What Prompts Change in Musical Styles?

by joshir2013


Change is inevitable. This idea holds true especially in music- a constantly evolving art form.


We’ve seen it change from organum of the 10th and 12th centuries into more complicated polyphony. We’ve seen the evolution of monody into opera seria and opera buffa. And we’ve even seen the evolution of tonal styles of music into atonal styles of music such as Schoenberg’s 12 tone serial music or free jazz of the 1960s.


There’s even been change within musical structure. During the Pre-Classical era for example, there were several compositions in strophic form. However, as time progressed, musical forms were altered, perfected, and then invented. The emergence of forms such as binary, da capo aria, and rondo form became apparent.


But why does music evolve? Why does it need to change if the era’s most celebrated composers develop seemingly perfect compositions like Bach and his sonatas or Beethoven and his symphonies? In other words, what prompts change in music, stylistically and structurally.


Is it simply boredom? I guess it does make sense that listening to the same style or even the same piece of music can seem redundant, so then perhaps it’s novelty that we crave?


There are of course technological and cultural implications within the question too. For example, during the 18th and part of the 19th centuries, the Ottoman Empire’s reach was far and wide, spanning much of north Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia and Europe. As a result, they had a tremendous impact on European and Asian art, architecture, fashion (the “Turkish Craze”), and of course the arts. The best example of this is the Janissaries, who influenced Mozart to write Abduction from the Seraglio, and Haydn to write some symphonies.


What do you guys think? What prompts change within music?