Serialism and Minimalism

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Area of Study 2
Changing directions in western classical music from 1900


  • Since the Baroque period, harmony had been progressing and became more and more complex
  • In the late Romantic period, composers such as Wagner, Bruckner and Strauss used more chromatic notes and dissonant chords


  • In France, composers such as Debussy were part of a new way of thinking called impressionism
  • This word first applied to a school of French painting
  • It’s chief representative was Claude Monet
  • Impressionism tried to either give a glimpse/impression of something- not a concrete view
  • Impressionism didn’t seek to express deeply felt emotions, but it evoked a mood/atmosphere
  • The tonality was not so defined and it did not have a definite ‘key centre’
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  • Expressionism represented inner experience and was a rebellion against established order and accepted forms
  • Real objects in a distorted representation
  • Artists reflecting feelings about themselves and their surroundings
  • Artists (notably Kandinsky and Munch) created vivid pictures, distorting colour and shape to express their innermost emotions
  • In the same way, composers put intense emotional expression into their music
  • Expressionist music avoided cadence, repetition, sequence and balanced phrases
  • It had constantly changing textures, extremes of dynamics and used harmonic and melodic distortion and dissonance for effect


  • In the 1920s, Arnold Schöenberg made up a completely different way of ...

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This is a very concise but accurate description of 3 musical styles. The writer could have gone into more detail especially in the minimalism section. The writer uses musical vocabulary accurately and confidently.