Archive for the ‘Music History’ Category

Information, knowledge and communications are all part of the internet world and anyone can learn a new skill from the comfort of their own home. If you want to learn to play piano, it just got a whole lot easier, now you can order a piano software course for beginners, online, and get started within minutes. If you do a search on the internet, you will find lots of piano software courses offering various degrees of advancement and prices, but you don’t need to spend a fortune.

Piano software courses and online piano lessons are the modern way to learn how to play the piano. Learning to play the piano is not exactly easy whether you use software or a teacher but using software is cheap, easy and you can do it anytime you want.

Learning to play the piano using software or learning online is fast becoming the most popular way to learn the piano, here are three good reasons you should start learning today:

Have piano lessons at a time that suits you

Trying to organise your work time and free time has always been awkward for busy people, and having to go to a piano teacher at the same every week is just out of question. If you use a piano software course to learn to play the piano, it certainly won’t help you to organise your time more efficiently, but it will help you to learn the piano when you do have free time, in other words you choose your own time and if you use a laptop your own place, anywhere in the world.

Piano software is such a good invention because allows busy adults to have a go at playing the piano. If you are always on the go and you are having piano lessons with a teacher, then you will have to cancel a lot of lessons, and that’s not good for you or the teacher. It’s obviously going to be more difficult for a busy adult to keep to a regular lesson schedule and that’s why piano software is such a brilliant invention.

We have already discussed that if you don’t have the time to practice or use your piano software it doesn’t matter. So you might well ask what’s the point in trying to learn. Well, the point is, you are using your free time more effectively, all right, you might not have practiced for a while but when you do get free time, you can immerse yourself into the task at hand and you can spend hours or days learning to play and using what I call quality practice time. It’s better than snatching half an hour here and there.

Good value for money

Another great benefit of piano software is the cost; it’s a fraction of what it costs to go to a piano teacher. The average cost of piano lessons in the UK is about ten to fifteen pounds for half hour lessons and twenty to thirty pounds for hour lessons and you can add petrol costs to those figures. If you have a broadband connection, you can download piano courses to your computer after payment. Prices vary for piano software packages; they start at about twenty pounds and go up to a hundred pounds.

Take control of your piano lessons

When you are in charge, you won’t be able to use any excuses for not learning to play the piano because you will make all the decisions. These software courses offer everything for the absolute novice and will guide you through to a more advanced stage of playing the piano. You can discover the right piano for you just by logging on to the World Wide Web, there are lots of portable keyboards for sale online and there’s even a roll up piano, which is the ultimate in portability.

As good as piano software is, it will be useless unless you practice, it might be easier these days to learn how to play but it’s not magic, in fact practice is probably the most important part of the whole process.

Mikes Music Room Recommends PIANOFORALL Piano Software Course for beginners wishing to learn how to play the piano. This course is very competitively priced at $39.95 and comes with a 60-day money back guarantee.

Learn To Play Piano

If you would like to find more information about this course, you can visit the PIANOFORALL website.  The creator of this piano course Robin Hall, who is also a piano teacher, will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

PiensP posted:

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Acoustic pianos have been around for about 500 years, giving the piano a long history of providing music. Despite numerous attempts to create an instrument that involved strings and a hammer, Bartolomeo Cristofori was the one who is credited with actually inventing the first acoustic piano.

The First Pianos

Cristofori built several pianos, but no one is precisely sure of when the first was created. We do know that the Medici family had one of the pianos in 1700, and evidence suggests that it was built in 1698. These early pianos were quite different from those of the modern music world, but they were a truly great invention for their time.

The difficulty with pianos was that the hammer needed to hit the wire, then return to its original place without bouncing and yet be ready to go again within moments. This was finally achieved and Cristofori managed to find a way to create this effect.

The Growing Popularity of the Piano

Despite his hard work, Cristofori was not able to make his new instrument famous. Then, in 1711, a diagram of his design was distributed and more people began to build pianos. One of them was a man named Silbermann who added the first damper pedal to enhance the sound. It was he who showed Bach his first piano, though Bach decided he didn’t like it at the time and only showed interest much later, once the instrument was refined.

In the 18th century, the Viennese began to construct pianos. These were built differently, with dual strings for the notes, leather covered hammers and elegant wooden frames. The keys were the opposite colors of today’s pianos, with the regular keys being black and the others white. Mozart used these Viennese pianos to compose his music at the time. These are now referred to as fortepianos, to differentiate them from the modern piano.

Modernization of the Piano

As the Industrial Revolution made new technology available, it became possible to build pianos with heavier strings, made of stainless steel, for a fuller, stronger sound. The size was also amplified, making it possible to have seven or more octaves, as opposed to the original five or the fortepiano.

Broadwood was the first company to build these more complex pianos, though the Viennese piano makers quickly followed suit. It wasn’t long however, before France got involved in the creation of bigger and better pianos. In 1821, Èrard began to manufacture the pianos that would be used by the likes of Chopin.

This is also the time when the double pilot action was invented by Sebastian Èrard and incorporated into the grand piano, making it possible to hit a key again even if the hammer had not yet returned to its place. This mechanism is used to this day in grand pianos.

Modern Piano Innovations

The modern piano uses a soundboard and a metal frame that allows for heavier string tension resulting in stronger sound. This has allowed for string tension of up to a combined 20 tons, something that never would have been possible in the earlier wood frame pianos.

In 1826, the usual leather covered hammers were replaced with felt covered ones by Henri Pape. This allowed for more uniform sounds and the ability to experiment with different hammer types.

A few years later, in 1844, Jean Louis Boisselot introduced the sostenuto pedal which made drastic improvements to the piano sound quality. Around this time, there were experiments being done with the methods of stringing the piano. Eventually, a new method was developed that involved three strings per note and a special double level soundboard to allow for the fit of longer strings.

The piano has come a long way in the past 500 years. From a simple, soft instrument that was a novelty to a strong and very popular one, the piano has really come into its own.

Merriam Music is one of the most respected and renowned music stores in Toronto. When researching for piano stores Toronto be sure to check out Merriam Music’s huge selection of digital and acoustic pianos. Merriam’s Music School also offers piano lessons Toronto to students of any age.

Bach and Handel each in their own way were a great influence on later generations of composers. Both of them, in their own personal way, summed up the major styles of European music. Handel cultivated a concerto that was based the style of Correlli and Bach cultivated a concerto that was based on the style of Vivaldi. Handel perfected the Italian opera and the English Oratorio, while Bach perfected the cantata, the German Passion, and the Latin mass.

Handel’s music relies more on melody and Bach’s relies more on counterpoint. This is not to say that Bach couldn’t compose good melodies or that Handel couldn’t write good counterpoint. It is merely a general observation. Also Bach relied more on phrasing while Handel relied more on dynamics. Although they were both quite adept at using contrasts of texture to create interest, this technique was more important in Handel’s music. Handel’s music, for the most part, is more vocally oriented, and Bach’s music is more instrumentally oriented. They both were masters of the great European styles of their time, but Handel was much more influenced by the Italian style than Bach, and Bach was more influenced by the German style. It should also be mentioned that Handel’s music is easier to perform than Bach’s. This is certainly one reason that Bach’s music was not as popular in his lifetime as was that of Handel.

Let’s discuss Bach’s influence first. The most widely disseminated work of his in his own lifetime was the Well Tempered Clavier, a huge work, in two volumes, each volume containing a prelude and fugue in every major and minor key, totaling 48 pairs of preludes and fugues. This work is intended to be didactic as well as entertaining to the keyboard player. It was Bach’s intention that the player of these wonderful pieces would not only find them entertaining and joyful to play, but also would gain, from performing them, insight into compositional techniques, especially counterpoint. Many keyboard teachers were still using the WTC a generation after Bach’s death, indeed, even Chopin’s piano teacher was using this book in the early nineteenth century.

The Well Tempered Clavier of Johann Sebastian Bach is one the most seminal works of music ever produced. Generations of composers learned the art of counterpoint by playing and studying this great collection of preludes and fugues. Most of Bach’s music was ignored until the latter half of the nineteenth century when the Bach revival got underway. However certain works of Bach, most notably, The Well Tempered Clavier, were kept alive by a small circle of intellectuals. A man by the name Baron Van Swieten was among these great musical connoisseurs. He hired the twenty-six year-old composer, Wolfgang Mozart to direct his small orchestra during his weekly private concerts which were held on Sunday afternoons. He loaned Mozart a copy of the WTC so that he could study and play it in his leisure time. He paid Mozart to arrange some of the fugues of the WTC for string trio. Mozart was amazed by the genius of this work. It was a profound crisis in Mozart’s life to discover such extraordinary contrapuntal music, the likes of which he had never known. Suddenly his counterpoint, which was always very good, became even better. His counterpoint kept getting more and more complex after his encounter with the WTC.

At the age of thirty three Mozart heard one of the Bach motets and was transfixed by its intricate complexity and great beauty. The choirmaster at Leipzig gave Mozart a copy of the score to all six of the Bach motets. He kept these for the rest of his short life, (he had less than three years left to live) treasuring them like the precious jewels they are. They were a profound influence on his late style. In the last two years of his life Mozart’s counterpoint became even more exquisite and complex than before.

As for Beethoven, he was raised on Bach’s WTC. He could play through book one in its entirety when he was only eight years old. Despite the fact that Beethoven knew the WTC and most other keyboard music of Bach thoroughly, he was not particularly adept at counterpoint, at least not in his early years. Being interested in the more homophonic style in vogue at the time, the expressiveness in his music relied more on thematic relationships, harmonic movement, and transformation of motifs. Also I would say that Beethoven relied more on rhythmic iteration and rhythmic transition than any other composer. Nonetheless, his early experience with Bach’s keyboard music, especially the WTC, was invaluable for him. In his later years, wanting to compose certain pieces in a more contrapuntal style, Beethoven worked hard at mastering counterpoint. He returned to the music of Bach and Handel, and even studied Palestrina. In his late music, he developed a style of counterpoint that is more reminiscent of Handel than Bach. His fugues in his late period are very rhythmic in nature and quite unique in the history of music. He was found of using fugue themes with repeated notes and rather angular outlines. In the last decade of his life Beethoven proved himself to be a capable contrapuntalist, even though it can be said that his counterpoint is sometimes a bit awkward. The ungainliness of his counterpoint actually gives it a certain power, a sense of struggle, unique to his music, and at times even quite charming. It may be hard to assess how much he gained from Bach and how much from Handel. He seems outwardly to have been more influenced by Handel but his knowledge of Bach’s keyboard music was certainly invaluable to him. It is hard to say how much of Bach’s vocal music Beethoven had seen. He wrote letters to publishers between 1810 and 1824 requesting them to send him copies of the B-minor Mass but it is not known if he ever received any copy of it. Beethoven had access to the libraries of private collectors such as the Archduke Rudolph, Baron Van Swieten, and others. In these private libraries he could have read many vocal works by Bach, Handel, and other composers.

As mentioned above, Chopin’s piano teacher had his students play the WTC. Chopin loved and respected this great tome his entire life. On that famous trip he took with George Sand, to Majorca, it was the only music he took with him. The influence of the WTC on Chopin was profound. Most people don’t think of Chopin as a contrapuntist, and it is true that one does not find much in the way of imitative counterpoint in his music. He never composed any fugues, except as an academic exercise when he was still quite young, and there are not many canons by Chopin. However it can, and should, be said that Chopin’s counterpoint is exquisite. No other piano music in the entire nineteenth century has such smooth voice-leading. The inner voices in his music are almost as melodically interesting as the bass and treble voices, and the music has a transparency that allows one to hear each separate line clearly. Each voice in his piano music, flows mellifluously and smoothly, with never an awkward measure. The influence of the WTC on Chopin should not be underestimated.

Of course it goes without saying that Brahms was influenced by Bach. More than any other composer, Brahms studied the music of previous composers. He was certainly very fond of Handel but he absolutely loved Bach. Brahms was, perhaps, the greatest contrapuntist of the nineteenth century and to this he owed a certain debt to Bach. Schumann also loved Bach and paid homage to him in his Six pieces in Canonic form, opus 56. Schumann recommended playing one prelude and fugue from the WTC per day. As for Mendelssohn, Bach’s influence on Mendelssohn can be most easily seen in his preludes and fugues, which are somewhat reminiscent of some of the preludes and fugues in the WTC.

The music of J.S. Bach was kept alive only by a small circle of intellectuals until the Bach revival that was kicked of by Felix Mendelssohn with his historic performance of The St Mathew Passion in March of 1829. Bach’s vocal and instrumental music was gradually becoming more available in print since the last decade of the eighteenth century but Mendelssohn created a greater awareness of the greatness of his music. Then in 1850,on the hundredth anniversary of Bach’s death, the Bach Society was formed in Germany. The Bach Society’s raison d’etre was to publish every extant work of J.S. Bach. This huge project was not completed until the very end of the nineteenth century.

Handel’s influence on later generations was perhaps more direct. His operas and oratorios are very appealing. He certainly knew how to please a crowd, yet there is so much more than mere pandering to the masses in his music. His juxtapositions of strongly contrasting textures, his carefully times use of dynamics, his beautiful melodies, and his ability to eke out so much expressiveness from one motif, make his music a virtual compendium of compositional technique.

Although Mozart knew only a small fraction of Bach’s music, he was thoroughly familiar with the music of Handel. During his childhood trip to England he became well acquainted with Handel’s music and he never lost his taste for it. To anyone familiar with Mozart’s liturgical music, it is obvious that his knowledge of Handel was deep and thorough. You can hear Handel’s influence in some of Mozart’s early works, such as The Solemn Vespers, and in later works such as the C minor mass and the Requiem mass. In fact, the opening page of Mozart’s Requiem, beautiful as it is, is merely a reworking of the opening choral movement of Handel’s funeral music for Queen Caroline. And the glorious double fugue in the Kyrie from the Requiem, uses as one of its two themes, a slightly altered version of the theme that Handel used for “With his Stripes, We are Healed” from his “Messiah.”

By far, the major influence of Handel on later generations was through his oratorios, the most famous of which is “Messiah.” Baron Von Swieten (mentioned above) commissioned Mozart to re-orchestrate this great work as well as Handel’s “Acis and Galatea,” “Alexander’s Feast,” and “Ode for St Cecilia’s Day.” “Messiah” is the most thinly scored of Handel’s oratorios, mostly because he was writing it for the city of Dublin, and having never visited that city, did not know what instruments would be available. Messiah is scored for the basic Baroque orchestra, which consists of strings, oboes, and bassoons, with trumpets and kettledrums reserved for the more celebrative numbers. Not only did Mozart add many instruments to the score but he altered many of the arias. Some of them he cut short, or altered certain passages. In some of the arias Mozart changed the harmonic structure. But in the choral movements, he made few changes other than adding instruments to double each voice in the choir. He did the same to “Acis and Galatea.” Also, “Acis and Galatea” Mozart added an instrumental countermelody to each aria. These marvelous works would have survived without the Mozart versions, however they became even greater masterpieces when reworked by Mozart. The popularity of Handel’s “Messiah” is not to be underestimated. It was immensely popular in his day and has remained so, influencing many composers, especially Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn’s two oratorios are obviously influenced greatly by Handel.

As mentioned above there can be found a certain Handelain influence in Beethoven’s music. Many of Beethoven’s grand themes sound as if they could have been written by Handel. A good example is the main theme to the Consecration of the House overture. More than once in his life Beethoven expressed his opinion that Handel was the greatest composer who ever lived. It should be mentioned, however, that Beethoven knew very little of Bach’s music outside of the keyboard works.

In general, the nineteenth century, composers were influenced by the grandeur and power of Handel and the exquisite, complex counterpoint of Bach. The most creative of these composers were able to incorporate into their own unique style what they learned from these masters. Bach and Handel were both incredible in their own right, and they were also seeds that bore great fruit in future generations. The influence of these composers should not be underestimated. Bach’s WTC alone was a tremendous influence, as was Handel’s Messiah. It seems to me that Handel’s influence is more direct and obvious, some examples are Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and much of Mozart’s church music. Unfortunately, many of Bach’s great choral masterpieces were not heard or published for over 150 years. What would Mozart have thought of Bach’s B minor mass, or St Mathew Passion? How would the Christmas Oratorio or the Magnificat have influenced Mozart if he had known these wonderful pieces? We will never know.

The influence of Bach is more subtle than the influence of Handel and can be seen mostly in the way other composers learned counterpoint by studying his works. If you want to learn how to create a bass line that goes well with the melody, supports the harmony, yet has beauty, and an independence and logic of its own, there is no better composer to study than Bach. If you want to compose contrapuntal music with complexity, yet with smoothness, clarity, and transparency, then studying the music of Bach and Handel is indispensable.

Of original musical genius the Romans had little or none, and they were content to take their music, like every other artistic adjunct of their national life, from the Greeks. The Greek was the child of nature, refined and educated through his own innate sense of beauty and fitness;. The Roman was a barbarian civilised with the civilisation of the barrack-yard and the camp. Thus it is that the music of the Romans is but the music of the Greeks transplanted in new and not very favourable surroundings.

To the Greek, Art of any kind was something great and almost holy. To the Roman, Art of any shape or kind was merely a relaxation, or at most a mere handmaid to display and vain glory. Roman music is thus simply Greek music in a decadent and corrupted condition, a thing of no artistic value, and an object of contempt to the very people among whom it was domiciled. The only personal influence exerted upon music by the Romans was in the development of wind instruments. A race of fighting-men, the Romans regarded military music more seriously than any other branch of the art; essentially practical men, they could readily appreciate its usefulness ; and, in this respect, they remind one of the elderly warrior who opined that music was all very well on parade, but should not be allowed to interfere with conversation. In the Roman armies trumpets of various kinds were used, some of them being of immense proportions. All the military musical instruments were of brass, and comprised the tuba, a straight trumpet something like a modern post-horn in shape; the cornu, or horn, bent nearly in the form of a circle; the lituus, or clarion, slightly bent at the end; and the buccina, shaped like the horn, but of much greater size, the tube being about twelve feet long. Of these the tuba was used by the infantry, the litmis by the cavalry.

The most interesting feature in connection with Roman musical life is the first appearance of that cosmopolitanism, which has ever since remained such a prominent characteristic of musical art. Into Rome drained all the wealth, knowledge, and luxury of the known world. Greek philosophers and artists, Egyptian priests, men of all races from across the Alps, Jewish converts to Christianity, fleeing from persecution in their own country, all gravitated towards the great city; and it was among these warring influences that the infant Christian Church, preserver and regenerator of music, was quietly growing in power and influence; and, with the coming of Christianity, music is no longer of this country or that, but of the whole world.

Mike Shaw
Musical Instruments USA

The musical history of the Greeks may be divided into two great periods, the mythological, and the historical. The first period covers the entire range of traditions and legends, and extends up to the time when the Greeks began to reckon by Olympiads, or periods of four years, the date of the first Olympiad being 776 B.C. From 776 B.C. to 161 A.D. is the historical period.

To the first period belong the stories of Orpheus and Eurydice, perhaps the noblest and most beautiful of all the fairy-tales of art; the building of Thebes and Cadmea by Amphion, who by his playing caused the rocks and stones to move spontaneously; the contest between Apollo and Marsyas; the myth of the Sirens, and numberless other stories and traditions with which the Hellenic mind loved to surround, as with many garlands, the art of music.

Homer provides us with a link between the traditional and historical periods; and in the ” Iliad ” and the ” Odyssey ” are to be found both legend and exact information.

Coming to the historical period proper of Greek music, we cannot fail to be impressed with the broadly moral significance which music possessed for the Greeks. Among the Assyrians,, it is to be imagined, music was more or less sensuous in character; among the Egyptians it apparently partook of the nature of an occult philosophy; among the Israelites music was primarily an act of worship; and it is, therefore, to the Greeks that the credit of being the first to recognise the educative value of music is due. Although not yet an independent art, music probably gained very nearly as much as it lost in this respect, by being made an essential part in the grandest manifestations of the literary and dramatic genius of Greece. Thus the Greek play resembled more an opera than a play, the word being used in its modern acceptation

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