The Twentieth-Century Period was characterized by remarkable new innovations in many different fields, and things that excited me about this period included the new genres of music that were started during this period of time. Some historical events I know from this time period include World Wars 1 and 2, the first flight of the Wright Brothers, and the invention of rap in the 1970s. The textbook describes music from this period as essentially experimental, as it tells is that composers (inspired by Expressionism) left the major-minor scale behind and explored atonality, which is music without a tonal center. In addition to this, electronic instruments were used in the 1950s and 60s, and tape recorders were used to manipulate sounds in the environment, while other composers (such as John Cage) challenged the very definition of “music”, by using ambient noise as their sound.
One of the composers from this time period is William Grant Still and the piece I chose from him was Afro-American Symphony – I. Moderato Assai. It sounds like what I expected to hear after reading the textbook, because the music does indeed have a slow and steady pulse, and it builds up/increases in volume and tempo as the orchestra continues to play (which is characteristic of minimalism). The mood is also very bright, and when the flute comes in, the tempo picks up and becomes much more fast paced and frantic.