Through the Centuries
An Online book
by Don Robertson
2005 by Rising World Entertainment
About "Music Through the Centuries"
by Don Robertson
content of Music Trough the Centuries presents my musical reality, one
that I began developing in 1961. I share it with you and you may
find it rewarding and revolutionary, or you may disagree.
However, I believe that what I am writing about will become the
basis for our classical music of the 21st Century.
first I assumed that I would publish Music Through the
Centuries as I had always published my books, in standard 20th century publishing
format, represented by a hard- or soft-cover book. I soon realized,
however, that the new publishing model was the internet.
Therefore, I integrated the book in with the content of
DoveSong.com, the website I have been building since January,
1997. This makes this book different from a printed book because
it will continue
to grow. Why write
a book and make 5,000 copies when anyone can read a free on-line
they have a computer, or perhaps even a cell phone?
goal of the book is to show: 1) How each century began
developing a particular musical style near the beginning
of the century to find it fully perfected at the end. 2) That great music
awaits in still largely undiscovered centuries. 3) How great
music exists in other classical music traditions.
is how I classify each century:
with the sublime melodies
of Josquin Des Prez and culminating with a high spiritual plateau that was reached toward the end of the century with
the works of composers such as Palestrina, Gabrieli, and
Victoria. This is one of two "forgotten"
In 1600, a spark
entered the flowing consonant
harmonies of 16th century music and opera and classical songs were born,
and sacred music that was still spiritual came alive with life force.
This is the other forgotten century.
I didn't fully understand the classical music of the
18th century until I realized that this was the century of Mind, and then it all became clear. This was the
century where all the forms where born and developed. The beginning
of the century finds Corelli establishing forms in the new
major and minor system of tonality. J.S. Bach brings forth a perfection of the old forms,
then the final forms are
perfected by Mozart and Haydn at the end of the century.
Emotions pour into the forms that were perfected during the preceding
century. Beethoven opens his heart and then there is an
incredible outflow of beautiful music and
another spiritual plateau was reached with the music of
Wagner and Franck.
- In order to round out the cycle more fully, we
had to experience a century where it all came apart. Darkness appeared in
and became integrated into much of the world's population through
movies and television.
- The book ends with a discussion
of the music of the 21st Century. This chapter is more high
level than the rest as I am addressing it directly to
musicians and theorists. The rebirth is not only a centenary
rebirth, but a millennial rebirth, so it is special. In this
century, composers will not just build on what was presented
in the century before, but begin a study, as had been
proposed 100 years before by the great French composer and
education Vincent d'Indy, from Gregorian chant
21st is a whole new cycle - Here we, the composers and artists,
get to play in a sandbox filled with knowledge from the previous
centuries, other cultures, plus
our own heaven-sent inspiration. 21st century art pours heart and spirit into the
greatest communication invention of the 20th century: the
European tradition of classical music began in the Roman and
Eastern church during the first 800 years AD. It was called
plainsong, which is melody in its simplest form. There were many
varieties such as Ambrosian,
chants, but Gregorian
chant became the norm for the Roman Catholic church. The
first polyphony, or music with multiple voice parts, was called organum.
It emerged in liturgical music in or around the late 9th
Thirteenth Century - 1200 to 1299
(1135 - c1190-1201) was the first known significant composer of
two-voice organum. The creation of three- and four-voice organum
occurred around 1200 and Perotin was
the most important composer of this expanded form. (please listen
to this music!). He made an important step in the
development of polyphony.
of the music written before 1300 has been lost. This was a dark
time, when ignorance, sickness and death cast its shadow over
Fourteenth Century - 1300 to 1399
de Machaut emerged at the end of the so-called dark ages
as the first composer to put his name on the music that he
wrote. His was the primary influence of the 14th Century.
has this to say about Machaut: "Guillaume de Machaut
(d.1377) is one of the undisputed pinnacle geniuses of Western
music, and the most famous composer of the Middle Ages. Today
his four-voice Mass of Notre Dame is a textbook example
for medieval counterpoint, and has served sufficiently to
maintain his reputation across shifts in fashion. However
Machaut's work is extensive, with his French songs & poetry
dominating the fourteenth century by both their quality and
Back to the Table of Contents
Proceed to Part One