Period: 500 – 1400
The Medieval era began with the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century and ended with the emergence of the Renaissance in the early fifteenth century. Establishing exactly when the Medieval period ended and the Renaissance began can be disputed. This was the period in which rhythmic notation first appeared in western music and in which concepts of formal structure were established.
Period: 1400 – 1600
Renaissance music developed about 100 years after the movement had sprung up in other disciplines. Music was significantly influenced by developments in philosophy, politics and the emergence of what we now refer to as Modern history. Renaissance composers found innovative ways to make music express the meanings of the texts they were setting, which proved to be a groundbreaking development.
Period: 1600 – 1750
The word 'Baroque' is derived from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning a misshapen shell – this was actually a derogatory term applied later by historians referring to the ornamented elaborateness of Baroque architecture and music. Instrumental and vocal repertoire became more intricate and opened larger possibilities for more substantial and sophisticated operas, sonatas, concertos and sacred music.
Period: 1730 – 1820
The Classical Period lies between the Baroque period and Romantic periods but has come to be an umbrella term for Western art music in general. In the Classical period, the existing musical forms, for instance the sonata and concerto, became more clearly defined, with order and clarity easily perceived. Tastes for opera became more widespread and the symphony took off.
Period: 1780 – 1910
The Romantic Period originated towards the end of the 18th century with its peak around 1850 and extending into the early twentieth century. Romanticism arose as a reaction to the industrial revolution, the Age of Enlightenment and progress in science.
Period: 1900 - 1945
The early twentieth century saw a sudden rapid increase in innovation – both technologically and artistically. Twentieth century music brought more freedom in compositional styles, breaking down the moulds of previous conventions and reaching new audiences.
Period: 1940 - 1999
The late twentieth century period began at a crucial time in modern history. The social and political upheaval brought about by World War II inevitably led to a new way of thinking: philosophically, intellectually and in turn, artistically. Electronics, minimalism, serial music and neo-romanticism all took new directions in these dynamic decades.
Period: present day
Since the beginning of the new millennium of music, many paradigms have continued on their path and evolved parallel with the use of technology. In the wake of digital elements becoming increasingly available and affordable, more and more new aesthetics are emerging.