European Art Music Definition Essay

The culture of Europe is rooted in the art, architecture, music, literature, and philosophy that originated from the Europeancultural region.[1] European culture is largely rooted in what is often referred to as its "common cultural heritage".[2]


Because of the great number of perspectives which can be taken on the subject, it is impossible to form a single, all-embracing conception of European culture.[3] Nonetheless, there are core elements which are generally agreed upon as forming the cultural foundation of modern Europe.[4] One list of these elements given by K. Bochmann includes:[5]

  • A common cultural and spiritual heritage derived from Greco-Roman antiquity, Christianity, the Renaissance and its Humanism, the political thinking of the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution, and the developments of Modernity, including all types of socialism;[6]
  • A rich and dynamic material culture that has been extended to the other continents as the result of industrialization and colonialism during the "Great Divergence";[6]
  • A specific conception of the individual expressed by the existence of, and respect for, a legality that guarantees human rights and the liberty of the individual;[6]
  • A plurality of states with different political orders, which are feeding each other with new ideas;[6]
  • Respect for peoples, states and nations outside Europe.[6]

Berting says that these points fit with "Europe's most positive realisations".[7] The concept of European culture is generally linked to the classical definition of the Western world. In this definition, Western culture is the set of literary, scientific, political, artistic and philosophical principles which set it apart from other civilizations. Much of this set of traditions and knowledge is collected in the Western canon.[8] The term has come to apply to countries whose history has been strongly marked by European immigration or settlement during the 18th and 19th centuries, such as the Americas, and Australasia, and is not restricted to Europe..

The Nobel Prize laureate in Literature Thomas Stearns Eliot in his 1948 book Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, credited the prominent Christian influence upon the European culture:[9] "It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe have--until recently--been rooted."


Main articles: European art and Western painting

Prehistoric Art[edit]

Much surviving prehistoric art is small portable sculptures. It includes the oldest known representation of the human body, the Venus of Hohle Fel, dating from 35,000-40,000 BC, found in Schelklingen, Germany. It is part of a small group of female Venus figurines found in Central Europe. The Löwenmensch figurine, from about 30,000 BC, is the oldest undisputed piece of figurative art. The Swimming Reindeer of about 11,000 BCE is among the finest Magdalenian carvings in bone or antler of animals in the art of the Upper Paleolithic. With the beginning of the Mesolithic in Europe figurative sculpture greatly reduced, and remained a less common element in art than relief decoration of practical objects until the Roman period, despite some works such as the Gundestrup cauldron from the European Iron Age and the Bronze Age Trundholm sun chariot.

The oldest European cave art dates back 40,800, and can be found in the El Castillo Cave in Spain, but cave art exists across the continent. Rock painting was also performed on cliff faces, but fewer of those have survived because of erosion. One well-known example is the rock paintings of Astuvansalmi in the Saimaa area of Finland.

The Rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin represents a very different style, with the human figure the main focus, often seen in large groups, with battles, dancing and hunting all represented, as well as other activities and details such as clothing. The figures are generally rather sketchily depicted in thin paint, with the relationships between the groups of humans and animals more carefully depicted than individual figures. The Iberian examples are believed to date from a long period perhaps covering the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic and early Neolithic.

Prehistoric Celtic art comes from much of Iron Age Europe and survives mainly in the form of high-status metalwork skillfully decorated with complex, elegant and mostly abstract designs, often using curving and spiral forms. There are human heads and some fully represented animals, but full-length human figures at any size are so rare that their absence may represent a religious taboo. As the Romans conquered Celtic territories, it almost entirely vanishes, but the style continued in limited use in the British Isles, and with the coming of Christianity revived there in the Insular styleof the Early Middle Ages.

Classical Art[edit]

Minoan art encompassed many media. Pottery was characterized by thin walled vessels, subtle, symmetrical shapes, elegant spouts, and decorations, and dynamic lines. Dark and light values were often contrasted in Minoan pottery. Early designs were spontaneous and fluid, with later ones becoming more stylized, and less naturalistic. The best known example of Minoan sculpture is the Snake Goddess figurine. The sculpture depicts a goddess or a high priestess holding a snake in both hands, dressed in traditional Minoan attire, cloth covering the whole body and leaving the breasts exposed. Exquisite metal work was also a characteristic of the Minoan art. Minoan metal masters worked with imported gold and copper and mastered techniques of wax casting, embossing, gilding, nielo, and granulation. Minoan painting was unique in that it used wet fresco techniques; it was characterized by small waists, fluidity, and vitality of the figures and was seasoned with elasticity, spontaneity, vitality, and high-contrasting colours.

Ancient Greek art stands out among that of other ancient cultures for its development of naturalistic but idealized depictions of the human body, in which largely nude male figures were generally the focus of innovation. The rate of stylistic development between about 750 and 300 BC was remarkable by ancient standards, and in surviving works is best seen in sculpture. There were important innovations in painting, which have to be essentially reconstructed due to the lack of original survivals of quality, other than the distinct field of painted pottery. Greek architecture, technically very simple, established a harmonious style with numerous detailed conventions that were largely adopted by Roman architecture and are still followed in some modern buildings. It used a vocabulary of ornament that was shared with pottery, metalwork and other media, and had an enormous influence on Eurasian art, especially after Buddhism carried it beyond the expanded Greek world created by Alexander the Great. The social context of Greek art included radical political developments and a great increase in prosperity; the equally impressive Greek achievements in philosophy, literature and other fields are well known.

Roman art was influenced by Greece and can in part be taken as a descendant of ancient Greek painting and sculpture, but was also strongly influenced by the more local Etruscan art of Italy. Sculpture was perhaps considered as the highest form of art by Romans, but figure painting was also very highly regarded. Roman sculpture is primarily portraiture derived from the upper classes of society as well as depictions of the gods. However, Roman painting does have important unique characteristics. Among surviving Roman paintings are wall paintings, many from villas in Campania, in Southern Italy, especially at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Such painting can be grouped into four main "styles" or periods and may contain the first examples of trompe-l'oeil, pseudo-perspective, and pure landscape.

Almost the only painted portraits surviving from the Ancient world are a large number of coffin-portraits of bust form found in the Late Antique cemetery of Al-Fayum. They give an idea of the quality that the finest ancient work must have had. A very small number of miniatures from Late Antique illustrated books also survive, and a rather larger number of copies of them from the Early Medieval period. Early Christian art grew out of Roman popular, and later Imperial, art and adapted its iconography from these sources.

Medieval Art[edit]

Byzantine art developed out of the art of the Roman Empire, which was itself profoundly influenced by ancient Greek art. Byzantine art never lost sight of this classical heritage. The Byzantine capital, Constantinople, was adorned with a large number of classical sculptures, although they eventually became an object of some puzzlement for its inhabitants. And indeed, the art produced during the Byzantine Empire, although marked by periodic revivals of a classical aesthetic, was above all marked by the development of a new, abstract, aesthetic, marked by anti-naturalism and a favour for symbolism.

The subject matter of monumental Byzantine art was primarily religious and imperial: the two themes are often combined, as in the portraits of later Byzantine emperors that decorated the interior of the sixth-century church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. However, the Byzantines inherited the Early Christian distrust of monumental sculpture in religious art, and produced only reliefs, of which very few survivals are anything like life-size, in sharp contrast to the medieval art of the West, where monumental sculpture revived from Carolingian art onwards. Small ivories were also mostly in relief. The so-called "minor arts" were very important in Byzantine art and luxury items, including ivories carved in relief as formal presentation Consular diptychs or caskets such as the Veroli casket, hardstone carvings, enamels, glass, jewelry, metalwork, and figured silks were produced in large quantities throughout the Byzantine era.

Migration Period art includes the art of the Germanic tribes on the continent, as well the start of the Insular art or Hiberno-Saxon art of the Anglo-Saxonand Celtic fusion in the British Isles. It covers many different styles of art including the polychrome style and the animal style. After Christianization, Migration Period art developed into various schools of Early Medieval art in Western Europe which are normally classified by region, such as Anglo-Saxon art and Carolingian art, before the continent-wide styles of Romanesque art and finally Gothic art developed.

During the 2nd century the Goths of southern Russia discovered a newfound taste for gold figurines and objects inlaid with precious stones. This polychrome style was borrowed from Scythians and the Sarmatians, had some Greco-Roman influences, and was also popular with the Huns. Perhaps the most famous examples are found in the fourth-century Pietroasele treasure (Romania), which includes a great gold eagle brooch. The Animal Style first appeared in northwest Europe with the introduction of the chip carving technique applied to bronze and silver in the 5th century. It is characterized by animals whose bodies are divided into sections, and typically appear at the fringes of designs whose main emphasis is on abstract patterns. This was eventually supplanted by depictions of whole beasts, their bodies elongated into "ribbons" which intertwined into symmetrical shapes with no pretense of naturalism, rarely with legs, tending to be described as serpents- though heads often have characteristics of other animals.

Insular art is the style of art produced in the post-Roman history of Ireland and Britain. The term derives from insula, the Latin term for "island"; in this period Britain and Ireland shared a largely common style different from that of the rest of Europe. Surviving examples of Insular art are mainly illuminated manuscripts, metalwork and carvings in stone, especially stone crosses. Surfaces are highly decorated with intricate patterning, with no attempt to give an impression of depth, volume or recession. The best examples include the Book of Kells, Lindisfarne Gospels, Book of Durrow, brooches such as the Tara Brooch and the Ruthwell Cross. Carpet pages are a characteristic feature of Insular manuscripts, although historiated initials (an Insular invention), canon tables and figurative miniatures, especially Evangelist portraits, are also common.

Romanesque art is the art of Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The term was invented by 19th-century art historians, especially for Romanesque architecture, which retained many basic features of Roman architectural style. The Romanesque style was the first style to spread across the whole of Catholic Europe, from Sicily to Scandinavia. Romanesque art was greatly influenced by Byzantine art, especially in painting, and by Insular art. From these elements was forged a highly innovative and coherent style. Art of the period was characterised by a very vigorous style in both sculpture and painting. The latter continued to follow essentially Byzantineiconographic models for the most common subjects in churches, which remained Christ in Majesty, the Last Judgement and scenes from the Life of Christ. In illuminated manuscripts, for which the most lavishly decorated manuscripts of the period were mostly bibles or psalters, more originality is seen, as new scenes needed to be depicted. The same applied to the capitals of columns, never more exciting than in this period, when they were often carved with complete scenes with several figures. The large wooden crucifix was a German innovation at the very start of the period, as were free-standing statues of the enthroned Madonna, but the high relief was above all the sculptural mode of the period.

Colours tended to be very striking, and mostly primary. Stained glass became widely used, although survivals are sadly few. Compositions usually had little depth, and needed to be flexible to be squeezed into the shapes of historiated initials, column capitals, and church tympanums; the tension between a tightly enclosing frame, from which the composition sometimes escapes, is a recurrent theme in Romanesque art. Figures often varied in size in relation to their importance, and landscape backgrounds, if attempted at all, were closer to abstract decorations than realism. Portraiture hardly existed.

Gothic art developed in Northern France out of Romanesque art in the 12th century AD, led by the concurrent development of Gothic architecture. It spread to all of Western Europe, and much of Southern and Central Europe, never quite effacing more classical styles in Italy. In the late 14th century, the sophisticated court style of International Gothic developed, which continued to evolve until the late 15th century. In many areas, especially Germany, Late Gothic art continued well into the 16th century, before being subsumed into Renaissance art. Primary media in the Gothic period included sculpture, panel painting, stained glass, fresco and illuminated manuscripts. The easily recognizable shifts in architecture from Romanesque to Gothic, and Gothic to Renaissance styles, are typically used to define the periods in art in all media, although in many ways figurative art developed at a different pace.

The earliest Gothic art was monumental sculpture, on the walls of Cathedrals and abbeys. Christian art was often typological in nature (see Medieval allegory), showing the stories of the New Testament and the Old Testament side by side. Saints' lives were often depicted. Images of the Virgin Mary changed from the Byzantine iconic form to a more human and affectionate mother, cuddling her infant, swaying from her hip, and showing the refined manners of a well-born aristocratic courtly lady.

Secular art came into its own during this period with the rise of cities, foundation of universities, increase in trade, the establishment of a money-based economy and the creation of a bourgeois class who could afford to patronize the arts and commission works resulting in a proliferation of paintings and illuminated manuscripts. Increased literacy and a growing body of secular vernacular literature encouraged the representation of secular themes in art. With the growth of cities, trade guilds were formed and artists were often required to be members of a painters' guild—as a result, because of better record keeping, more artists are known to us by name in this period than any previous; some artists were even so bold as to sign their names.

Renaissance Art[edit]

Renaissance art emerged as a distinct style in northern Italy from around 1420, in parallel with developments which occurred in philosophy, literature, musicand science. It took as its foundation the art of Classical antiquity, but transformed that tradition by absorbing recent developments in the art of Northern Europe and by applying contemporary scientific knowledge. Renaissance artists painted a wide variety of themes. Religious altarpieces, fresco cycles, and small works for private devotion were very popular. For inspiration, painters in both Italy and northern Europe frequently turned to Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend (1260), a highly influential source book for the lives of saints that had already had a strong influence on Medieval artists. The rebirth of classical antiquity and Renaissance humanism also resulted in many Mythological and history paintings. Ovidian stories, for example, were very popular. Decorative ornament, often used in painted architectural elements, was especially influenced by classical Roman motifs.

Techniques characteristic of Renaissance art include the use of proportion and linear perspective; foreshortening, to create an illusion of depth; sfumato, a technique of softening of sharp outlines by subtle blending of tones to give the illusion of depth or three-dimensionality; and chiaroscuro, the effect of using a strong contrast between light and dark to give the illusion of depth or three-dimensionality.

Mannerism, Baroque and Rococo[edit]

Renaissance Classicism spawned two different movements—Mannerism and the Baroque. Mannerism, a reaction against the idealist perfection of Classicism, employed distortion of light and spatial frameworks in order to emphasize the emotional content of a painting and the emotions of the painter. Northern Mannerism took longer to develop, and was largely a movement of the last half of the 16th century. Where High Renaissance art emphasizes proportion, balance, and ideal beauty, Mannerism exaggerates such qualities, often resulting in compositions that are asymmetrical or unnaturally elegant. The style is notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial (as opposed to naturalistic) qualities. It favors compositional tension and instability rather than the balance and clarity of earlier Renaissance painting.

In contrast, Baroque art took the representationalism of the Renaissance to new heights, emphasizing detail, movement, lighting, and drama in their search for beauty. Perhaps the best known Baroque painters are Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, and Diego Velázquez. Baroque art is often seen as part of the Counter-Reformation—the artistic element of the revival of spiritual life in the Roman Catholic Church. Religious and political themes are widely explored within the Baroque artistic context, and both paintings and sculptures are characterised by a strong element of drama, emotion and theatricality. Baroque art was particularly ornate and elaborate in nature, often using rich, warm colours with dark undertones. Baroque art can be seen as a more elaborate and dramatic re-adaptation of late Renaissance art. Dutch Golden Age painting is a distinct subset of Baroque, leading to the development of secular genres such as still life, genre paintings of everyday scenes, and landscape painting.

By the 18th century, Baroque art was falling out of fashion as many deemed it too melodramatic and also gloomy, and it developed into the Rococo, which emerged in France. Rococo art was even more elaborate than the Baroque, but it was less serious and more playful. The artistic movement no longer placed an emphasis on politics and religion, focusing instead on lighter themes such as romance, celebration, and appreciation of nature. Furthermore, it sought inspiration from the artistic forms and ornamentation of Far Eastern Asia, resulting in the rise in favour of porcelain figurines and chinoiserie in general. Rococo soon fell out of favor, being seen by many as a gaudy and superficial movement emphasizing aesthetics over meaning. Neoclassicism in many ways developed as a counter movement of the Rococo, the impetus being a sense of disgust directed towards the latter's florid qualities.

Neoclassical, Romanticism, and Realism[edit]

Neoclassicism began in the 18th century as counter movement opposing the Rococo. It desired for a return to the simplicity, order and 'purism' of classical antiquity, especially ancient Greece and Rome. Neoclassicism was the artistic component of the intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment. Neoclassicism had become widespread in Europe throughout the 18th century, especially in the United Kingdom, which saw great works of Neoclassical architecture spring up during this period. In many ways, Neoclassicism can be seen as a political movement as well as an artistic and cultural one. Neoclassical art places an emphasis on order, symmetry and classical simplicity; common themes in Neoclassical art include courage and war, as were commonly explored in ancient Greek and Roman art. Ingres, Canova, and Jacques-Louis David are among the best-known neoclassicists.

Just as Mannerism rejected Classicism, Romanticism rejected the aesthetic of the Neoclassicists, specifically the highly objective and ordered nature of Neoclassicism, and opted for a more individual and emotional approach to the arts. Emphasis was placed on nature, especially when aiming to portray the power and beauty of the natural world, and emotions. Romantic art often used colours in order to express feelings and emotion. Similarly to Neoclassicism, Romantic art took much of its inspiration from ancient Greek and Roman art and mythology, yet, unlike Neoclassical, this inspiration was primarily used as a way to create symbolism and imagery. Romantic art also takes much of its aesthetic qualities from medievalism and Gothicism, as well as mythology and folklore. Among the greatest Romantic artists were Eugène Delacroix, Francisco Goya, J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, Caspar David Friedrich, Thomas Cole, and William Blake.

In response to these changes caused by Industrialisation, the movement of Realism emerged. Realism sought to accurately portray the conditions and hardships of the poor in the hopes of changing society. In contrast with Romanticism, which was essentially optimistic about mankind, Realism offered a stark vision of poverty and despair. Similarly, while Romanticism glorified nature, Realism portrayed life in the depths of an urban wasteland. Like Romanticism, Realism was a literary as well as an artistic movement. Other contemporary movements were more Historicist in nature, such as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who attempted to return art to its state of "purity" prior to Raphael, and the Arts and Crafts Movement, which reacted against the impersonality of mass-produced goods and advocated a return to medieval craftsmanship.

Modern Art[edit]


Richard Strauss, von Weber, Offenbach, Stockhausen, Mendelssohn (Germany), Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, (Russia), Schubert, Haydn, Mozart, Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg, Strauss (Austria), Berlioz, Machaut, Pérotin, Couperin, Lully, Rameau, Saint-Saëns, Bizet, Debussy, Ravel (France), Palestrina, Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Donizetti, Cavalli, Paganini, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Rossini (Italy), Tomás Luis de Victoria, Falla, Granados, Albéniz, Rodrigo (Spain), Smetana, Dvořák, Janáček, Martinů (Czechia), Dufay, des Prez, Lassus (Belgium), Sweelinck, Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, Willem Pijper, Louis Andriessen, Tristan Keuris (the Netherlands), Grieg (Norway), Liszt, Bartók (Hungary), Purcell, Elgar, Britten, Holst (UK), Nielsen (Denmark), Sibelius (Finland), Chopin, Penderecki (Poland), George Enescu, Sergiu Celibidache (Romania). Luciano Pavarotti was a contemporary popular opera singer. Orchestras such as the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra are considered to be amongst the finest ensembles in the world. The Salzburg Festival, the Bayreuth Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival and the BBC Proms are major European classical music festivals, and International Chopin Piano Competition is the world's oldest monographic music competition.

  • Folk music: Europe has a wide and diverse range of indigenous music, sharing common features in rural, travelling or maritime communities. Folk music is embedded in an unwritten, aural tradition, but was increasingly transcribed from the nineteenth century onwards. Many classical composers used folk melodies, and folk has influenced some popular music in Europe. See the list of European folk musics.
  • Popular music: Europe has also imported many different genres of music, mainly from the United States, ranging from Blues, Jazz, Soul, Pop, Electronic, Hip-Hop, R'n'B and Dance. The UK has been most successful in re-exporting this type of music and also creating many of its own genres via notable movements including the British Invasion, the new wave of British heavy metal (that has been compared to Beatlemania.[13]) and Britpop.
    • The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, David Bowie, Deep Purple, Sex Pistols, Eric Clapton, The Clash, Van Morrison, Dire Straits, The Police, Joy Division, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, George Michael, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, The Who, Eurythmics, Dusty Springfield, The Cure, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Duran Duran, Oasis, Radiohead, Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, The Smiths, Muse, Gorillaz, Bonnie Tyler, Seal, Elvis Costello, Bee Gees, Spice Girls, Depeche Mode, The Kinks, The Animals, Motörhead, UB40, One Direction, Adele, Amy Winehouse (UK), U2, The Undertones, Thin Lizzy, My Bloody Valentine, Sinéad O'Connor (Ireland).
    • Édith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, Léo Ferré, Charles Trenet, George Brassens, Jean Ferrat, Renaud, Noir Désir, Daft Punk, David Guetta, Justice, Bob Sinclar, Martin Solveig, Étienne de Crécy, M83, C2C, Jean Michel Jarre (France), Jacques Brel, Stromae (Belgium).
    • Denmark : Gasolin, DAD (Disneyland After Dark), Magtens Korridorer
    • Poland : Edyta Gorniak
    • Germany : Kraftwerk, Scorpions, Tangerine Dream, Neu!, Rammstein, Paul Kalkbrenner, Accept, Nina Hagen
    • Italy : Giorgio Moroder, Andrea Bocelli, Ennio Morricone, Benny Benassi
    • Sweden : ABBA, Björn Skifs, Europe, The Cardigans, The Hives, Roxette, Yngwie Malmsteen
    • Netherlands : Shocking Blue, Golden Earring, Doe Maar, Spinvis, Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, Afrojack
    • Others : Julio Iglesias, Enrique Iglesias (Spain), Björk, Sigur RósLepa Brena, (Iceland) Ceca Ražnatović, Jelena Karleuša, Seka Aleksić, Indira Radić, Dragana Mirković (Serbia), Vangelis, Demis Roussos, Helena Paparizou (Greece), Kati Wolf (Hungary), Eduard Artemyev, Eduard Khil, Kino, Mumiy Troll, Leningrad, Zemfira, t.A.T.u., PPK (Russia), Doda (Poland), Amália Rodrigues, The Legendary Tigerman, The Gift (Portugal), Rasmus Seebach, The Raveonettes, Agnes Obel, WhoMadeWho (Denmark), Bijelo Dugme (Yugoslavia), Alexandra Stan, Inna, Edward Maya (Romania), HIM, The Rasmus, Nightwish (Finland), Soulwax (Flanders).
    • Main festivals includes: Sanremo Music Festival, Coca-Cola Summer Festival (Italy), Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Isle of Wight Festival, T in the Park (UK), Fête de la Musique, Eurockéennes, Vieilles Charrues Festival, Hellfest (France), Wacken (Germany), Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, Primavera Sound (Spain), Exit Festival (Serbia), Sziget Festival (Hungary), Roskilde Festival (Denmark), Rock Werchter, Tomorrowland (Belgium) & Eurovision (music competition between European countries).
    • Main music companies : Domino Recording Company, Bertelsmann Music Group, PolyGram, EMI, Universal Music Group (Subsidiary of French company Vivendi).


See also: History of architecture

Prehistoric Architecture[edit]

The Neolithic long house was a long, narrow timber dwelling built by the first farmers in Europe beginning at least as early as the period 5000 to 6000 BC. Knap of Howar and Skara Brae, the Orkney Islands, Scotland, are stone-built Neolithic settlement dating from 3,500 BC. Megaliths found in Europe and the Mediterranean were also erected in the Neolithic period. See Neolithic architecture.

Ancient Classical Architecture[edit]

  • Ancient Greek architecture was produced by the Greek-speaking people whose culture flourished on the Greek mainland, the Peloponnese, the Aegean Islands, and in colonies in Anatolia and Italy for a period from about 900 BC until the 1st century AD. Ancient Greek architecture is distinguished by its highly formalised characteristics, both of structure and decoration. The formal vocabulary of ancient Greek architecture, in particular the division of architectural style into three defined orders: the Doric Order, the Ionic Order and the Corinthian Order, was to have profound effect on Western architecture of later periods.
  • Ancient Roman architecture adopted the external language of classical Greek architecture for the purposes of the ancient Romans, but differed from Greek buildings, becoming a new architectural style. The two styles are often considered one body of classical architecture. Roman architecture flourished in the Roman Republic and even more so under the Empire, when the great majority of surviving buildings were constructed. It used new materials, particularly concrete, and newer technologies such as the arch and the dome to make buildings that were typically strong and well-engineered. Large numbers remain in some form across the empire, sometimes complete and still in use.

Medieval Architecture[edit]

Europa and the Bull on a Greek vase, circa 480 BC

Art music (also called Western classical music, cultivated music, serious music, canonic music,[1] or erudite music[citation needed]) is music that implies advanced structural and theoretical considerations[2] and a written musical tradition.[3] The terms "serious" or "cultivated" are frequently used in relation to music in order to present a contrast with ordinary, everyday music (i.e. popular and folk music, also called "vernacular music").[4] After the 20th century, art music was divided into "serious music" and "light music".[5]


"Art music" is mostly used to refer to music descending from the tradition of Western classical music. Authors associated with the critical musicology movement and popular music studies, such as Philip Tagg, tend to reject the elitism associated with art music; he refers to it as one of an "axiomatic triangle consisting of 'folk', 'art' and 'popular' musics".[6] He explains that each of these three is distinguishable from the others according to certain criteria.[6] According to Bruno Nettl, "Western classical music" may also be synonymous with "art music", "canonic music, "cultivated music". "serious music", as well as the more flippantly used "real music" and "normal music".[1] Musician Catherine Schmidt-Jones defines art music as "a music which requires significantly more work by the listener to fully appreciate than is typical of popular music". In her view, "[t]his can include the more challenging types of jazz and rock music, as well as Classical".[7]

The term may also refer to:

  • The classical/art music traditions of several different cultures around the world;
  • Some forms of jazz, excluding most forms generally considered popular music. Jazz is generally considered popular music. (Adorno for example refers to jazz as some kind of popular music),[8]
  • Music that is highly formalized, that is, in which all or most musical elements are specified in advance, usually in written notation, as opposed to being improvised or otherwise left up to the performer's discretion.[9]

The term "art music" refers primarily to classical traditions (including contemporary as well as historical classical music forms) that focus on formal styles, invite technical and detailed deconstruction[2] and criticism, and demand focused attention from the listener. In strict western practice, art music is considered primarily a written musical tradition,[3] preserved in some form of music notation, as opposed to being transmitted orally, by rote, or in recordings (like popular and traditional music).[3][10]

Popular music[edit]

There have been continual attempts throughout the history of popular music to make a claim for itself as art rather than as popular culture, and a number of music styles that were previously understood as "popular music" have since been categorized in the art or classical category.[11] According to the academic Tim Wall, the most significant example of the struggle between Tin Pan Alley, African-American, vernacular, and art discourses was in jazz. As early as the 1930s, artists attempted to cultivate ideas of "symphonic jazz", taking it away from its perceived vernacular and black American roots. Following these developments, histories of popular music tend to marginalize jazz, partly because the reformulation of jazz in the art discourse has been so successful that many today would not consider it a form of popular music.[11]

In the second half of the 20th century, there was a large-scale trend in American culture toward blurring the boundaries between art and pop music.[12] Beginning in 1966, the degree of social and artistic dialogue among rock musicians dramatically accelerated for bands who fused elements of composed music with the oral musical traditions of rock.[13] During the late 1960s and 1970s, progressive-rock bands represented a form of crossover music that combined rock with high art musical forms either through quotation, allusion, or imitation.[12]Progressive music may be equated with explicit references to aspects of art music, sometimes resulting in the reification of rock as art music.[13]

While progressive rock is often cited for its merging of high culture and low culture, few artists incorporated literal classical themes in their work to any great degree, as author Kevin Holm-Hudson explains: "sometimes progressive rock fails to integrate classical sources ... [it] moves continuously between explicit and implicit references to genres and strategies derived not only from European art music, but other cultural domains (such as East Indian, Celtic, folk, and African) and hence involves a continuous aesthetic movement between formalism and eclecticism".[13]

See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Art music.


  1. ^ abBruno Nettl (1995). Heartland Excursions: Ethnomusicological Reflections on Schools of Music. University of Illinois Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-252-06468-5. 
  2. ^ abJacques Siron, "Musique Savante (Serious music)", Dictionnaire des mots de la musique (Paris: Outre Mesure): 242. ISBN 2-907891-22-7
  3. ^ abcDenis Arnold, "Art Music, Art Song", in The New Oxford Companion to Music, Volume 1: A–J (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1983): 111. ISBN 0-19-311316-3
  4. ^Jochen Eisentraut (2013). The Accessibility of Music: Participation, Reception, and Contact. Cambridge University Press. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-107-02483-0. 
  5. ^Michal Smoira Cohn (2010). The Mission and Message of Music: Building Blocks to the Aesthetics of Music in our Time. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 93–94. ISBN 978-1-4438-1883-4. 
  6. ^ abPhilip Tagg, "Analysing Popular Music: Theory, Method and Practice", Popular Music 2 (1982): 41.
  7. ^Catherine Schmidt-Jones, "What Kind of Music Is That?", from the website Connexions, last edited by Catherine Schmidt-Jones on 10 January 2007 8:58 am US/Central, retrieved on 12 December 2008.
  8. ^Theodor W. Adorno, "On Popular Music", in Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, 17–48 (New York: Institute of Social Research, 1941): IX.[full citation needed]
  9. ^Rambert, Quinta (Music Fellow). "Making new: an improvisation R&D". Rambert. Retrieved 18 March 2017.  
  10. ^Philip Tagg, "Analysing Popular Music: Theory, Method and Practice", Popular Music 2 (1982): 37–67, here 41–42.
  11. ^ abTim Wall (2013). Studying Popular Music Culture. SAGE Publications. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1-4462-9101-6. 
  12. ^ abJacqueline Edmondson, ed. (2013). Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories that Shaped our Culture. ABC-CLIO. pp. 317, 1233. ISBN 978-0-313-39348-8. 
  13. ^ abcKevin Holm-Hudson, ed. (2013). Progressive Rock Reconsidered. Routledge. pp. 85–87. ISBN 978-1-135-71022-4. 

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