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   - Pre-classical
      - Empfindsamer Stil
      - Strum und Drang
      - Mannheim
   - Classical

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General comparison

Pre-classical Classical
Emphasis on the sensitive style Focus on the classical virtues of poise, balance; emotion controlled within a form
Chief vocal forms: Chief vocal forms:
Opera, serious and comic
  • Classical opera forms important part of present-day repertory, especially operas by Mozart
  • Oratorios, masses in far less degree than Baroque
  • Chief instrumental forms:
  • Symphony, concerto, solo and duo sonata;
  • Various types of chamber music, especially string quartet
  • Operatic overture
  • Form
    Dances in binary form were popular, for example, minuet and polonaise Three part (ABA) form favoured alongside two part form
    Use of sonata structure in a number of performance mediums. Movement consists of sections e.g. exposition, development, recapitulation Classical, symmetrical forms
    Melodic treatment
    Complete flexibility in the creation of phrase structure, for while they occasionally resort to the short-breathed utterances of the style galant, they more frequently enjoy binding together longer melodies, often extending to six bars, sometimes to eight.
    The Baroque concept that one emotion should govern an entire movement still applies in general to Emmanuel Bach’s early sonatas; yet even some of the "Prussian" sonatas, he introduces several themes that are contrasting in character. At times Bach modifies or develops a motif immediately after its first statement with frequent surprises, including sudden key changes and dissonances resolved in an unexpected and abrupt manner.1
    Symmetrical, four-bar phrases
    There is presence of melodic fragmentation which is representative of Roccoco and Empfindsamkeit. Some melodic fragments may be more striking and more clearly defined than others and may recur at various points. Thus they impress themselves more strongly on the listener; they become “themes” E.g. C.P.E Bach 18 Probestücke in sech Sonaten: Sonata no. 2 beginning. (refer to Pauly pg 38 for extract) More complex themes, but completely self contained; it represents a well-defined, rounded musical thought.2 E.g Mozart Sting Quartet in D minor K421 first movement.
    Rhythm / Affekt
    Usually based on two contrasting themes, one rhythmic, the other lyric: consequently, two contrasting moods. Greater rhythmic variety within a movement
    Apt to use contrapuntal devices, such as imitation, inversion,etc., extensively and completely unselfconsciously. E.g. C. P. E. Bach Sonata in F minor, H 40 Homophonic textures - singular melody and choral accompaniment
    Built in dynamics, directly connected to the affects, from the conventional Baroque ‘terraced’ dynamics which is arbitrarily applied and which concerns only the stacking of the levels of sound independently of their context.3
    Mannheim crescendos
    Continually changing, based on crescendo - diminuendo.
      Chief keyboard instrument: piano
      No keyboard instrument used as fundamental harmonic support in the orchestra
    A singing, expressive style was sought by composers of the Empfindsamkeit. C.P.E Bach stated that human voice was the model for any kind of melodic writing, which should always stress simple beauty without excessive embellishments….He therefore wrote out appropriate variations, especially for the use of beginners and others who do not have the time of patience to learn the art of improvising embellishments. Music is completely notated.
    Exception: concerto cadenza
      Classical orchestra standardized in four-choirs: string, woodwind, brass, percussion
      Classical composers exploited the special character of each instrument to a degree than predecessors.
    Tonal Harmony
    Fondness for the use of the minor mode in an affective manner, the non-avoidance of extreme key signatures, a harmony conditioned by frequent chromatism, and a preparedness for remote modulation.  

    Why wasn't the pre-classical style significant enough to become a definitive classical musical period of its own? Discuss this in our forums together with other issues as well!

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