"Instrumentalist" redirects here. For the philosophical position on science, see Instrumentalism.
"Music artist" redirects here. For the occupation, see Music artist (occupation).
Guy Pratt, a professional session musician, playing bass guitar.

A musician (or instrumentalist) is a person who plays a musical instrument or is musically talented.[1] Anyone who composes, conducts, or performs music may also be referred to as a musician.[2]

Musicians can specialize in any musical style, and some musicians play in a variety of different styles. Examples of a musician's possible skills include performing, conducting, singing, composing, arranging, and the orchestration of music.[3]

Medieval musicians

"A chantar m'er de so qu'eu no volria"
Written by Beatritz de Dia.

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Further information: Medieval music

In the Middle Ages, instrumental musicians performed with soft ensembles inside and loud instruments outdoors. Many European musicians of this time catered to the Roman Catholic Church, providing arrangements structured around Gregorian chant structure and Masses from church texts.[4]

Notable musicians

Renaissance musicians

Written by Claudio Monteverdi.

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Further information: Renaissance music

Renaissance musicians produced music that could be played during masses in churches and important chapels. Vocal pieces were in Latin—the language of church texts of the time—and typically were Church-polyphonic or "made up of several simultaneous melodies." By the end of the 16th century, however, patronage split among many areas: the Catholic Church, Protestant churches, royal courts, wealthy amateurs, and music printing—all provided income sources for composers.[5]

Notable musicians

Baroque musicians

"Hallelujah Chorus"
from George Frideric Handel's The Messiah.

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Further information: Baroque music

The Baroque period (about 1600 to 1750) introduced heavy use of counterpoint and basso continuo characteristics. Vocal and instrumental “color” became more important compared to the Renaissance style of music, and emphasized much of the volume, texture and pace of each piece.[6]

Notable musicians

Classical musicians

"Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor"
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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Further information: Classical music

Classical music was created by musicians who lived during a time of a rising middle class. Many middle-class inhabitants of France at the time lived under long-time absolute monarchies. Because of this, much of the music was performed in environments that were more constrained compared to the flourishing times of the Renaissance and Baroque eras.[7]

Notable musicians

Romantic musicians

"Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major- Andante con moto"
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven.

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Further information: Romantic music

The foundation of Romantic period music coincides with what is often called the age of revolutions, an age of upheavals in political, economic, social, and military traditions. This age included the initial transformations of the Industrial Revolution. A revolutionary energy was also at the core of Romanticism, which quite consciously set out to transform not only the theory and practice of poetry and art, but the common perception of the world. Some major Romantic Period precepts survive, and still affect modern culture.[8]

Notable musicians

20th century

"3 Pieces for Clarinet Alone"
Composed by Igor Stravinsky, who also arranged The Rite of Spring

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Further information: 20th-century music

The world transitioned from 19th-century Romanticism to 20th century Modernism, bringing major musical changes. In 20th-century music, composers and musicians rejected the emotion-dominated Romantic period, and strove to represent the world the way they perceived it. Musicians wrote to be "...objective, while objects existed on their own terms. While past eras concentrated on spirituality, this new period placed emphasis on physicality and things that were concrete."[9]

The advent of audio recording and mass media in the 20th century caused a boom of all kinds of music—popular music, rock music, electronic music, folk music and all forms of classical music.[10]

See also


  1. "Musician". Oxford Dictionary.
  2. "Musician". MacMillan Dictionary.
  3. "Types of Musicians". About
  4. "IB Music Technology II Study Guide" (PDF). IBO- International Bacccalaureate International.
  5. "Music in the Renaissance". The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  6. "The Baroque Era". Oracle Education Foundation.
  7. "Unit IV 1750–1914". West Forsyth HS History.
  8. "Romanticism". Brooklyn College.
  9. "The 20th Century". Fine Arts Society Radio.
  10. Blanning, Tim "The Triumph of Music; The Rise of Composers, Musicians and Their Art" Harvard University Press 2008, ISBN 9780674057098
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