Common Practice Period

The historic period from about 1600 until 1900

The "Common Practice Period", also referred to as the "Common Practice Era", designates a period in Western classical music spanning approximately from 1600 to 1900. During this period, music adhered to a shared set of harmonic, tonal, and structural conventions that formed the foundation of classical music.

The Common Practice Period is a significant epoch in Western classical music characterized by the consistency of musical structure and style. During this era, composers widely followed shared harmonic practices, including the use of primary and secondary intervals, chord progressions, and resolutions, while establishing clear tonal centers in their compositions. This tonal framework provided listeners with a stable musical foundation and a clear sense of musical direction.

The Common Practice Period comprises three major musical eras:

  1. Baroque Era (approximately 1600-1750): During this period, emphasis was placed on polyphonic organization, counterpoint, and emotional expression. Baroque music highlighted contrasts, ornamentation, and expressive performance.
  2. Classical Era (approximately 1750-1820): The hallmark of this period's music is a pursuit of balance, symmetry, and structure. Classical music emphasized clear melodies, rhythmic stability, and formal innovation, such as the four-movement structure of symphonies.
  3. Romantic Era (approximately 1820-1900): In the Romantic period, composers sought personal emotion and expression, resulting in music that was more emotionally rich and resonant. Tonalities were often challenged, and musical structures became more complex and varied.

The music forms and styles of the Common Practice Period hold a significant place in the history of Western classical music and laid the foundation for subsequent musical developments. Despite the diversity of modern music, the harmonic and structural principles of the Common Practice Period remain of importance in music education and appreciation.

Example of Common Practice Period

What is the Common Practice Period? [Music History]