We have come to place music into two broad categories; that of New Music and that of Traditional Music. Music ahead of the turn of the century originates to be thought of as the original. This Traditional Music gets lumped together of what most people refer to as Classical. This classification is indeed well fixed in people’s minds that even traditional rock music is referred to as Classic Rock.
The so named Classical Music is absolutely about three different periods which were all different in their practice. Having said that, there are some differences in the music after the turn of the century that are distinctive enough to warrant the label of recent Music.
Prior to the turn of the century, all music was ‘goal oriented’ or ‘tonal,’ meaning that there was one chord from the particular composition that was the goal or resting point of the music’s chord progression. After this chord was reached, the songs sounded finished and the music would not sound finished until this chord was reached. Hence this chord would show-up in the very end of the music and also at the ends of all phrases or melodies, pretty much. It would not be the same chord for each and every piece of music but would depend on the ‘key’ of the music. This is the meaning of ‘key.’ If the piece of music is within the ‘key of C,’ then a chord it must end on is C. A piece in the ‘key of G’ would end on G and so on.
Well. after a 100 years or so, composers got the itch to attempt something new and so find the first examples of the modern Music. Claude Debussy has often been called the ‘Father of Modern Music,’ with his fantastic works began to make tonality ambiguous by utilizing other types of scales for example the Whole Tone Scale.
Some composers went beyond this and tossed out tonality altogether. The most notable example of it was the Serial Music composed by Arnold Schoenberg. Serial Music used a scale of twelve tones (instead of the traditional eight) and studiously avoided any note/chord relationship. Some other composers like John Cage created that which was called ‘Chance Music,’ the location where the notes in the piece were driven by the throw of dice.
Meanwhile, with this same time, jazz was being made. Jazz and Blues returned to tonality having a vengeance. However there are many other elements added that qualified this as New Music. The difference in instrumentation, together with the electric guitar and the greatly expanded role of the drums were certainly stuff that had not gone on before so the birth of jazz and it is development into the pop today certainly fits into the category of New Music.