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Bell Ringer
Each verse of Bach’s “Komm, Süsser
Tod,” is 21 measures long. The time
signature is 3/4.
Assuming the tempo is 48 beats per
minute (48 quarter notes per minute),
how long would a performance of all 5
verses take?
The Baroque Period
The Baroque Period
• The word Baroque means “elaborately
• Heavily religious artistic style due to the Council
of Trent (church pushback against Protestant
• Middle class was beginning to emerge, causing
a need for individual enjoyment of music.
• Galileo, Newton, Shakespeare, Rembrandt
Important Worldly Events
• 1607- Jamestown Founded
• 1611- King James Bible published
• 1610- Galileo confirms a heliocentric solar
• 1687- Newton publishes “Principia
Music in the Baroque Period
• Unity of mood throughout a piece
• Very repetitive rhythmic motifs
• Sequence- successive repetition of a musical idea in
different pitches
• Terraced Dynamics- alternating between loud and soft
in a piece
• Patronage system- composers were employed by a
court or church full-time
• The Harpsichord!! Composers LOVED writing for the
harpsichord. It was the electric guitar of its day.
Music in Society
• Musicians needed patrons, and therefore had to
find favor with aristocracy.
• Many rulers valued music and sought to develop
their musical skills.
• Large towns employed their own musicians
• Many times the art of composition was passed
down in families (like blacksmithing or carpentry)
The Baroque Orchestra
• Mostly consisted of a small group of strings.
• Other instruments in small numbers:
Recorders and woodwinds
Brass instruments (no valves)
Harpsichord (basso continuo – “continuous bass”)
Baroque Forms
• Many Baroque works are actually a collection of
pieces, or movements, that contrast.
• A movement is a piece that sounds fairly
complete and independent but is part of a larger
composition. (Sort of like different CD tracks on
an album)
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, Mvt. I
• One in a set of 6 Concertos written around 1721
• Opens with the tutti, then alternates with solo
• Listen for the familiar “tutti” section alternating
with softer solo sections.
The Fugue
• The fugue was a cornerstone of Baroque
• Polyphonic composition based on one
main theme, called a subject.
• Listen to a fugue by following the familiar subject through
all the levels of texture.
• Beginning of a fugue can be diagrammed like this:
Subject----------------------------..... Etc
Subject--------------------------------.... Etc
Subject--------------------------------------.... Etc
Subject-----------------------------------------... Etc.
• After a voice finishes presenting the subject, it is free to
do its own thing.
Bach: Organ Fugue in G Minor “Little Fugue”
• One of Bach’s most
well-known pieces
• The subject is
presented by four
“voices” in
succession, from
highest to lowest.
The Elements of Opera
• Opera is a drama that is sung with
orchestral accompaniment.
• Characters and plot are revealed in song
rather than in dialogue.
• Libretto- text of an opera
• Opera consists of one to five acts divided
into scenes
Opera in the Baroque Era
• Opera saw its beginnings in the Baroque era.
• Early operas drew their plots from Greek
• Opera in the Baroque era saw the rise of
virtuoso singers.
Monteverdi: L’Orfeo
• Monteverdi was a pioneer of opera
• Wanted to create emotional intensity
through his music
• First opera told the Greek myth of
• Listening: Tu se’ morta (You are Dead) from
L’Orfeo Act II (Recitative)
Henry Purcell
• Purcell is often considered the greatest of
English composers.
• Ground Bass- when a musical idea is repeated
over and over in the bass
• Dido and Aeneas is a simple, yet masterful
opera written in 1689.
• Listening: Dida and Aeneas Act III: Dido’s
Lament (featuring a ground bass)