A Classical Education

The story is about how classical music interest and production is waning. The problem pointed at is the decline of sounds typically associated with classical music that arose in the 20th century — in particular, atonal works became were produced more frequently, and it appeared that classical music lovers were rejecting that sort of music in favor of the more tonal classics of the 17th through 19th centuries.

Obviously, this project had a lot of possibilities. The writer came to me with a simple idea: he wanted to show the changing trends in classical music over its 400-year history with short samples from several of the most recognizable classical music composers. So I knew that we would be presenting web audiences with short (30 seconds or less) clips of these songs, divided by eras. A timeline seemed like a natural fit, but most timelines are very dull. Time to get creative!

The most recognizable musical score (as far as I can tell, in my informal sampling of friends, family and colleagues) is the beginning of Beethovan’s Fifth Symphony. The dun-dun-dun-duuuuunnnn, dun, dun, dun duuuunnnnn has a fairly simple musical notation, even for those that don’t know how to read music. So I decided to use that as the basis of the timeline.



When readers clicked on an individual (highlighted) note, they get information about the era, as well as a simple PLAY and STOP button for each artist in that era that we provided a sample for.

Each sample was picked for its ability to convey a historical snapshot in just a few short seconds — most were samples from significantly lengthy works, such as symphonies or operas. In another post, I’ll go over the legal considerations needed when using copyrighted works, which were covered in a conference I attended.

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