Classical era

Features of Classical Style
  • an emphasis on well-proportioned and graceful melody lines written in regular phrases of often eight bars duration (four bars as a question answered by four) - this is called periodic or regular phrasing.
  • linked to this, a melody-dominated texture became popular (melody-dominated homophony), although polyphony was also used.
  • the musical structure employed had a sense of symmetry and balance (sonata form is a good example of this)
  • structures were defined by clear-cut key schemes with regular cadences.
  • harmony was functional, i.e. chords were used for structural purposes (based on chords I, IV, V and VI)
  • ideas of contrast in terms of key, melodies and more varied dynamics.
  • the orchestra was established as a standard instrumental ensemble during this period and the harpsichord became redundant.
  • new instrumental musical genres emerged - sonata for a solo instrument, concerto, symphony and string quartet.