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Baroque
1600-1750
An Increase in Complexity

In the Renaissance, the Madrigal
was the most complex type of
composition.

Composers begin to feel that there is
a better way to represent emotion
with music.
Recitative

Recitative is half music and half
recitation.
****This was the start of opera****
Homophony

Homophony is one melody of interest
that is supported by chords.
(remember that polyphony is more
than one melody at the same time.
Chords are not considered to be
melodic in nature)



In Venice, homophony became all
the rage. Choirs would be broken up
into smaller groups to sing the
homophony parts.
This turned into a game of tug-of-war
where would group would sing and
the next group would answer.
Because of the new freedoms being
taken by composers, new systems
and guidelines had to be created
about composing music.
Giovanni Gabrieli
(1555-1612)

Gabrieli was an organist at the St.
Mark’s Cathedral.

Gabrieli would place different choir
sections in different lofts/areas of the
church. This gave the effect of
surround sound. (Baroque style)
O Magnum mysterium




2nd part of a motet written for
Christmas.
About the Ox and the Donkey who
were considered the first to see
Jesus.
Uses the Sequence form from the
Middle Ages.
Uses two choirs.
“O Magnum Mysterium”
Latin text
English translation
O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent
Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the
new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose
womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia.
Alleluia!
Rhythm and Meter



Rhythm and meter become more
defined.
Usually a single rhythm can be heard
through an entire piece.
Bar lines are now used to group
notes on the staff into measures
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)





Wrote “The Four Seasons”
Italian (nicknamed “Red Priest”)
because of his red hair
Music Teacher at an orphanage for
girls
Toured a lot
Wrote over 400 concertos
Basso continuo



This helps to clarify what the
harmony is.
A single bass line used to reinforce
bass voices
Usually played by Harpsichord or
bassoon. Can also be played by
cello and other instruments.
Ground bass



Ground bass is also known as basso
ostinato
Ground bass is music constructed
from the bottom up.
The bass will play the same short
figure over and over while other
upper instruments add in above it
with different melodies based on the
bass.
Major and minor system



Because of the advances being done
in the Baroque era, the Major and
minor system and helped to solidify
harmony. Music begins to sounds
closer to what we know today.
Composers develop what they call
“functional harmony.” Each chord
has a purpose.
No more wandering music.
Johann Sebastian Bach




(1685-1750)
Music was a family business
Had 20 children
-7 with 1st wife (his 2nd cousin)
-13 with 2nd wife (singer)
All children taught music
Wrote 200 sacred and secular
cantatas (was not appreciated while
alive)
Musical Handwriting was considered
the most beautiful and intricate of
any composer
Bach cont.



Bach’s mother died when he was 9 and
father when he was 10
Sent to live with older brother who sent
him to a choir school for poor people.
Got time off from his first job to walk 200
miles to Lubeck to hear an organist. Once
there he was offered a job as long as he
married the daughter of guy who was
retiring. (she was ten years older than
Bach) He turned it down…
George Frideric Handel (1685-1754)




Father was a barber discourage
musical training. Wanted him to be a
lawyer
Wrote 40 Italian Operas
Made and lost several fortunes
Court Musician
Opera




Opera is drama presented in music
Early opera was put on for Royal
Weddings and such.
1637 the first Public Opera Theater
opens (these are equivalent to
modern day movie theaters)
By the end of the century there were
seven in Venice alone.
Opera had two major parts
Recitative: Singing that imitates
speech. It is mostly used for plot
action, dialogue, and important
situations.
Aria: Extended solo that has more
musical elaboration and coherence.
The vocal part is more melodic, the
rhythm is more consistent, and
accompaniment usually uses the
entire orchestra.
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)





First great composer of the Baroque era to
be attacked for being too radical.
Called “the last great madrigalist and the
first great opera composer”
Wrote his first opera; Orfeo (1607) while
working at St. Mark’s.
Orfeo is considered the first masterpiece
of Opera.
Monteverdi became the choirmaster at St.
Mark’s which was considered the most
prestigious musical position in Europe.

Monteverdi also wrote many other
Operas. Only few have survived but
towards the end of his life he wrote,
The Coronation of Poppea (1642)
which is still performed in Opera
houses today.
Henry Purcell (1659-1695)


Purcell is the most famous English
composer of the time period. He
was an Organist at Westminster
Abbey. He wrote sacred
instrumental and theater music.
Purcell wrote Dido and Aeneas
(1689)
Instrumental Music
The Baroque period is the first time
that instrumental music stands alone
without depending on words.
Instrumental music came from three
sources: Dance, Virtuosity, and
Vocal.
Dance Music



Opera and Ballet were linked
together
At this time France was the center of
ballett.
French musicians took the dances
from these operas and ballets and
grouped them into collections called
suites.
Virtuosity



Before the Baroque period, music of
the music played by virtuosos was
not written down.
In the Baroque period, people began
to write it down.
There are many subtleties that are
not included and the performer
needs to know how to interpret it.
Vocal



Composers used the techniques
used in vocal music such as
polyphony and imitation.
The fugue although already in use is
considered a characteristic of the
Baroque period.
Vocal music also lent the idea of
theme and variations to instrumental
music.
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643)



Organist in St. Peter’s in Rome
Maine source of instrumental music
in the early Baroque era. (evan Bach
studied his music)
Frescobaldi composed in a few
different genres such as Toccatas,
Canzonas, Stylized Dances, and
Sets of Variations.
Baroque Styles



Toccata: Free-formed pieces (tocatta
means “touched” in Italian as in
touching the keys)
Canzona: more rigorously organized
emphasizing imitation
Stylized Dances: formed with two
phrases with one or both of them
being repeated. AAB or AABB.
These are sometimes grouped
together in suites.
More Baroque Styles



Sets of Variations: based on
melodies and harmonic patterns
borrowed from vocal music.
Passacaglia: a set of variations on a
short theme in the bass
Chromaticism: unexpected half steps
added to music. Chromaticisms
create dissonance in music.
Late Baroque (1700-1750)
Most of the music from the Baroque
period that is still heard today is from
this period.
Composers from this period include:
Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Vivaldi,
Couperin, Rameau, Telemann.
King Louis XIV was the greatest supporter of
arts in Europe (as long as the artisits
celebrated his greatness) Monarchs in
other countries strived to match his
influence.
Groups were called upon to play at many
venues
Horns: Ceremonial Hunts
Trumpets: Battles
Orchestras: Balls and entertainment
Chamber groups: table
music/background
Special “Celebratory” groups were used to
Composing



There are twenty-four possible Major and
minor scales. The baroque era is the first
time all of them were available to
composers due to advances in the
construction of instruments.
Composers also began to use melodies or
rhythms to represent specific emotions.
Three places composers could make a
living: The Church, The Court (working for
Nobility), and now the Opera House.
Baroque Elements



Rhythm: very regular and steady. Often
well defined and played by harpsichord.
Begin to see a “walking bass” The
harmony also begins to change at a
regular interval.
Dynamics: composers did not mark their
scores with dynamics. Players would
interpret these for themselves. If
dynamics were used they would be abrupt
(from piano to forte).
Tone Color: instruments were grouped
together to get a new balance of tone that
was not present before. Instruments such
as the harpsichord and viola da gamba
were new to this time period.
More Baroque elements



Melody: melodies became more
ornate and extravagant. More notes
were used, a greater range was
covered, and they were longer
Ornamentation: instrumentalists and
singer both would improvise melodic
“extras.”
Texture: most baroque pieces are
polyphonic