The history of the world is found in its music – sounds offer proof of the changing styles and public perceptions, the rise and fall of philosophies. There have been countless reawakenings of notes and their meanings; with civilizations forming lyrics with every century. Songs are reshaped, made to conform to new needs, and every era provides a wealth of melodies. But those melodies were never better defined than in the Common Practice Period, when music became more than a sermon or a theatrical servant. It instead was recognized as a separate importance, with individuals devoting their time and efforts to mastering it. It was the beginning of the classics.
The Common Practice Period, as it is typically defined, is the age of modern classical music. From the end of the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th, this age offered some of the most renowned composers (and compositions) the world has ever known. Its sounds are unrivaled; its influences are still felt; and its accomplishments were offered within its three eras: Baroque, Classical and Romantic.
Baroque: Witnessing the transition from religious chants to more secular sounds, the Baroque period began as the 16th century was coming to a close. This was a time of civil change, with the power of the Church beginning to shift. And, from this, classical music was formed. While still shaped to the familiar hymns, the instruments and structuring made for a far more accessible delivery.
Classical: after the Baroque period ended, the Classical era began. Lasting from 1730 to 1820, these years were noted for their contributions of the concerto and sonata, the dismissal of religious conventions and the reinvention of orchestras. It’s the age most clearly associated with classical music (hence the sharing of names).
Romantic: wishing to reinvigorate sound, the Romantic period began in 1820 and led music to the 20th century. Its frantic compositions, less formal structures and unique styling bridged once rigid melodies with today’s modern sensibilities. It’s recognized for its unconventional methods and technical prowess.
The Common Practice Period brought us classical music. It’s therefore to be respected.