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22 Apr 2015

Understanding Classical Music: 10 Simple Pieces of Advice

Music can be called the most elusive and intangible kind of art that endlessly depends on the human. Music exists only in the presence of a listener who perceives the music language. Without understanding the music speech, a music piece turns into a set of chaotic combination of sounds.

The attitude to music was changing throughout the centuries. Public tastes changed, new music trends were born. In the 20th century the music art split into two major branches – popular and classical. Today one can observe a big gap between popular and classical music.

In popular music, in most cases a limited set of harmonic means is used: a permanent rhythmic pattern and simple couplet or three-part forms. Easily memorized music themes repeat time and again. It all works well for an easier perception: the process of listening to such music does not cause any internal tension. The simpler, the better.

Classical music, on the contrary, follows the path of continuous complicating. More often composers besides using the common laws of music language development introduce new elements created on the basis of mathematic calculations. Deliberate refusal from the “classical rules” of musical fabric development leads to the fact that in many cases classical music is perceived as complicated and incomprehensible.

This and other factors become the reason for the decrease in popularity of classical music in the world. According to Google Trends information, the popularity of “classical music” request in Google search has decreased by over three times since 2005 and will presumably keep falling.

From our point of view, the reasons for this are the incomprehension of classical music language and, in many cases, the time gap between the author and the listener. Perhaps, the following pieces of advice will help someone to discover this wonderful world created by many exceptionally talented personalities over the centuries.

  1. Polyphonic (multivoiced) music of Bach and Händel is often based on a dance rhythm which facilitates the perception. Listen attentively to the brightest returning melody. Its development is a journey where the composer invites you. Just follow the new adventures on this way. Don’t rush to understand everything at once, better go back to listening to the piece in a while. Gradually, your perception will delaminate and you will learn to follow all music lines simultaneously.
  2. The language of classical and romantic music of the 18-19th centuries is very close to the human speech intonation. Just give a close listen to the movement of the melody. You will easily learn to distinguish the narrative, interrogative and exclamative intonations.
  3. Every musical thought has beginning and end. Pay attention to the pauses.
  4. If you listen closely, you’ll be surprised to find out that in classical music melodies and themes also repeat. But they rarely repeat without changes. That’s why it seems to us that music is constantly developing.
  5. Rhythm and harmony will prompt you what image or emotion is expressed by music. Rely on your perception.
  6. In contemporary music, it is often hard to define the beginning and end of the section, music theme and phrase. Just relax and perceive the sound as a whole, as a ‘sound combination’ at a certain moment.
  7. Composers’ choice of instruments is not accidental. Tone quality is a paint that helps to express the necessary emotional state or draw the needed image. For example, the violin, cello and oboe are often used to imitate the human voice. The sound of the flute reminds of a bird’s singing. Try to draw parallels between the sounds common to your ear.
  8. Start your acquaintance with classical music from the music pieces you already know. In case it’s hard to pick, just have a look at our list of “Top 10 classical music pieces”.
  9. Do not run into extremes – leave contemporary and earlier-centuries music for later. Start with the golden mean – the Romantic period: Chopin, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Dvořák and others.
  10. The process of studying the language of classical music requires time. Stock up on patience. Do not expect fast results.

The complicated and diverse world of classical music opens up only to those who make efforts to learn it. And it’s worth it! The most wonderful thing is that it’s never too late to start your journey to this amazing country created by the fantasy of genius composers. An entire world that exists only within your consciousness. That magic country is the place where the elegant images of princes and princesses come to life, where exotic animals live, outlandish flowers bloom and every turn has wondrous adventures prepared for you.

15 Mar 2015

MusicaNeo Sheet Music Catalogue: 200 000+ Music Scores Online!

MusicaNeo Sheet Music Catalogue: 200 000+ Music Scores Online!This year MusicaNeo hits a new landmark: over 200’000 music scores are now available for download and print. This new number is first of all the expression of your loyalty to MusicaNeo and the continuous support of thousands of users – composers, musicians, publishers, producers, teachers, music lovers and enthusiasts. Together, we have gone through various stages and have accomplished unique projects for the development of music education and modern art.

Alongside sheet music collections for modern instruments like piano, violin, guitar or flute, our catalogue also has sections for rare and exotic instruments, as divers as mellotron, heckelphon, hulusi, didgeridoo, Native American flute, cimbasso, mandola, dungchen, theorbo and many others. Then there is a special section with music works that can be performed on any instrument. This collection reflects a new trend in modern art – a sort of ‘tonal ecumenism’.

By the way, the first signs of this phenomenon (in hidden form as arrangements for other instruments) can already be found in the creative work of classical composers. Take for example the widely known Sonata for Violin and Piano by César Franck, deservedly loved by listeners and performers. It was written 130 years ago for another great musician Eugène Ysaÿe and was later arranged for many other instruments – cello, viola, flute, piano, saxophone and even tuba. The cello version of the sonata received the composer’s approval. Our Classical Sheet Music catalogue, along with the original version, contains the score of Franck’s sonata for solo organ.

The tendency of erasing tonal boundaries is most visible in pop music. Publishing houses do immense work to transpose popular songs for various instruments and combinations. For example, Ed Sheeran’s Grammy-nominated song “I See Fire” from the film “Hobbit” is present in various versions, including music scores for guitar, ukulele, clarinet and saxophone in our Pop Sheet Music catalogue.

The genre diversity of MusicaNeo’s sheet music archive is no less impressive. Contemporary composers try themselves in the most unexpected music genres and give space to the sound of folk motives of various peoples of the world. The best proof for this is the extensive Ethnic Sheet Music section that counts over 60 sub-categories.

Another unique feature of the MusicaNeo sheet music collection is the section of Contemporary Music works that can be purchased together with a performing license - directly from the composer. We are convinced that the future belongs to this method of managing author’s rights. This way, all profit from the performing right fee goes directly to the composer. With the help of modern technologies, MusicaNeo makes the way from composer to performer the shortest possible.

No matter how many music scores there are in our database, each published music work is a new discovery and handled with great care. All publications are thoroughly reviewed by our music experts’ team, in order to provide the highest quality of the sheet music published and the most accurate match with music categories. We are trying to provide each author an opportunity to promote his/her creative work using all available tools, including MusicaNeo’s featured sections, the site’s homepage, social networks and blogs.

How the MusicaNeo sheet music catalogue develops over the next years is a question of time. Today we are doing the utmost so that every user feels comfortable as part of the MusicaNeo community – an endlessly diverse community of musicians and creative people from various corners of the planet.

27 Feb 2015

Up to 30% discount on all Featured Sheet Music!

Up to 30% discount on all Featured Sheet Music!With International Women’s Day just around the corner, MusicaNeo has prepared a surprise – up to 30% discount on all Featured Sheet Music!

The best of classical and pop music compositions can be purchased at a special price from today until March 8! Do not lose the chance to surprise your loved ones with new music pearls. All music scores that are part of the special offer can be found in Featured Sheet Music catalogue. The prices displayed include the discount.

MusicaNeo congratulates all community members on the end of winter (well, at least for us in the Northern hemisphere) - and all beautiful ladies on the oncoming Women’s Day!

28 Jan 2015

Winter in Classical Music

Everyone has a favourite season of the year but there is obviously something to like about all the four. Charming and beautiful each in their own way – summer, autumn, winter and spring – are all loved and awaited in different spots of the planet. The Northern hemisphere is in the middle of the coldest time of the year now so let us warm up by looking at it in a different, music light. Depending on the occupation we all see the world through the prism of our interests. Composers also used to create a lot of ‘seasonal’ works, being inspired by the time of the year and the associations it brought. We have selected a few works dedicated to/inspired by winter in order to draw a portrait of this season as seen by the great composers.

As a rule, the first classical composition associated with the winter is Antonio Vivaldi’s “Winter” from “The Four Seasons”. But there’s definitely much more out there, so let’s remember the works that provide a nice music description of the frosty lady.

Winter Daydreams. Peter Tchaikovsky

It is known that this symphony cost Tchaikovsky a lot of effort, zeal and even suffering, being composed day and night and rejected a few times. According to composer himself, this creation is more substantial than his other music works. The symphony is a dedication to Nikolai Rubinstein who performed the full work in 1868 with great success. The first two movements – “Dreams of a Winter Journey” and “Land of Desolation, Land of Mists” picture an especially vivid picture of a classical Russian winter.

Movement I. “Dreams of a Winter Journey”, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev:

Winterreise. Franz Schubert

Schubert’s winter travel depicts a very different image compared to Tchaikovsky’s. This song cycle of 24 pieces based on poems by Müller is a way more somber and haunting music set. At the time of composition Schubert was sick with syphilis and his mental health was shattered too. “Winterreise” became an allegoric journey of composer’s heart. This is the poetry of love, loneliness and struggle; winter is rather pictured as a severe and cruel environment.

“Winterrise”, complete set performed by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Alfred Brendel:

The Snow Maiden. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Another Russian composer who is very familiar with winter like no other. The four-act opera “The Snow Maiden” is a beautiful magic story where the forces of nature have a very distinguished musical portrait. The nature is mythically animated through the characters (e.g. ‘mother Spring Beauty’, ‘grandfather Frost’) and all that with folk motifs added make the opera very sparkling and lively.

The Snow is Dancing. Claude Debussy

“The Snow is Dancing” is one of the six pieces from the suite by Claude Debussy called “Children’s Corner”. The entire music work is meant to evoke the sweet childhood memories and the winter here is also pictured in a very soft and playful manner.

Der Schneemann. Erich Wolfgang Korngold

The ballet “Der Schneemann” (“The Snowman”) was composed by the little prodigy Korngold at the early age of only 11 years. The 1910 premier that took place at the Vienna Court Opera was a real sensation and Emperor Franz Josef himself approved the work by the young composer-genius.

Der Winter. Joachim Raff

Symphony No. 11 (“The Winter”) is the last major composition by Raff. The music was unfinished when he died so Raff’s friend Max Erdmannsdörfer completed the work and published its score after composer’s death. Music critics sometimes compare this symphony with Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Daydreams” we mentioned above.

Winter Wind. Frederic Chopin

“Winter Wind” is the name of the etude No. 11 composed by Chopin in 1836. It’s actually a technical study for solo piano aimed at developing both hands’ technique and dexterity in playing the piano.

Etude, Op.25 - No. 11 in A minor "Winter Wind" performed by Evgeny Kissin:

Snow Storm. Georgy Sviridov

In 1964, a story by one of the greatest Russian authors Alexander Pushkin – “The Blizzard” – was made into a same-named film. The soundtrack to this film was composed by a Soviet composer Georgy Sviridov who a bit later decided to turn it into a suite calling it ‘musical illustrations to Aleksandr Pushkin's story’.

The list of ‘winter compositions’ is not a short one. Besides classical authors there are a lot of contemporary composers who also dedicated a part of their creative work to seasons and the emotions triggered by them. At MusicaNeo you can find music scores to both classical masterpieces and modern music artworks.