Thursday, August 21, 2008

What is a "serenade"?

A serenade is a piece of music intended to honor a specific person. Though there exists a variety of different types of serenade, the most modern and common notion of the serenade (or the concept of serenading someone) is based on the earliest of all its forms. It's simpler than the majority of serenade styles; just a piece of music played for someone in their presence. During the Medieval era, this performance was usually done underneath the intended's window, which is where the modern pop-culture reference comes from. This type of serenade is all over television and movies; heart-struck men camp out with a guitar underneath their beloved's window, waiting to play the song they so desperately toiled over. And in some cases this serenade notion has taken an extremely modern twist; in the movie "Say Anything," John Cusack's character serenades his loved one by playing a Peter Gabriel song on a large, hi-tech (at least for the time) boom-box. The rules of serenade tradition might be gone, but the general idea is still there.

But aside from that commonly referenced style, the serenade is also a sort of music in its own right. This type of serenade, popularized by Italian and Austrian composers, is a multi-movement piece of music intended for a symphony orchestra. It's less rigid than many symphonic compositions of the time, reflecting a light playfulness very indicative of love and happiness. And also unlike the symphony, this type of serenade is solely dependent on sounds and the mood created by those sounds as opposed to subject exposition and recapitulation. This type of serenade is found most frequently within the Romantic and Classical eras of composition, though it's carried over (and evolved) to modern classical compositions in the form.

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