About this Website
This collection of essays explores music through its composers, performers, genres, and styles. Each essay discusses music in a variety of styles and from several points throughout the history of western music. Art music (a.k.a. classical music), popular music, historical works, and 21st-century pieces are discussed side-by-side.
The ancestor of modern music notation (sheet music) emerged around 900 BC, so we have more than 11 centuries of written music available for our consideration. Although lighter genres have been around for centuries, popular music as we know it emerged in the 1950s, giving us little more than 60 years of material. Given this disparity, it will be no surprise that the majority of people and musical examples will be drawn from historical music. But the study of modern and popular music is valuable both for its own sake and in comparison with earlier works, so popular and contemporary works will be considered alongside more traditional art music examples.
This combination of historical and modern pieces is designed to reveal the ways that current music has emerged from the performances and compositions of the past, and also to demonstrate the role that historical music still plays in modern culture. This approach emphasizes connection rather than division, and creates opportunities to consider familiar and accessible pieces alongside historical pieces that may be more challenging to modern listeners.