop DJ. Oxford University Press.

Khosravishakib, M. (2012). The Contributions Of Postmodernism Methodology As A Prevailing Practice On Ground Of Humanities Sciences. International Journal of Arts, 2(1), 1-5.

Marshall, W. G. (2007). Routes, Rap, And Reggae: Hearing The Histories Of Hip-Hop And Reggae Together. Ph. D. University of WisconsinMadison.

Syad, M. S. (2014). Jazz aesthetic form in Toni Morrison's" Jazz."

Wood, G. D. A. (2010). Romanticism And Music Culture In Britain, 1770-1840: Virtue And Virtuosity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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