folk song, music of anonymous composition, transmitted orally. The theory that folk songs were originally group compositions has been modified in recent studies. These assume that the germ of a folk melody is produced by an individual and altered in transmission into a group-fashioned expression.
National and ethnic individuality can be seen in folk music, even in the case of songs transplanted from one country to another. There is scarcely any people whose folk song is wholly indigenous, and among notable cases of transplanting is the English ballad found in various parts of the United States.
Many of these were collected in the late 19th cent. by Francis Child and in the early 20th cent. by Cecil Sharp. In addition, many American folk songs are of other European or African origin. Americans occasionally consider as folk songs certain songs of traceable authorship, e.g., “Dixie.”
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baroque, in music, a style that prevailed from the last decades of the 16th cent. to the first decades of the 18th cent. Its beginnings were in the late 16th-century revolt against polyphony that gave rise to the accompanied recitative and to opera.
With opera and recitative came the figured bass, used consistently in ensemble music throughout the baroque era. Renaissance polyphony persisted, however, being called the stile antico and considered more appropriate to the church than the nuove musiche.
The baroque period was thus one of stylistic duality; it was an era that displayed emotional extremes (see romanticism). By the end of the era major and minor tonality had replaced the church modes. Contrapuntal writing was resumed in the middle baroque period, but it now had a harmonic basis.
Idiomatic writing, taking account of the individual character and capacities of instruments and voices, was characteristic of baroque music. Originating in Italy, opera, oratorio, and cantata were the principal vocal forms. In instrumental music the sonata, concerto, and overture were creations of the baroque.
In France and Italy the baroque had by 1725 been overshadowed by its outgrowth, the rococo, and it remained for Germany, where the baroque saw the flowering of Protestant church music, to bring the era to culmination in the works of J. S. Bach. The fugue, chorale prelude, and toccata were important forms of the late baroque.
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Classical music refers to a style of music based in the European tradition of music, both secular and liturgical. The term has come to characterize music that is viewed as an art form rather than as entertainment or serving some other subsidiary function.
As with most Western music, classical music is generally in written form, using staff notation, such that the performance (i.e., pitch, speed and meter) of a piece is a literal interpretation, and improvisation or embellishment by the artist is limited.
Other qualities attributed to classical music include the use of a variety of orchestral instruments (e.g., piano, violin, clarinet), the use of intricate form and composition, an advanced technical proficiency in its artistic performance and exclusivity in taste and appeal.
Classical music is often described in terms of the historic period of its composition with the Medieval (6th through 15th centuries) and Renaissance (15th through 17th centuries) periods describing the Early Era, and the Baroque (1600–1750), Classical (1750–1830) and Romantic (1815–1910) eras delineating the Common Practice Period.
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The philosophy of music involves a study of basic questions regarding music, such as what music really is, what are the conditions that classify something as music (as opposed to noise, for example), how does culture influence music, how music is perceived as pleasurable and what is the relationship between music and emotions.
While music has been defined as organized sound, many people maintain that this definition is too broad, as human speech and the noise produced by machinery are also organized sounds. Music can refer to a printed piece of paper, sound waves traveling through the air to reach the listener’s ear, magnetic tape or a CD (the physical object the music is recorded on), the electrochemical changes occurring in the brain when music is listened to or the action of fingers strumming across guitar strings.
Although music can be defined as the art or science of combining instrumental, vocal or both instrumental and vocal sounds together to produce beauty and harmony, many pieces of music are neither beautiful nor harmonious. The lack of harmony has been described as a rebellion against traditional European musical values.
Ambient music, a term coined by Brian Eno in the mid-1970s, refers to non-traditional music that can be listened to or ignored. Used as soundtracks for films, television shows and video games, ambient music often consists of random sounds of nature, industrial machine noises, echoes and reverberations. Some controversial musical compositions have consisted of silence or of various background noises of a restive audience fidgeting and wondering when the real music is going to start.
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Step into any of the countless nightclubs in Lagos and you’re bound to find yourself immersed in a sonic journey of pulsating beats, groovy samples and hip-hop kicks.
In a megacity where everybody loves to dance, the tone is set by the infectious sounds of Afrobeats — a growing music movement that’s struck a chord with youth in West Africa and outside the continent.
Although its name sounds similar to Afrobeat — the eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary sounds pioneered by firebrand multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti — Afrobeats is a new genre on the Anglophone West African music scene.
Back in late 1960s, Kuti, one of Africa’s biggest music stars, used his electrifying grooves and sharp-tongued lyrics as a political vehicle to oppose Nigeria’s military governments.
Afrobeats, however, tends to steer clear from politics. Its mission, says well-known Nigerian music promoter Cecil Hammond, is to make people forget their everyday troubles and have a good time.
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