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The Old Europa

How many types of music are there?

Traditionally, Western music was divided into two main currents which reflected the social and cultural division of the audience. While cultured music was linked to the aristocracy, popular music was followed by the rest of the population.

Cultured music, among which classical music stands out, includes those musical traditions that use complex structures, and that are written in musical notation while employing a variety of instruments.

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The term “cultured music” is frequently used as a synonym for Western classical music, but the majority of musicologists manage to differentiate them since cultured music not only includes classical music but also other manifestations like academic contemporary music, Indian, Chinese and Japanese classical music, some variatioins of jazz, rock, experimental music, etc. Cultured music is usually also referred to as erudite music, artistic music, or formal music.

Whar is popular music like?

As for popular music, it comprises a set of musical genres that generally have simpler structures, derive from oral tradition and usually have a remarked international character.

These characteristics make popular music attractive to the general public. It reaches large audiences through the mass media and it is massively distributed by the music industry.

Carmen Linares – La Tarara (1994)

This is a flamenco adaptation of an anonymous traditional song. It was edited in the álbum Canciones populares recopiladas por Federico García Lorca, and it stands as a clear example of popular music.

La Tarara is popularly known among the Spanish music repertoire. It is thought to be of Sephardic origin and it has been known in the province of Soria since the 19th century. The content of it mentioned a popular character who was known to be a bit outlandish, and it was sung with a mocking spirit. Later on, it turned into a choir song and, as it happens with music that is transmitted orally, its lyrics varied from one place to another, giving rise to different versions. From all of them, Federico García Lorca wrote his well-known poem  that has been adapted by musicians of various styles.

How did it evolve?

This division would start to change with the development of the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th century. The mechanization of the production processes caused a reduction in the price of musical instruments.

This produced a progressive approach of the music to the homes of the population, where songs were interpreted- mostly anonymous- with simple lyrics and minimal instruments.

Celia Pavey – Scarborough Fair (2013)

This is the version of a traditional British song of unknown authorship. The song, very popular in the 20th century, is one of those popular hits that were interpreted as a family hobby.

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With the Industrial Revolution, a large sector of the population which had been mainly rural and engaged in agricultura, settled around the cities and adopted a new lifestyle. The first industrial areas appeared in Great Britain at the end of the 18th century, spreading to Belgium, the Netherlands and France in the early 19th century. It was also in the middle of that century when they emerged in Germany and the United States, and in Japan from the year 1868. By the end of the 19th century, they would arise in Russia, Italy, and Spain.