The twentieth century represents a time so closely related yet so distant from the world in which we live in today. Though it saw the rise of much of the technology we still depend on today, the world that existed then and that exists now are so vastly different. That is what makes the twentieth century a particular source of intrigue and excitement for me. Much of these differences, of course, have to do with the two world wars that the generation of the twentieth century had to face. Thankfully, we in the twenty first century have not had to endure such damaging and horrific events. Throughout my years of schooling, I have consistently learned about the world wars, how they started, what devastation they caused, and how they ended. Rarely did we talk about the effects of the wars on society though. For this reason, I never really realized that an event as horrifying as a world war could influence the music styles that arose afterwards. However, now, the point seems abundantly clear.
Post-world war music is explained to be music that challenged the very definition of “music.” More and more musicians experimented with Expressionism, which focused on exploring the unconscious mind. Perhaps this was a way for the populace to recuperate after the terrors of wartime, as introspection is often used as a therapeutic measure. Electronic music also blossomed, signifying the increase of technology that followed the world wars in the victorious nations. Perhaps the most noteworthy development was Minimalism, a form of music that focused on harmonic consonance, slow, steady pulses that created an atmosphere similar to that of hypnotism. The characteristics of these musical styles very much reflect the way society attempted to heal after the devastating effects of the world wars by focusing on their consciousness, advancements and peace,
When I listened to Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” I was pleasantly surprised. This piece, unlike the smooth and steady pulses of Minimalism, was energetic. I could close my eyes and picture cartoons characters like Tom and Jerry running around to the beat. Of course, I had heard of and listened to the work of Duke Ellington before, but now playing this song I recognize just why he was such a success and considered a pioneer in the musical world.