20th CENTURY 1900-2000

Time Line

The 20th century was a time of great innovation and exploration. From the Wright brothers first flight to the moon landing people began to explore the potential of mankind to make great strides in progress. Inventions such as the record player, portable radios, cassette and CD players and television made music a part of the popular culture. Music videos put stories behind songs and allowed everyone to see the faces behind the music. American education began to change with the end of segregated schools and, in later years, the inclusion of computers in schools and classrooms and eventually the use of the internet. Live entertainment progressed with the premier of the first modern musical, Oklahoma. The first musical production to combine dance, dialogue and song seamlessly into one live production. While the world was entertained it was also saddened, tragedies such as the sinking of the great Titanic early in the century and the Challenger explosion in the later half will always be remembered as well as the loss of lives of soldiers in the wars that were fought during this era. The 20th century was a time of great change in all aspects of life.

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Musical Evolution
The transition from the Romantic Era to the 20th Century brought major changes in "classical" music. Diversity and experimentation characterized the period, especially the first half of the century. Composers in the beginning of the century explored many different styles of music. Impressionist composers Debussy and Ravel wrote music that seemed more vague and blurred than the Romantic style. New, slightly dissonant, chords were used; and like Impressionist paintings, much of their music describes nature. Composer Arnold Schoenberg threw out traditional ideas of harmony by using all twelve tones of the chromatic scale equally with no single pitch forming a key center. Stravinsky and others wrote music referred to as Neo Classical. This music returned to the Classical principals of balance and form but also reflected more modern trends such as unexpected rhythms, chromatism, and dissonance. Popular music such as jazz, country, folk, rock & roll and rap had a significant impact on 20th Century culture. The widespread use of phonographs, radios and eventually television and other devices allowed the mass distribution of recorded music. This made the influence of popular music a much greater influence on daily life. In addition, the new technologies of computers and electronic instruments have had a major effect on the ways music is composed, performed and recorded.

Synthesizer- uses a keyboard, like a piano, to create sounds that have been pre-programmed in a computer. It can duplicate the sound of any instrument, or create sound like no other.


Electric Guitar- a guitar whose sound is amplified by electromagnetic means It was invented in 1931. Les Paul and Fender guitars, both produced in the United States, are among the best known and most frequently used guitars in the world.


Theremin-invented in 1919, the theremin is a unique instrument that it is played without being touched. The theremin consists of a box with two external antennae. Approaching the vertical antenna with a hand controls the pitch while moving a hand over the horizontal antenna changes the volume.

Miburi- is a wearable instrument that allows your movements to make music. This was made in 1990 and only sold in Japan.

Steel drum- is made from 55 gallon oil drums and comes in a variety of musical ranges. It was made in the 1930’s.

Chapman Stick- is played with a unique two-handed tapping method or a combination of tapping and plucking strings. Emmett Chapman first developed this two-handed method of playing in 1969. The first commercial Stick was introduced in 1974.

Important Composers

andrew_1.jpgAndrew Lloyd Webber was born in England on March 22, 1948. At an early age Andrew was recognized for his musical talent. When he was little his Aunt took him to musicals and movies. He liked them so much he created a theater at his house and made his own musicals when he was a teenager. Now Andrew Lloyd Webber is famous for his smash Broadway productions such as Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat, just to name a few.

john_williams_1.jpgJohn Williams was born in Long Island, New York on February 8, 1932. After college he was drafter into the Air Force, this gave him a chance to compose for the Air Force band. after he was done in the Air Force, he went to Julliard in New York, to study piano. John Williams composed the musical scores for movies such as ET, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, the Indian Jones Trilogy and Harry Potter. In all John has composed music for about eighty movies.

John-Lennon-Quotes_1.jpgJohn Lennon and Paul McCarthy were a set, if you wanted one of them, you would get both of them. John and Paul’s band were called the Quarrymen, it was originally called a John Lennon band, but Paul joined, so they changed the band name. They also worked/ recorded with The Beatles. John and Paul wrote roughly about 180 jointly songs. But, unlike many songwriting partners, which comprise separate lyricist and composer, both Lennon and McCartney wrote words and music; often, their songs were principally the work of one of the two credited authors. Later on, on the day of December 8, 1980, John Lennon was assisanated.

21st Century and Beyond
The Reactable is a revolutionary electronic musical instrument designed to make music of today and tomorrow. The musician controls the system by moving tangible objects called pucks. The instrument body is a translucent and luminous round table, and by putting pucks on the surface of the table, turning and connecting them to each other, performers can combine different elements to create musical effects. As soon as a puck is placed on the table it instantly begins to interact with the other pucks. The interaction on the table surface is shown which also makes the table a screen. The Reactable makes music both visible and tangible.

Mark Burton’s ReacTogon is a electronic instrument that creates sounds by automatically playing the notes of a chord related to the single note that the player chooses. It works like an arpeggiator, a feature that is available on most electronic keyboards. The ReacTogon consists of a large table with hexagons across the surface. Each hexagon represents a musical note. The notes can be played with the touch of a finger but the true magic begins with the placement of movable disks on top of each shape to begin creating musical patterns.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic brings musical performance into the 21st century by adding the magical affect of a three dimensional film . PhilharMagic is an attraction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom which opened in October 2003 based on music. 3-D may make this attraction bring in viewers, but it is based on the music of many Disney Films. The attraction takes Donald Duck through s magical world only possible by the music from Disney Films which include Be our Guest ( Beauty and the Beast), Fantasia, Part of that world (Under the Sea), Just can’t wait to be King (The Lion King), and Whole New World (Aladdin) .

Where will music performance and composition take us in the future? With the constant invention of new electronic devices the possibilities are endless. Take a look at the following video of a concert, performed entirely on the Apple iPad and iPhone.