What each period has brought us:
- Many musical instruments, from prehistoric times, even if we do not know nothing of the repertoire they served: drums and tambourines, simple flutes or double, horns and trumpets, harps of all sizes, bells, castanets, and even small hydraulic organs, if we believe the frescoes found in the Eastern Roman Empire.
- The principle of different "modes" of varying heights, with meanings symbols used by the monks of the Christian Middle Ages, and by some composers of the Twentieth century.
- The principle of sung plays, which we will find later in our culture from the birth of opera, in Italy, at the beginning of the 17th century. - All the popular repertoire, preserved and brought to us by oral tradition, such as Greek folklore, Cretan, or more widely folklore around the Mediterranean.
THE MIDDLE AGE
A perfect and coherent musical notation, the first in human history, always in use today.
- The musical instruments of the Orient: the family of the ropes rubbed, the family of oboe, bassoons, ancestors of the clarinet, and many percussions.
- Vocal polyphony, that is to say the art of singing with several voices, which seems to have been unknown in all previous cultures.
The tonal harmony, that is to say the widespread use of agreements similar to those we use today.
- The systematic use, in polyphony, of the four mixed voices of bass, tenor, viola and soprane, which always form the basis of the current vocal writing.
- The appearance of the bar of measurement, which begins to divide the musical discourse in parts equal.
- The return of women's voices in sacred music, and the appearance of the Mass, the Requiem, and Stabat Mater as organized musical forms.
- Significant technical progress in the manufacture of instruments, as well as the birth of spruce (or virginal), ancestor of the harpsichord.
THE BAROQUE (late 16th century to 1750)
- The birth of true instrumental music, with the appearance of the harpsichord, large organs, slide trombones (sacqueboute in the Renaissance), oboe, bassoon, baroque trumpet, and especially the violin which finds its definitive form.
- The generalization, especially in Italy, of public concerts, open to all, and no longer reserved for a small elite.
- The appearance, in Italy, of the Concerto form, and, all over Europe simultaneously, of the Instrumental or orchestral suite.
- The appearance, in Italy always, of the Oratorio and the Opera, preceded by Openings intended to silence the public noisy of the time.
- The birth of the Cantata in Germany.
THE CLASSIC (from 1750 to 1797, date of Beethoven's "Sonata pathétique")
- The widespread use, as early as 1750, of the pianoforte, that also of the clarinet, and the systematic introduction towards the end of the century of timbales in the orchestra symphonic.
- The birth of the Symphony, and the Sonata Form with two themes, which will have extensions to our time.
- The complete disappearance of the basso continuo on the harpsichord, which released the melody and lightened the highly charged harmonies of the previous era. Despite its short duration, it is a crucial period for centuries to come.
ROMANTISM (from 1797 to the beginning of the 20th century)
- The extraordinary development of the pianoforte, which became the piano while perfecting and by equipping itself with the system of double exhaust. The arrival in the second half of century of the family of saxophones.
- The notion of free instrumental virtuosity, whether on piano or violin.
- The notion of accursed artist, musician, painter or writer, but also that of artist engaged politically.
- The birth of the modern symphony orchestra of 100 or more performers, the use of important choral masses, as well as the addition of choruses in some symphonies (Beethoven, Mahler).
- The appearance of totally free forms, like the lied, the ballad, the nocturnal, the impromptu, the musical moment, and the symphonic poem.
- The extraordinary rise of the Opéra-comique and the Operetta, and the appearance of the Opening potpourri, a kind of summary of the tunes of the choirs to come in the opera.
MODERN PERIOD (State of the art today)
- The birth of a new conception of the beautiful, independent of the notion of prettiness and harmony.
- The return, after the big choral and orchestral masses of Romanticism, to small vocal and instrumental formations.
- The search for instrumental timbre for itself, from classical instruments (new gaming techniques, new flute technique, for example), or worked in studio, and great importance given to traditional percussion.
- The generalization of the employment of saxophones.
- The diversion of instruments (percussion on violins, for example) and even use musical of various objects (typewriters, jet engines ...)
- The birth of the serial system, which pulverized at the beginning of the century the organization of the system tonal, and many composers still claim to be
- The systematic use of dissonances and polytonality, while remaining within of the tonal system, that is to say, attached to the range of do
- The appearance of electronic instruments, such as the Martenot waves, and use frequent of the so-called electro-acoustic music, worked in studio, and making great use,
in the process of composition, computers and synthesizers.
- The return to the popular roots of scholarly music, and the most distant folklores (irregular measures, foreign intervals).
- The frequent return to the empty fifths, the accentuations and the "modes" of the Middle Age, themselves inheritors of the ancient "modes", but with in our time a dressing harmonic and instrumental.
- And, from the beginning of the twentieth century, frequent borrowing music of the East, in instrumentation of course but also in the use of tiny intervals, eighths or sixteenths of your tone.
It is often called "modern period", the period covering the beginning of the 20th until the years 1940-1950 with composers not yet in serial or other music music exploding the great classical rules.