Music after 1900
Artwork by Remedios Varo
Twentieth century music has been under lots of changes since its starting point. Inventions of electronic devices, using dissonance and silence, and creating new instruments have had a big impact on modern and postmodern music. In this essay, I will analyze two of the twentieth century musical pieces and highlight what I like or dislike about them.
One of the most successful composers of past century is John Corigliano. Even though many composers were making atonal dissonant music at his time, he was composing new modern or new tonal music. Some referred to his music as neo-romantic. The Cloister is one of his famous works that was composed in 1965. This opera piece has four parts, which are relatively short in length. The texture is polyphonic and quite consistent in his music. Although Corigliano tends to create beautiful tonal music, he utilizes many postmodern musical characteristics used in music after 1900 such as dissonant melody and harmony. One of these features that create an unusual but pleasing effect is his method in incorporating fragment variation in harmonizing his piece. By this method, he harmonizes the same phrase in a lower pitch and different key simultaneously with the melody. Despite of its dissonant harmonic sound, one can recognize the appealing motive behind its multilayered textured which repeats in this piece. Another noticeable aspect of Corigliano music is the leaps of thirds that adds another postmodern tonality gesture to its overall outcome. Moreover, the melodic phrase of each section repeats. He has composed it in peculiar yet remarkable way using large leaps followed by small steps. This combination creates an interesting melody dynamics as well as unresolved dissonant forms that help making an anxious mood. Moreover, Corigliano uses suspended chords to create a sad and touching atmosphere. He also uses unresolved cadences to add more sensitivity to...