Music and Art Through the Ages: Part 7: The Modern World
to our last stop on this whirlwind ride through the history of music
and art. We started back with Ancient Greece, and here we are at the
last port: the Modern World! Modern music and art is so broad
that I could spend twelve posts about all the different
in the modern ages. Instead, I am going to narrow in on some of the
things I find most important.
and Phillip Glass
Composer Philip Glass, Florence 1993
a style of music that, as the name applies, is minimal in nature.
That could be interpreted in a number of ways by composers. It could
have repetitive melodies, harmonies, and rhythms; a drone or steady
beat; limited instrumentation; short text; and/or a reiteration of
phrases. It is an experimentation by the composer and performers.
Typically the harmonies are consonant and don’t clash with each
other in order to give it stability and a more minimalistic quality.
One of the best known minimalist composers is Philip_Glass.
He wrote an opera called Einstein
on the Beach which
is a great example of minimalism. You can hear a drone, repetition of
text, simple harmonies, and consonance in the harmonies. I love to
put this music on in the background. I find it calming.
example of Philip Glass’s work is the music from The
which he composed. My favorite is “Truman
and Arnold Schoenburg
Composer Arnold Schoenberg, Los Angeles 1948
of the more interesting styles of modern music is atonality,
which is just a piece of music that lacks a key. To most people it
sounds awful, but there is a lot of theory and intellect
a twelve-tone method, which can also be called serialism. It is a
method of using all 12 notes of a chromatic scale evenly, so there
would be no favoritism of a certain note. In most music, the key of
the piece would be dominate. If the piece is in D, you would hear a
lot more D’s being played than any other piece. You would
also not hear many of the notes that are not in the D scale. In the
twelve-tone method, all notes are played the same amount so you never
hear a key or center for the music. One of his early pieces, after
working out his twelve-tone method, is this string quartet. Listen,
not for harmony cohesiveness, but rhythm cohesiveness.
Expressionism and Jackson Pollock
see a picture of Pollock’s work, please check out wikipedia.
be very similar to atonality. It was a breaking down of what
art was thought to be and becoming something completely different.
Not everyone likes abstract expressionism, but it was new and
something that had never been done before. It grew out of post WWII
era in America and Germany. It was about an intensity in emotion and
revolutionized art for the modern world.Jackson_Pollock was
a very influential artist in America. He moved away from the easel
and started to use new ways to create art. He dripped, threw,
stained, tore, and used imagery and non-imagery. Not only did he use
paint, but he would throw grass, cigarette butts, and other random
things on his paintings. It opened up a new world of expression and
he influenced other artists to make breakthroughs of their own.
Art and Andy Warhol
see a picture of Warhol’s most famous work, Campbell’s Soup Cans,
go to Wikipedia.
exactly what it sounds like. It is a step away from fine art and a
cohesion of art and popular culture and images. Typically it takes
images used in advertising. It can be comic strips, advertising
campaigns and collages. It began in the 1950’s in Britain and the
United States. One of the best known pop artists from America
is Andy_Warhol with
your kids experience the strange sounds of modern music. Let them
compose their own modern music using “instruments” from around
the house- smack tin can, hit pots, shake rice in an Easter egg,
pluck rubber bands on a tissue box, etc.
like Pollock! I suggest doing this project outdoors, or spreading
newspaper out to protect your table and/or floor. Also wear old
clothes and use washable paint. To be accurate in how Pollock
painted, get a large piece of paper and spread it out on the floor.
Take paint and attack the paper. Drip paint, spray paint, fleck
paint, rub paint, put on pieces of other materials, etc. Be creative
in how you create the project. Have fun with this project!!
your student come up with an advertising campaign for a real or made
up product. Have them create a visual component as well as a sales
pitch for it to work on persuasive writing. Let them be creative- is
it a new candy bar aimed at Martians? Maybe a show for frogs that
give them an extra bounce? Just focus on the art part and
writing something short to highlight what makes the product so
hope you have enjoyed our art and music filled time travel over the
past few months. My kids loved being the guinea pigs, and I hope your
students enjoyed the projects as much as mine did!