Introduction to Music of the 20th Century

Dr. Diane Earle, pianist and professor of music at Kentucky Wesleyan College, discusses the Modern period (which began in the early 20th century) as a time of great change both in society and music. She discusses tonality, melody, rhythm, dynamics, and timbre in Modern period music. To illustrate, she performs an excerpt from “Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin, then the piece “Ragtime” by Igor Stravinsky. Then she describes the music of Henry Cowell, who experimented with unusual techniques on the piano, and performs his works “The Tides of Manaunaun” and “Aeolian harp.”

Classroom activities and discussion questions available on PBS LearningMedia.

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K-12The Arts