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My Notes on Massive Open Online Course:
Western Music History through Performance
Explore eight important works from different eras and genres of Western classical-music repertoire, through performances recorded at Curtis and discussion of each work’s historical context, composer, musical significance, and compositional design.
Notes on 10 Lectures I Watched in This Course:
Ancient Musical Notation
Medieval Chant Notation
Ars Nova, New Rhythm in the 14th Century
Musical Terms and Notation
The Baroque Era (1600-1750)
18th Century Baroque Improvisation
The Bach Family and the International Style of Baroque
Bach's Monumental Chaconne
The Classical Era (1750-1815)
3 People I Have Learned About in this Course:
Guido of Arezzo (991-1033)
Italian music theorist regarded as the inventor of modern musical notation, or staff notation, that replaced neumatic notation
  • his text, the Micrologus, was the second-most-widely distributed treatise in the Middle Ages, after the writings of Boethius
  • was a monk of the Benedictine order from the Italian city-state of Arezzo
  • his early career was spent at the monastery of Pomposa, on the Adriatic coast near Ferrara, where he noted the difficulty that singers had in remembering Gregorian chants and developed methods for them to better memorize the chants
  • after moving to Arezzo, he developed new techniques for teaching, such as staff notation and the use of the "ut–re–mi–fa–so–la" (do–re–mi–fa–so–la) mnemonic syllables which are taken from the initial syllables of each of the first six half-lines of the first stanza of the hymn "Ut queant laxis": (1) Ut queant laxīs, (2) resonāre fībrīs, (3) Mīra gestõrum, (4) famulī tuõrum, (5) Solve pollūtī, (6) labiī reātum
Jean Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)
  • Italian-born French composer, instrumentalist, and dancer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France, considered a master of the French baroque style
  • came from Florence to France in 1646 at the age of 14 to be the Italian tutor for one of the king's cousins, and became a French subject at age 30
  • appointed the court composer of instrumental music
  • charged with creating a new kind of French opera different than Italian opera, refined it with elegant ornamentation and created French overtures with their majestic rhythms
  • strict and known for instilling discipline in his orchestra, e.g. demanded uniform bowing in which all bows in a string section must move up and down at the same time
  • Lully's music is known for its power, liveliness in its fast movements and its deep emotional character in its slower movements
  • some of his most popular works are dance movements found in many of his works such as Armide or Phaëton
Johann Joachim Quantz (1697-1773)
A German flutist, flute maker and Baroque music composer in Frederick the Great's court who produced hundreds of flute sonatas and concertos, and wrote On Playing the Flute, a treatise on flute performance
  • born in Oberscheden, near Göttingen
  • father was a blacksmith who died when Hans was not yet 11 and on his deathbed, he begged his son to follow in his footsteps
  • began his musical studies as a child with his uncle
  • from 1714 on, Quantz studied composition extensively and pored over scores of the masters to adopt their style
  • in 1716 he joined the town orchestra in Dresden and studied Baroque counterpoint
  • between 1724 and 1727 Quantz completed his education by doing a tour of Europe as a flutist
  • he studied counterpoint with Francesco Gasparini in Rome, met Alessandro Scarlatti in Naples, befriended the flutist Michel Blavet in Paris, and in London was encouraged by Handel to remain there
  • in 1728 Quantz accompanied August II on a state visit to Berlin where he impressed the court
  • the Crown Prince, Frederick the Great, decided to study the flute and Quantz became his teacher
  • Frederick II became King of Prussia in 1740, Quantz finally accepted a position as flute teacher, flute maker and composer at the court in Berlin
  • Quantz is best known today as the author of Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen (1752)
  • Quantz remained at Frederick's court at Potsdam until his death in 1773
3 Vocabulary Words I Learned in this Course:
arpeggio, n. a musical technique in which notes in a chord are played or sung in sequence, one after the other, rather than ringing out simultaneously. This word comes from the Italian word "arpeggiare", which means "to play on a harp". An arpeggiated chord may be written with a wavy vertical line in front of the chord, and is spread from the lowest to the highest note. Occasionally, however, composers such as Béla Bartók have asked for them to be played from top to bottom. This is shown by adding an arrow pointing down.  "In a Da Capo aria ("from the top"), in which the singer would sing the aria once as written, then sing it again "from the top" adding ornaments and embellishments to show off their skills, the French preferred fine embellishments, while the Italians used extended embellishments such as whole scales and arpeggios."
neume, n. [noom] the basic element of Western and Eastern systems of musical notation prior to the invention of five-line staff notation, these were marks above the text which provided a reminder of the melodic shape  "The Medieval Catholic church eventually felt there was too much diversity in the chants from church to church and needed a way to standardize the chant melodies and prevent variations in order to enforce more conformity and unity of music, as they could no longer rely on memory and oral transmission within the great expanses of lands which the Church now influenced, and the introduction of neumes were the first step in solving this problem"
theorbo, n. [thee-OHR-bow] a plucked string instrument of the lute family with an extended neck and a second pegbox, developed during the late sixteenth century in Italy, inspired by the demand for extended bass range instruments for use in opera developed by the Florentine Camerata and new musical works utilizing basso continuo, i.e. the accompanying part of a musical piece which includes a bass line and harmonies  "Accompanying instruments could be lute, chitarrone, theorbo, harpsichord, organ, and even on occasion guitar."