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Changes in Musical Life in the 18th Century:

The changes of the uses and meanings of musics in the 18th century – how and why it happened

By the beginning of the eighteenth century, musicians and composers were employed and considered to be just artisans. They were paid by and worked at courts, in churches or in cities. Music as such to a great extent served different functional needs, which meant that lyrics and the structure of music were always adapted to specific conventions and situations. The individuality of the composer and the musical style of the individual were of minor importance and subordinated to the tradition at hand and the conventional forms of music. Vocal music was understood as the primary kind of music.

The eighteenth century witnessed many changes in society. Among changes within musical life may be mentioned the rise of public concerts, a growing market for printed music, and from a general point of view, an understanding of the importance of musicking as a part of bourgeois daily life. Composers slowly began to adjust their music to the demands of a market where songs and musics were bought and sold. Music was, however, also increasingly considered, and experienced as, an aesthetic object – even a subject.

The general aim of this combined music-theoretical and ethnomusicological project, thus, is to explain how these rather revolutionary changes were possible in such a short period of time.

Project leader: Olle Edström
Project duration: 2009–2014
Funding: The Faculty of Arts and grants from academic foundations

Contact Information

Olle Edström

PO Box 200, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

Visiting Address:
Vera Sandbergs Allé 8, room 3158A

+46-(0)31-786 4191

Page Manager: Felicia Bigot Klinteberg|Last update: 5/3/2016

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