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What are Key Signatures?

Key signatures are some of the most commonly encountered elements of music notation. They are frequently used in western notated music, and even music beginners will probably come across them early in the music learning process.   But what exactly are key signatures? Despite their prevalence, key signatures can be strangely difficult to understand for beginners. In this article we’ll explain what key signatures are, where they’re found, and how to most easily think about what they do. Where are Key Signatures, and What do they Mean? Key signatures are collections of accidentals that show up at the beginnings of pieces … Read more

The Postmodern Period

Music historians regularly disagree on dates and periodization in Western Classical Music, but the current general consensus is that we are, at this moment in time, enjoying the Postmodern Period of Music. The term Postmodernism first came into use during the 1970s to describe musical, artistic, and philosophical trends that began around 1945. Postmodernist music expanded on the experimental trends of the modernist period, but also acted as a reaction against those experiments, resulting in a diverse array of compositional designs. A common theme throughout postmodern music was to challenge what music should be, and what it could be.  In … Read more

Easy Piano: 10 Easy Minor Pieces

There are lots of articles out there claiming to contain “easy” piano pieces. Some of them are good, some of them are not, and many of them throw big, famous titles into their list of offerings, such as Beethoven’s “Fur Elise,” or Claude Debbusy’s “Claire de Lune.” You might be familiar with these pieces by name, and through hearing snippets of their most well-known sections, but have you ever tried to play them? Or even listened to a complete recording? Doing so in either way reveals that these are hardly “easy” pieces, and the closest many beginning or intermediate players … Read more

The Modern Period

The Modern Period in Western music history lasted from approximately 1890 to 1945. As with Romanticism, Modernism is both a historical time period as well as a philosophical aesthetic. In everyday conversation, “modern” typically means current or recent. As a term referencing music, Modernism was first used by critics to describe forms of musical expression adhering to the radical changes happening at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century. Unlike the terms “Romanticism” or “Classicism,” Modernism describes relatively few unifying musical traits, the sounds of Modernism range from the wistful and bucolic, to the bizarre and … Read more

The Romantic Period

The Romantic Period, spanning from around 1820 to 1910, contains some of the most beloved music from the classical music tradition. A lot of music from this time period is probably already familiar to you, due to its frequent use in television shows, commercials, movies, and video games! The highly expressive nature of Romantic music tends to resonate with the emotional sensibilities of the modern world, and it is this trait perhaps above all others that has contributed to its lasting appeal.   What is Romanticism? Musical Romanticism was influenced by the Romantic movement in art and literature that began … Read more

The Classical Period

The Classical Period follows the Baroque and lasts approximately from 1750 to 1820. Many of the traditional practices of Western Music as we know it were codified during the Classical Period – a reflection of which can be found in the name itself. Synonyms for classical include “authoritative” and “traditional” – fitting adjectives for the period that established many of the rules that composers follow even today!  In everyday conversation, “classical music” is a catch-all term for any music that is not Pop, World, or Jazz music. Generally, what people actually mean when they say classical music is “music of … Read more

The Baroque Period

The Baroque Period of Western music history saw the development of many of the instruments and performing techniques we still use today. In modern times, budding musicians study the compositional techniques codified during the Baroque period. Much of the music from this era is standard in the modern classical repertoire. During the Baroque period, compositions became more complicated, ensemble sizes increased, and the influence of Italian opera brought new drama throughout the European musical world. In addition, composers during this time generally enjoyed the benefits of increased arts patronage, as well as the growing acceptance of non-sacred instrumental music, which … Read more

How to Read Music – Part 2

Section 1: Rests and Ties In Part 1 of this article series we learned how to decipher music notation in time (horizontally) and in pitch (vertically). This duet of understanding makes up the bulk of reading music.  That said, there are still some basic key elements of music notation that are worthwhile  to add to your understanding. We may know what notes to play and the counts of the notes that need to be played, we still don’t really know anything about how they should be played: how loud, how short or long, etc. We also could benefit from a … Read more

How to Read Music – Part 1

Have you ever wanted to learn to play an instrument, but hesitated at the thought of learning to read music? All those dots and lines and funny little symbols…. it can seem like an alien language, accessible only to the gifted few.  While it’s true that the ability to read music notation (which we’ll refer to simply as “reading music” from now on) can take years of study to master, the basics of reading music aren’t actually that complicated. There are only a few key elements to consider when reading basic music notation, and once you’ve become familiar with those, … Read more

Strange Fruit: Black Lives in American Music

Maybe you have heard about protests happening in the streets of the United States and elsewhere in the world, protests against police violence towards African Americans. Here at Liberty Park Music, we thought this would be an important time to expand the Music History Series with the goal of connecting music with current events. Music history doesn’t just teach us about great music of the past, but it also can shed light on political and cultural moments. With this article, we’re going to learn a little history through one song: Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.” “Strange Fruit” is often referred to … Read more