Looking back on eras of music before the 20th Century, do you think musicians were stifled by the strict rules governing the composition of music, or do you think that the way composers wrote...

Looking back on eras of music before the 20th Century, do you think musicians were stifled by the strict rules governing the composition of music, or do you think that the way composers wrote music reflected what people expected to hear?

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Looking back on the eras of music before the 20th century, there were not necessarily strict rules governing composition. As it is currently in music, if a musician wants to have her music heard, purchased, and/or performed, she must adhere to what she thinks the listeners, purchasers, and/or the performers want. The "strict rules" governing music are in actuality a function of us looking backward and trying to find common trends in composition in order to try to understand the music. Throughout the eras of music before the 20th century, and in the 20th and 21st century, musicians have chosen their own path based on what they prefer. Bach, with great discipline, copied and analyzed dozens, perhaps hundreds, of the scores of both his contemporaries and predecessors in order to more deeply absorb and understand their music. The choices these musicians made then influenced his own choices. Both Mozart and Beethoven looked backward in awe and admiration to the music of Bach. When Mozart and Beethoven chose to flaunt the trends, not strict rules, of the currently accepted style, they both suffered the monetary consequences. Stravinsky, when facing mental blocks in his composing process, would play Bach on the piano to find inspiration. Conversely, musicians have made deliberate choices in order to increase the prospect of making a living.