Intervals: Why they are important to the music we love Music 10 November 2010
Where did they come from? Intervals first appeared in music in the Middle Ages in Gregorian chant, and then in the Renaissance. Until the 9th century, harmony (intervals!) was frowned upon by the church, being considered the work of the Devil! When organum, the earliest form of harmony was invented to add a second voice to Gregorian chants, our fascination with intervals began. The intervals that were heard most often were P5 and P8. In order for harmony to exist, the two voices would have to sing different notes. The moodand quality of the music is very much affected by which intervals are used and how. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXR75n7OH7o
The Renaissance: More harmony, more fun In the Renaissance era (1400 – 1600), polyphony had become a huge part of music. Polyphony = 2 or more independent melodic voices. With 3 or 4 voices going at once, intervals were used everywhere to add density and fullness to the music. The advent of the triad: the use of P5s and thirds becomes the norm Dissonant intervals appear only in passing – not on downbeats http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8zQLMxum1s
The Baroque Era: Laying Down the Law... On Intervals Beginnings of SATB harmony: bottom and top voices “define” the harmonic contour. 3rds, P4s, P5s, 6ths, P8s most prevalent. Dissonant intervals used only as “suspensions” for resolution. Harmony now even denser Use of //5s and //8s outlawed because they take away from the independence of each part, are jarring to the ear, and because a melody harmonized by its 5th is merely a melody played in two different keys (Baroque music was very focused on ONE tonal centre – this would have given it TWO) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOSg7LFgt6Y
The Classical Era: It’s all about the melody In Classical Era music (1750 – 1820), the focus moved from polyphony to the melody. The “voices” working together was still very important, but all voices worked to serve and show off the melody within a piece of music. Composers still followed the harmonic rules set out in the Baroque era Used properly, intervals (in the form of chords) could in fact allow a composer to modulatefrom one key to another, giving the piece of music a sense of change and direction! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-e0fHUoKD8
The Romantic Era, 20th Century and Onward Romantic music still focused on melody and triad-based harmony, but embraced dissonance for the depth, emotion and sadness it added to their music. Beginning partway through the Romantic era and continuing today, harmony and the use of intervals began to change drastically. Tonal centres were no longer as important, and composers embraced dissonance All intervals were used with more freedom Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone music: abandonment of tonal centres http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZR4YQK8Idc&feature=fvst
Discussion Which style of music did you like the most, and why? Do you agree with the rules set forth in the Baroque era for composition? Should the writing of music be controlled that way? Why or why not? Where do you think the use of harmony and intervals will go in the future? Are we moving back to tonal music, or moving away?