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Era Instrumentation Forces Defining features Genre Examples

Renaissance Instrumental Ensemble Predominantly homophonic dance-based music with internal Renaissance Pavane ““The image of
contrapuntal parts. Simple repeating sections played by consorts Instrumental Melancholy””- Holborne
of related instruments (recorders, shawms, viols). music (Edexcel)
Solo Keyboard music based on dances or simple theme and variations. Renaissance Pavana Lachrimae ––
Much melodic ornamentation and passage work running through Keyboard music Dowland (Edexcel)
all parts. (harpsichord, virginal or organ)
Vocal Choral Latin text, unaccompanied imitative polyphony. Sacred Motet O Wilhelme, pastor
Rhythm and harmony subservient to the contrapuntal line bone –– Taverner
As above, but the Latin text comes from the five parts of the Mass setting Mass for Four Voices -
Ordinary of the Mass. Byrd
A mixture of homophony and polyphony, in the vernacular and Madrigal Sing we at pleasure ––
generally highly rhythmic. Often use of nonsense words with Weelkes (Edexcel)
pastoral or courtly love themes.
Solo Solo voice, usually in the vernacular accompanied most ‘‘ayres’’ or lute Flow my teares ––
commonly by the lute. Strophic form, commonly in ABB form. song. Dowland (Edexcel)
Baroque Instrumental Orchestral Binary form where the first section is slow, homophonic, pompous French Overture Overture to Messiah -
and dotted rhythms abound. Followed by a fast fugal section. Handel
Three short sections arranged fast-slow-fast, often with prominent Italian Overture Tutto il mal’’, non vien
trumpet part. per nuocere –– A.
Strings with basso continuo group alternating with solo Concerto Violin Concerto in A
instrumental episodes. Use of Ritornello form, three movements: minor BWV1041 –– J.S.
fast-slow-fast. Bach
A concertante group of instruments alternating with the ripieno Concerto Grosso Concerto Grosso Op.6
group of strings with basso continuo group. Three or more No.8 –– Corelli (CCEA)
movements, often several short sections.
Chamber Two equally important melodic instruments and the basso Trio Sonata Trio Sonata in D, Op.3
continuo group. No.2 –– Corelli
Solo melodic instrument accompanied by a basso continuo group. Solo Sonata Flute Sonatas –– Handel
Solo Keyboard music, either contrapuntal or virtuosic and Prelude, Fantasia, Fantasia in G major
improvisatory (harpsichord, clavichord, organ). Toccata BWV 571 - J.S. Bach
Various Series of short Binary Form movements all in the same key. Dance Suite Partita No.4 in D major
Majority highly rhythmic and characterized by a repeated BWV828 –– J.S. Bach
rhythmic pattern and effect. Usually ending with a fast compound (Edexcel)
time movement.
Vocal Choral Primarily contrapuntal four parts or more. In Latin or vernacular. Chorus Cantata No.48 –– Ich
Accompanied by orchestra and basso continuo group. Secular: Elender Mensch –– J.S.
Opera / Sacred: Oratorio, Passion, Mass Bach (Edexcel)
Solo Solo voice accompanied by orchestra and basso continuo group. Aria Cantata No.48 –– Ich
Often with an obbligato instrument to the fore, use of instrumental Elender Mensch –– J.S.
ritornelli. Frequent use of Da Capo form with use of Bach (Edexcel)
ornamentation, especially on repeats. Secular: Opera / Sacred:
Oratorio, Passion, Mass.
Solo voice punctuated by accompanimental chords usually from Recitative Cantata No.48 –– Ich
the basso continuo group (sometimes strings). Text presented as (Precursor: Elender Mensch –– J.S.
speech with little or no repetition or melismas. Secular: Opera / Monody) Bach (Edexcel)
Sacred: Oratorio, Passion, Mass.
Instrumental or Strict imitative counterpoint with each part entering with Subject Fugue Fugue in D Major ––
Vocal (in Tonic) or the Answer (Subject in Dominant). Use of counter- Well-Tempered Clavier
subject, episodes, sequences, stretto, inversion and pedal notes. BkI –– J.S. Bach
Classical Instrumental Orchestral Four movement work for orchestra. Sonata Form used for first Symphony Symphony No. 103 ––
movement followed by a slow movement, Minuet and Trio (later a Haydn (OCR)
Scherzo) then a fast lighter movement to end, often a Rondo.
Chamber Growing out of the Baroque Trio Sonata, this is a work three String Trio Trio in Eb major K.563
string instruments: either two violins and a cello or violin, viola - Mozart
and cello.
Work for four strings: two violins, viola and cello. Usually with String Quartet Quartet Op.76 No.2 ––
four movements, often the same order and forms used in the Haydn (AQA)
Work for piano and two other instruments, usually violin and Piano Trio Kegellstadt Trio K.498
cello, but can be piano, clarinet and cello or even viola. Usually in - Mozart
four movements.
Chamber music using five strings, usually two violins, two violas String Quintet String Quintet in G
and a cello. Has a darker and warmer sound than the string minor K.516 –– Mozart
Chamber work for piano and four other instruments. Again using Piano Quintet Piano and Wind Quintet
the Symphonic model of four movements. K.452 –– Mozart
Solo instrument (i.e. piano) or a single line melodic instrument Sonata Piano Sonata K.333 ––
accompanied by the piano. Again using the Symphonic model of Mozart (Edexcel)
Vocal Solo Simple and light solo songs accompanied by the piano. Often Art Song An die Ferne Geliebte -
published on just two staves Beethoven
Romantic Instrumental Orchestral Generally in one continuous movement held together by thematic Symphonic Poem Harold in Italie ––
transformation. Relating music to nature, literature or philosophy. Berlioz (Edexcel)
One movement work, usually connected with a programme, often Concert Overture Fingal’’s Cave -
portraying the mood of the subject. Mendelssohn
Solo Small scale piano pieces. Usually with a simple form: ternary or Piano piece: Kinderscenen Op.15 ––
theme and melodic variation. Often demonstrating folk miniature / Schumann (Edexcel)
influences. Complex accompanimental textures. Right hand character piece
melody predominant.
Vocal Solo Solo secular song, sung in German. Voice and piano of equal Lied Die Forelle, Erlkönig ––
importance. A fusion of the verbal and musical components. Schubert (AQA)
Much more interest in the piano part.
Twentieth Century Various Mood music, conjuring up an atmosphere rather than conveying a Impressionism Prelude à L’’Après-Midi
graphic programme. Use of parallel added chords, complex d’’une Faune –– Debussy
rhythms and non-diatonic scales. (Edexcel)
Very chromatic to the point of atonality. No sense of key, Expressionism Erwartung ––
sounding completely unstructured. Expression of an emotion or a Schoenberg
state of mind was of ultimate importance.
Reworking forms and structures from previous eras with a Neo-Classicism Pulcinella –– Stravinsky
twentieth-century gloss. Often employing ““wrong note”” effects, (Edexcel)
unusual orchestration, harmonic shifts rather than modulations and
rhythmic displacement.
Music inspired by national legends or themes. Use of folk songs or Nationalism Dance Suite –– Bartók
folk traits assimilated into art music, modes, non-diatonic scales
and national orchestral colour.
Atonal music given structure and purpose by use of tone rows Serialism Quartet Op.22 ––
subjected to contrapuntal techniques such as inversion and Webern (Edexcel)
retrograde. Use of Baroque and some Classical forms.
Chance music relying on choices made by the performers working Aleatoricism Sequenza III for female
from a graphic or free score. voice –– Berio (Edexcel)
Very little material being used. Almost mesmeric use of repetition. Minimalism New York Counterpoint
Riff-based textures. Minimal material treated with small evolving –– Reich (Edexcel)
shifts of rhythm, pitch, and accompaniment.
Blues & Jazz Use of the Blues scale, 12 bar chord progression, walking bass, Blues West End Blues –– Louis
short vocal phrases filled in by the ““jazz””. Armstrong (Edexcel &
Piano music where left hand ““vamps”” bass line on the beat and Ragtime Maple Leaf Rag 1899 -
chordal accompaniment off the beat. Right hand plays a Joplin
syncopated melody in octaves with frequent runs and arpeggios.
Large-scale jazz ensembles playing arranged music. Use of Swing In the Mood –– Glen
““swung”” quavers, walking bass, instrumental sections play Miller
homophonically. Frequent use of 12 bar blues pattern and brass to
punctuate texture with ““stabs””.
Fast moving, small ensemble jazz. Plentiful melodic Bebop Birdland –– Charlie
embellishment, chords being added to using 7ths, 9ths and 11ths. Parker
Use of augmented and diminished chords, substitutions and
exploitation of the tritone (harmonically and melodically)
Use of strong melodies, harmonies and a square rhythmic basis. Cool jazz Kind of Blue –– Miles
Use of modes and non-diatonic scales. Reaction to the ““free”” Davis (OCR)
sound of Bebop.