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Introduction The high value placed on individuality and personal expression in the romantic era grew even more pronounced in the 20th century This was partly the result of several features of 20th-century life More people from more social and geographic backgrounds than ever before were able to study music and develop their aptitude for composition An enormous range of tastes and skills thus became a feature of modern composition Radios and recordings brought music from once-remote countries in South America and the Far East to the attention of musicians in all parts of the world The speed of modern communications made it possible for listeners to evaluate innovations more quickly than ever before The result of these features is that today originality is more highly valued than in any previous era and that diversity and rapid change have become the most prominent general features of music The characteristics of the early 20th century era can be split into different categories Impressionism in music In musical terms composers realized that they need no longer be subject to the tyranny of traditional tonality-a system which had lasted for 400 years One of the pioneers of the music of the future was the Frenchman Claude Debussy whose fluid structures built out of the repetition of tiny motifs with colouristic instrumental effects were likened to impressionist techniques in painting Little of Debussys mature music could be said to be in a key instead its gravitational centre constantly shifts as a result of his use of chromatic harmony Neoclassicism Neoclassicism which developed in the 1920s is a comprehensive style involving more than harmonic features It marked a return to the classic concept that all elements in a composition should contribute to the clarity of the overall structure of form Neoclassicism includes the use of a modified sense of tonality usually enlivened with a large amount of chromaticism and the use of formal schemes from the baroque and
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