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The Baroque Era Study Guide – 1600 – 1750
Context
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The Baroque Era spans roughly the years 1600-1750
Time of turbulent change in politics, science, arts
Time of religious wars and exploration of the New World
Rise of middle-class culture
Music-making centered in the home, church, and universities
University groups called collegium musicum
Monody: new style featuring solo song with instrumental accompaniment
Monody was promoted by the Florentine Camerata:
Group of writers and musicians who sought to resurrect musical-dramatic art of ancient Greece
Members of the Camerata included - Vincenzo Galilei, Guilio Caccini, Jacopo Peri
Monody focused on text and its emotional power
They called this new style Le nuove musiche:
The expressive style of the new music led directly to the invention of opera
More professional women were singers and instrumentalists
In general, the Baroque enjoyed free interchange among cultures
Additionally, there was a trend towards exoticism
Near East, the Americas, and elsewhere were sources for ideas
Baroque Music
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Basic harmonies were understood and not fully notated
Figured bass: shorthand notation for harmony
Chords created through improvisation
Basso continuo: bass part, performed by 2 instruments - Chordal instrument (lute, keyboard, etc.) and bass
instrument
Major-minor tonality system is established
Equal temperament: a tuning system that allows instruments to play in all keys is developed
J. S. Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier (2 vols.), each containing 24 preludes and fugues, demonstrates the
12 major and minor keys
Early Baroque rhythm is freer
Late Baroque rhythm is regular and vigorous
Emotions expressed with subtle and dramatic dynamic changes
The Doctrine of Affections was an entire piece or movement was built on a single affection (emotion)
Near East, the Americas, and elsewhere were sources for ideas
Instrument builders improved and refined instruments
Composers challenged the performers with music that was demanding
Rise of virtuosity was both instrumental and vocal
Castrato: a male singer who was castrated in boyhood to retain soprano or alto vocal range
Countertenor or falsettist: "natural" high male voice
Performers improvised beyond what was written in the music score
Instrumental music gained position of importance in the Baroque
Virtuosos raised the technique of playing to new heights
Early-Baroque composers did not specify instrumentation
Late-Baroque composers chose instruments according to timbre
Instrument designs were improved
Finest violins in history came from shops of Stradivarius, Guarneri, Amati
Baroque violin strings made of gut (today's are of steel)
Woodwinds were all made of wood
Trumpet moves from purely military use to orchestral member
Horns and trumpets were valveless, called "natural" instruments - Could play in only one key at a time
Timpani occasionally added to the orchestra
Baroque keyboard instruments, Organ: used at church and home, Harpsichord: strings are plucked by quills,
cannot sustain tones, Clavichord: metal levers exert pressure on strings
Authentic modern performances - Modern recordings reflect an attempt towards authenticity with the use of
historically accurate instruments
Vocal Music - Opera
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Opera is a large-scale sung drama - Combines music with poetry, drama, acting, pantomime, scenery and
costumes
Recitative: musical declamation, plot is advanced, Secco: accompanied only by continuo instruments,
Accompagnato: accompanied by the orchestra
Aria: a song, usually highly emotional, stands out from recitative - Da capo aria: a ternary (A-B-A) song form
Ensemble numbers: characters join together in song, Duet: two voices, Trio: three voices, Quartet, etc.: four
voices, and so on
Chorus: used to back up solo voices, or functions independently
Overture: instrumental number begins the opera, Sinfonias: instrumental interludes between acts and scenes
Libretto: the text of the work, Librettist: the person who writes the text
Vocal Music – Cantata
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Italian "to sing"
Vocal genre for solo singers and instrumental accompaniment
Based on lyric, dramatic, or narrative poetry, Lyric: expresses personal emotion Dramatic: written for
performance in a play, Narrative: tells a story
Sacred Cantata - One or more solo vocalists, Instrumental accompaniment, Chorus, Sacred theme, For use in
the Lutheran church service, Unified by a chorale
Lutheran Chorale: hymn tune associated with German Protestantism - Battle hymns of the Reformation
Martin Luther inaugurated church services in German rather than in Latin
Early hymns were sung in unison
Later hymns were written in 4-part harmony, with melody in the soprano
Chorales are a unifying thread of the Protestant cantatas
Vocal Music – Oratorio
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Large-scale dramatic genre with religious or biblical text
Performed by solo voices, chorus, orchestra
No staging or costumes
Instrumental Music – Sonata
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The sonata was the most popular form of chamber music
Early sonatas: one sectional movement or several contrasting movements
o Sonata da camera: chamber sonata
o typically a group of stylized dances
Sonata da chiesa: church sonata, more serious and contrapuntal,
o four movements, tempo sequence slow-fast-slow-fast
o Written for 1-8 instruments
o Favored combination: two violins and continuo
o Trio sonata - music printed on three staves of music, actually performed by four players (continuo
requires two players)
Instrumental Music – Concerto
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Form reflects the basic elements of Baroque: contrast and unity
Concerto: from the Latin concertare ("to contend with")
o Instrumental form based on the opposition of different forces
Two types of concerto
o Solo concerto: one instrument set against the orchestra
o Concerto grosso: small group of soloists set against orchestra
o Concertino: small group in the concerto grosso
o Ripieno, or tutti: large group in the concerto grosso
Instrumental Music – Baroque Suite
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A suite is a group of international dance types typically in the same key
Standard dances in a suite:
o Allemande: German dance, quadruple meter, moderate tempo
o Courante: French dance in triple meter at moderate tempo
o Sarabande: stately Spanish dance in triple meter
o Gigue (jig): English dance in a lively 6/8 or 6/4
o Other optional dances: minuet, gavotte, bourrée, passepied, etc.
Form is usually AABB or ABA
Repeated sections in binary form were ornamented when played for second time
Instrumental Music – Other Forms
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Passacaglia: theme is presented in ground bass while the other elements are varied
Chaconne: harmonic progression is repeated while other elements are varied
Canon: a piece based entirely on imitation
Overtures:
o French: slow-fast pattern with the second part being fugal (fugato)
o Italian: three short simple sections: in fast, slow, fast tempos
Keyboard Forms Based on harmony with strong element of improvisation
o Prelude, toccata: short introductory piece based on improvisation
o Chorale prelude: embellished chorale tune, introductory
Chorale prelude - Stricter forms based on counterpoint (fugue)
Fugue and devices
o Name is derived from Latin word for "flight"
o The fugue is based on the principle of imitation
o Melodic lines are called voices (instrumental or vocal)
o Fugal structure Exposition:
• Subject (main theme) is stated alone in one voice (tonic)
• Next a second voice imitates the theme with the answer (dominant)
• The first voice continues with the countersubject
• The subject is stated in a third voice (depending on the number of voices)
• A fourth voice follows with another statement of the answer
• Exposition ends when all the voices have presented the theme
Episodes
• Relaxed interludes between complex statements of the exposition
o Contrapuntal devices
Stating a melody in longer time values: augmentation
Stating a melody in shorter time values: diminution
Retrograde: stating the pitches backwards (starting from the last and going to the first)
Turning the melodic intervals upside down: inversion
Retrograde inversion: original melody is played upside down and backwards
Use of stretto (different voices present theme in close succession) in common
The Rococo Period
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Rococo: From the French rocaille, "a shell"
o A reaction against grandiose Baroque style
Premiere composer of French Rococo: François Couperin (1668-1733)
Rococo is considered a precursor to Age of Enlightenment
o Characterized by the desire to systematize all knowledge
o Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1784) Treatise on Harmony (1722)
In Germany, the style of Empfindsamkeit ("sentimental" style) was predominant
o Style reached apex in mid-18th century with the sons of Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp
Emanuel, Johann Christoph, Johann Christian, and their contemporaries
Sonata, concerto and symphonic styles expanded - Pre-Classical period (c. 1725-75)
New form: Classical multi-movement cycle was developed
Composers
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Monteverdi – Italian Opera
Henry Purcell – English Opera
Handel – Late Baroque Opera, Oratorio, Orchestral Suite
Strozzi – Italian Cantata
Bach – Lutheran Chorale, Concerto, Fugues
Corelli – Trio Sonata
Scarlatti – Solo Sonata
Vivaldi – Concerto
Mouret – Orchestral Suite
John Gay – Beggars Opera England
Gluck – Opera Reform