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Classical period characteristics

STUDY
PLAY
Classical
1750-1820
Melody
1. Short, balanced 4 bar phrases
2. 2 or more contrasting themes in a movement
3. Predictable and simple
4. Symmetrical
5. No improvisation
Harmony
1. Major/Minor tonalities
2. Contrast of tonic/dominant keys
3. Modulation
4. Strong tonal centre
5. Harmonic stability
Rhythm
1. Clearly defined and regular
2. Many rhythmic patterns
3. Sudden and gradual shifts in note lengths
4. Unexpected pauses
5. Syncopation
Texture
1. Frequently homophonic
2. Some shifts between homophonic and polyphonic
Tone Colour
1. Fortepiano replaces harpsichord
2. String quartet
3. Classical orchestra: "Noah's ark"
4. Variety and rapid changes
5. Contrast between brass, woodwind and string sections
Structure
1. Several movements contrasting in character and tempo
2. Often fast, slow, dance-related, fast
3. Symphony (4 mvmnts)
4. Sonata (2-4 mvmnts)
5. String quartet
6. Ternary form
7. Theme and variations
8. Minuet and trio
9. Rondo form
Dynamics
1. Common use of gradual change - cresc. and dim.
2. Little use of terraced dynamics
Context and composers
1. Mozart
2. Beethoven
3. Haydn