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Article

Matthias Thiemel

The intensity of volume with which notes and sounds are expressed. In the 20th century dynamics came to be seen as one of the fundamental parameters of composition which function interdependently to create musical meaning and structure.

Dynamic variation is so natural to the performance of almost all styles of music that its presence can normally be assumed even when indications for it are mainly or even entirely absent from the notation. That dynamic transitions occurred in the music of ancient Greece is suggested by Plutarch’s accounts, and it is likely that the monophonic hymns of the 1st century ce displayed nuances of volume illustrating their meaning or imitating the tone of speech. Medieval musicians had no word for ‘dynamics’ per se, but it is implicit in the concepts of structura and processus. By the early Renaissance period dynamic values were reflected in changes in the number of voices and their registers. In Josquin’s ...

Article

Leon Botstein

A term used in music to denote a multi-faceted but distinct and continuous tradition within 20th-century composition. It may also refer to 20th-century trends in aesthetic theory, scholarship and performing practice. Modernism is a consequence of the fundamental conviction among successive generations of composers since 1900 that the means of musical expression in the 20th century must be adequate to the unique and radical character of the age. The appropriateness of the term to describe a coherent and discrete movement has been underscored by the currency of the word ‘postmodern’, which refers to the music, art and ideas that emerged during the last quarter of the century as a reaction to Modernism (see Postmodernism). The word ‘Modernism’ has functioned throughout the century both polemically and analytically; although it is applied loosely to disparate musical styles, what links its many strands is a common debt to the historical context from which it emerged....