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Modern (Serious) Period Return to List of Periods
The Modern (Serious) period lasted from 1911 to 2030 approximately.
Modern (Serious)

Modern (Serious) is the  term used to describe "serious" music written roughly after the start of the 20th century. The term is contrasted with Popular Modern, which overlaps the same period. My use of the word Serious does not imply that the music cannot be amusing, light-hearted or enjoyable.

A few composers who lived in the first decades of the twentieth century,  built on the romantic style of the previous musical period. Examples are Sibelius and Holst.

However, the period is dominated by composers who try to do something different. For them, it was, and continues to be, a kind of musical revolt. Everything many of them wrote was driven by an urgent desire to be completely new, utterly different, with little or no connection to the masterpieces of earlier centuries.

They abandoned the conventions of harmony and cadences, so a listener would be deliberately left hanging on a dominant or diminished chord.. They abandoned the distinction between consonance and dissonance. In earlier music, dissonance was used rarely, and usually only in passing on to a consonance. In modern music, dissonance is almost more common than consonance, and it still sounds jarring to many ears today.

They abandoned conventional tonality, in which the music starts and ends in a recognizable key, and is centred on one tone and its tonic chord. Instead they introduced the 12-tone scale, which uses all 12 of the chromatic tones in the equi-tempered octave, and has no feeling of a 'home' note or resting place.

The use of percussion has increased enormously in this period. All sorts of exotic percussion instruments are utilized in musical works, from African drums to vacuum cleaners, from Indonesian gamelan gongs to typewriters. Noise has become a valid element in modern (serious) music.

In 1913, at the premiere of a new ballet by Stravinsky, called 'The Rite of Spring', the audience rioted at the cruel dissonance and barbarity of this new music, and the police had to be called in. Since then, audiences have become more broad-minded, though also probably a lot more polite and tolerant of those who want to listen. And people have realized that a lot of Stravinsky's music is worth listening to. So as time goes by, much modern (serious) music will be forgotten, though a few gems will no doubt emerge, as has happened in the past.

Tunes originating from the Modern (Serious) period. Audio is available for 79 tunes for this period.
No.Name of WorkComposerCategoryEnsemble
1 Adagio for strings, Op 11BarberShort PieceOrchestra
2 Aspirations OvertureGomersallOvertureOrchestra
3 Blue Bells of ScotlandWallaceShort PieceSolo
4 BoleroRavelTone PoemOrchestra
5 Classical Symphony Op 25ProkofievSymphonyOrchestra
6 Concierto de Aranjuez - slow movementRodrigoConcertoOrchestra
7 Dambusters MarchCoatesMarchOrchestra
8 Etude, Op. 2, No.11 in c-sharpScriabinShort PieceSolo
9 Fanfare for the Common ManCoplandShort PieceOrchestra
10 Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas TallisVaughan-WilliamsTone PoemOrchestra
11 Fantasia on GreensleevesVaughan-WilliamsTone PoemOrchestra
12 Firebird SuiteStravinskyBallet MusicOrchestra
13 Floating - for piano and stringsGomersallTone PoemOrchestra
14 Gayane BalletKhachaturianBallet MusicOrchestra
15 Gymnopédies (for piano)SatieSuiteSolo
16 Interlude No 1 in F for String QuartetGomersallChamber MusicString Quartet
17 JerusalemParrySacredOrchestra
18 Knightsbridge MarchCoatesMarchOrchestra
19 Liberty Bell MarchSousaMarchMilitary Band
20 Lieutenant Kije Suite - Op 60ProkofievSuiteOrchestra
21 Maple Leaf RagJoplinShort PieceSolo
22 Midsummer Vigil (Swedish Rhapsody No.1)AlfvenShort PieceOrchestra
23 Minuet for Hand BellsGomersallChamber MusicOrchestra
24 Mock MorrisGraingerShort PieceSolo
25 Mouvement perpetuelsPoulencShort PieceSolo
26 Mysteria - Tone Picture for Orchestra.GomersallTone PoemOrchestra
27 New RagJoplinShort PieceDuet
28 Overture in E minorGomersallOvertureOrchestra
29 Peter and the WolfProkofievSuiteOrchestra
30 Piano Trio in DGomersallChamber MusicTrio
31 Punch (Le Polichinelle)Villa-LobosShort PieceSolo
32 Rite of Spring - Adoration of the EarthStravinskyBallet MusicOrchestra
33 Romeo and Juliet Suite - Madrigal - Love themeProkofievBallet MusicOrchestra
34 Rumanian Folk DancesBartókShort PieceSolo
35 Rustle of Spring Op 32 No.3SindingShort PieceSolo
36 Savannah ExcerptsGomersallSuiteOrchestra
37 Schwanda the Bagpiper - polkaWeinbergerShort PieceOrchestra
38 Shepherd's Hey, from English Morris DancesGraingerShort PieceSolo
39 Spartacus BalletKhachaturianBallet MusicOrchestra
40 Study in Rondo FormGomersallChamber MusicWind Chamber Groups
41 Study in Ternary FormGomersallShort PieceString Quartet
42 Sunshine WaltzesGomersallWaltzOrchestra
43 Taiti Trot (Tea for two)ShostakovichShort PieceOrchestra
44 The Blackbird (Tone Poem)GomersallTone PoemOther Ensembles
45 The Easy WinnersJoplinShort PieceSolo
46 The EntertainerJoplinMiscellaneousOther Ensembles
47 The Lark AscendingVaughan-WilliamsTone PoemOrchestra
48 The Old Woman and the PedlarGomersallChamber MusicString Quartet
49 The Planets SuiteHolstSuiteOrchestra
50 Tranquil OvertureGomersallOvertureOrchestra
51 Waltz from masqueradeKhachaturianWaltzOrchestra
52 Waltz No.2 from Suite for Variety Orchestra.ShostakovichWaltzPops Orchestra
53 West to East - Suite for OrchestraGomersallSuiteOrchestra
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