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The Difference Of Music From The 19 Century To Now

Historically there are many differences between music from the 19th century and now but there are also many similarities. Music is a way to reflect upon culture and it always has been. Music has been used throughout history as a way to motivate people to certain feelings and, therefore, is sometimes a useful way to gain insight into cultures at transformative times in their history. You will find, as you study this, that certain types of music are usually employed for certain purposes.

If you look at music from the 19th century until now you will notice the theme of nationalism. For better or worse, music has oftentimes been a component of nationalism in societies. As an example, the very famous and beloved 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky was written to commemorate a Russian military victory over Napoleon in that same year. Not only is this piece reflective of the political attitude of the time, it’s also reflective of the era in music. Being a Romantic piece, it is huge, expressive and sometimes bombastic in its nature. The ending features the famous cannon-firing motif, and this rather reflects the impression that Tchaikovsky was trying to make about Russia’s military greatness.

For another, more destitute, impression of militarism, “We’re Here Because We’re Here” was a popular tune among World War I soldiers. The song only has one line, “We’re here because we’re here” and it’s sung to the traditional tune Auld Lang Syne. The song reflects the feeling of pointlessness and futility felt by the men fighting in the trenches and, perhaps more than any patriotic song of the era, captures the human impact of the war. Music, in this regard, can reflect pride and triumph or horror and pointlessness.

Then there is the theme of culture which is reflected in music from the 19th century until now. Music also reflects cultural values and, to some degree, influences them. Consider the labor songs of the early 20th Century. Many of them, even if they weren’t written during the era being discussed, reflect the hardships of the era and the nobility of the working people. Loretta Lynn’s “Coalminer’s Daughter” is a fine example.

Overall music from the 19th century until now has truly showcased the differences between cultures. It has also been a means of celebrating nationalism. Music was historically and remains today an important tool for all nations.

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