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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - Periods - Classical - Composing Techniques

We looked at the composing techniques in The Baroque Period, and whilst many of them were still being used in the Classical Period, there were a few more developments which we’ll cover here. This will be the A, B, C...D of composing techniques in the Classical Period.




Alberti Bass

Although this is named after an Italian composer of that name and it was frequently used in the Classical Period, it was used previously. However, its use became more prominent in this period, so we’ll cover it here. The Alberti Bass is a broken chord or arpeggiated accompaniment. Traditionally it starts on the lowest note of the triad, goes to the highest, then to the middle note and finally back to the highest.


Arches

Some Classical melodies were constructed as balanced arches, where the melodic line would ascend to a peak and then descend symmetrically. This arch-shaped contour added a sense of balance and proportion to the melody.



Balanced Phrases

Phrases in Classical Period often followed a balanced structure, where musical ideas were divided into two symmetrical halves. The first half would often end with a cadence that created a sense of suspension or tension, while the second half would resolve this tension through a conclusive cadence.




Clarity

During the Classical Period the composers favoured clear and memorable melodies that were easy to follow and sing. They would also make the harmonic progressions very clear and used primary chords. To further aid the clarity of the music they would frequently use homophonic textures.


Contrast

Composers of the Classical Period would use a wide range of dynamics and articulations to create contrast and expression in their music.

Connection

Composers in the Classical Period preferred connected (conjunct) melodies with fewer leaps and jumps.



Development

Composers in the Classical Period were skilled in developing and manipulating musical themes. They would take a melodic idea from the exposition of a piece and subject it to various transformations, such as fragmentation, inversion, modulation, and sequence, to create interest and variety.


Dynamics

As musical instruments developed so did their capabilities. This meant that they were able to play subtle dynamic changes such as crescendo and diminuendo.

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