Characteristics of Classical Music

The characteristics of Classical music aren't as easy to determine as you might think. Some listeners inappropriately lump all music of a certain sound signature into the Classical music category. There is a tendency to combine three main musical periods-the Baroque, Classical and Romantic-into one group known as "Classical." However, each of these periods has a unique note delivery that makes them distinct to the trained listener. In this article, we'll discover the main characteristics of Classical music that differentiates it from other periods.

How Classical Music Is Different From Other Periods
In the mid-1700s, Classical music rose from the complex and disjointed tradition of Baroque music to create an entirely new period. This period incorporated a balanced melody with a regularly recurring rhythm. The Classical music period also introduced the string quartet, which helps distinguish it from the Baroque period.

The String Quartet
The most common instrumental configuration of the string quartet contains two violins, one viola and one cello. The string quartet was prominently featured in the compositions of popular Classical composer Joseph Haydn, who is also known as "the father of string quartets." Because the string quartet is so important in Classical music, especially chamber music, it's hard to believe that the quartet was formed out of necessity instead of creativity. While under the employ of Baron Carl von Joseph Edler von Fürnberg, Haydn was pressed to compose new music. The only problem was that the only musicians available were two violinists, a violist and a cellist. This problem turned into a new invention-the cornerstone ensemble in chamber music.

Other Characteristics Of Classical Music
The melody in Classical music is symmetrical and defined, and it features a regular rhythm. The texture is homophonic in which two or more melodies come together in harmony. In the timbre, there is a noticeable absence of the harpsichord, which was used heavily for melody in Baroque compositions. The symphony orchestra is divided into four sections, strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion.

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