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The Baroque
Learning Objectives
By the end of this presentation you should be able to:
• Place the Baroque period in a historical
• Describe the different musical vocal forms
from the Baroque period and their features.
• Identify various Baroque vocal concepts
through listening examples.
Baroque music takes
its name from a very
florid and decorated
style of architecture
and art of the 17th
In music the term is
used to describe the
period from around
1600 to 1750.
Musicians came to use
the word “Baroque” to
describe the period of
musical history from
the birth of opera and
oratorio to the death of
J.S. Bach.
The Baroque period
saw the invention of
several new forms
including opera,
oratorio, fugue, the
suite, sonata and
During the Baroque
period the system of
modes began to
disappear. Composers
were regularly
flattening or
sharpening notes and
from this the major
and minor scales that
we are accustomed to
Baroque Composers
Vivaldi, Bach and Handel
Baroque Instruments
• The violin family replaced the viols.
• The string family dominated this period
• The harpsichord was also a prominent
• The orchestra began to take shape with a
large string section but other sections not
yet standardised.
Violin Family vs. Viol Family
The Harpsichord
An ornament
decorates a melody by
adding extra notes.
Ornaments are often
short and add melodic
and rhythmic interest.
Trill: Rapid and repeated movement between two
adjacent notes.
Mordent: An ornament that sounds the main note, the note
above and then the note again.
• Acciaccatura: An ornament which sounds like
a crushed note played very quickly on the beat
or just before it. (A grace note)
Appoggiatura: An ornament which sounds like a leaning
note. It takes half the value of the main note that follows it.
An appoggiatura is usually dissonant which resolves onto a
weaker beat.
Turn: An ornament starts on the notes above the
written note, then goes to the written note itself,
then to the notes below and finally back to the
written note.
Exam Style Question
• Name the type of ornament played by the
flutes in this excerpt.
Exam Style Question
• Name the ornament heard in the right hand
Forms and Instrumental Music
Learning Objectives
this section of the presentation will:
• To introduce the various forms of
instrumental music during the baroque
• Enable you to identify various forms of
instrumental music.
• Revise Int.1 and 2 form concepts.
Binary Form
• The music is made up of
two different sections
labelled A and B. Each
section may be repeated.
This was one of the
earliest forms and is
present in all kinds of folk
dance music.
• Listen to the following
example and try to
identify where the A and
B sections are.
Ternary Form
• A B A a form where
the first section is
always repeated at the
end. A da capo aria is
in this form.
Rondo Form
• A B A C A. A form
where the first section
(A) comes back
between contrasting
Basso Continuo
Sometimes referred to as
continuo. In the Baroque
period, the continuo part
consisted of a bass line
(basso continuo) played
by cello or bassoon. In
addition the harpsichord,
organ or lute player was
expected to fill in
harmonies built on that
bass line.
This example is a solo recorder
accompanied by a continuo.
The Concerto
The concerto, as a
style, first appeared in
the latter part of the
Baroque period.
There were two styles
• concerto grosso
• solo concertos.
Solo Concerto
• Concerto: Work for solo
instrument and
orchestra,e.g. a flute
concerto is written for
flute and orchestra it is
normally in three
movements.This audio
example is by one of
Bach’s sons. (It is from
the classical period)
• Mvt 1 Allegro di molto
• Mvt.2 Andante
• Mvt.3 Allegro
Concerto Grosso
Antiphonal: one
group answers the
This form is said to have its roots in many of the antiphonal works of
composers such as Gabrielli earlier in the Renaissance period.
Concerto Grosso: a type of concerto in which a
group of soloists (concertino) is combined and
contrasted with a larger group (ripieno).
This example is by J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto
Little return. In a
Concerto grosso, the
ritornello is the main
theme played by the
Ripieno group (the
orchestra) and sometimes
by Concertino (the
soloists). The ritornello
may return frequently
throughout the movement,
similar to a Rondo.
• Tierce de Picardi: The final chord of a
piece of music in the minor key is changed
to major.
• Anacrusis: A melody which starts before
the first beat of the bar. An upbeat
• Imitation: Where the melody is
immediately copied higher or lower in
another part.
Listen to the following excerpt and
identify three concepts present:
• Solo concerto
• Ritornello
• Concerto grosso
• Binary
• Continuo
• Suite
• Ternary
• Concertino
Listen to the following excerpt and
identify three concepts present:
• Solo concerto
• Ritornello
• Concerto grosso
• Binary
• Continuo
• Suite
• Ternary
• Concertino
Binary (N5)
Ternary (N5)
Concerto (N5)
Imitation (N4)
Anacrusis (N5)
Rondo (N5)
Tierce di Picardi (H)
Antiphonal (AH)
Ritornello (H)
Concerto grosso (H)
Ripieno (H)
Concertino (H)
Basso continuo (H)
Baroque Music
This piece is one of the most famous of all Canons by
Strict imitation and
sometimes called
a round. After one
part starts to play or
sing a melody, another
part enters shortly
afterwards with
exactly the same
A contrapuntal (polyphonic) piece based on a
theme (subject) announced in one voice part
alone, then imitated by other voices in close
In other words: a fugue starts with a melody, other parts come
in one at a time with this melody, and they interweave amongst
each other.
Fugue cont.
You will find a fugue in all kinds of music
from masses to organ music here are a few
• A fugue on an organ:
• A fugue played by a string orchestra:
• A fugue sung by a choir ( In this example
try to identify the order the SATB parts
come in):
Fugue Concepts
• Subject: The main
melodic theme.
• Countersubject: Once
the subject has played out
the next voice comes in
with the subject again, the
original voice then goes
on to play a second
melody, this is the counter
Fugue Concepts
• Answer: After the subject
has played the same tune
appears in another voice a
5th or 4th lower, this is the
answer.There are two
different types of answer
tonal or real.
• Exposition: first section
of a Fugue where each
voice has played or sung
at least one entry of
subject or answer.
• Real Answer: If the
• Tonal Answer: If the
intervals of the answer
intervals of the answer
are exactly the same as
are not exactly the
the subject then the
same as the subject,
answer is said to be
the answer is said to
be tonal.
Fugue Concepts
Inversion: When a musical shape is mirrored.
In a fugue this could be a subject that is turned
upside down.
Fugue Concepts
Stretto: When each part enters quicker than before.
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Voice 1
Voice 2
Voice 3
Voice 4
Free part Free part
Counter - Free part
So you want to write a fugue.
You got the urge to write a fugue.
You got the nerve to write a fugue.
So go ahead, so go ahead and write a fugue.
Go ahead and write a fugue that we can sing.
Pay no heed, Pay no mind.
Pay no heed to what we tell you,
Pay no mind to what we tell you.
Cast away all that you were told
And the theory that you read.
As we said come and write one,
Oh do come and write one,
Write a fugue that we can sing.
Now the only way to write one
Is to plunge right in and write one.
Just forget the rules and write one,
Just ignore the rules and try.
And the fun of it will get you.
And the joy of it will fetch you.
Its a pleasure that is bound to satisfy.
When you decide that John Sebastian
must have been a very personable guy.
Never be clever
for the sake of being clever,
for the sake of showing off.
For a canon in inversion is a dangerous
And a bit of augmentation is a serious
While a stretto diminution is an obvious
For to try to write a fugue that we can sing.
And when you finish writing it
I think you will find a great joy in it.
or so...
Nothing ventured, nothing gained they
But still it is rather hard to start.
Well let us try right now.
Now we are going to write a fugue.
We are going to write a good one.
We are going to write a fugue ... right
Canon (N4)
Fugue (AH)
Subject (AH)
Countersubject (AH)
Exposition (H)
Inversion (AH)
Stretto (AH)
Answer (AH)
Tonal answer
Real answer
Opera and Related Concepts
During the Baroque period Opera developed.
• Opera: A drama set to
music with soloists,
chorus, acting, and
orchestral accompaniment.
It is normally performed
in a theatre. Opera
consists of arias,
recitatives and choruses. It
uses sets and costumes.
• Aria: a song sung usually
by a soloist or a duet.
Often in ABA form.
• Recitative:A type of vocal
writing where the music
follows the rhythm of
speech. It is used to move
the story or plot on.
• Chorus: music written for
a group of singers.
Opera Company Advert
• Usually a story from
the bible set to music
for soloists, chorus
and orchestra. It may
include recitatives,
arias, duets and
chorus. It is performed
without acting or stage
• What is the difference
between an oratorio
and an opera?
• Can you tell the
difference through a
listening example?
Recitatives, Arias and Choruses
Listen to the following examples and decide which one
of the three you can hear.
(Don’t get confused with chorus!)
• Choral: German hymn
tune. Written in four
parts for soprano, alto,
tenor and bass, some
of these chorales were
used by Bach in his
oratorios and cantatas.
Usually homophonic
in texture.
Chorale or not Choral?
Baroque Mass
• The mass in the
baroque period had
grown in size in many
ways. It became a
large work with solos,
duets and choruses.
The orchestra was also
A Baroque Mass
(What part of the Mass is this from ?)
Obbligato and Other Vocal
• Obbligato: A prominent solo instrument
part in a piece of vocal music.
• Don’t forget these concepts that are also
connected with vocal music: syllabic,
melisma, homophonic, unison,
polyphonic, strophic and throughcomposed.
Da capo aria
An aria in Ternary form
(ABA) used in opera and
oratorio in the 17th and
18th centuries. The third
section is not written out
but the instruction Da
capo (from the beginning)
is given instead. The
repeat of the A section
was performed with the
solo ornamented. The
excerpt is an aria in ABA
Da capo aria
• Listen to “Where’re
You Walk” by Handel.
This is an aria from
the opera Semele.
Notice where the D.C.
and Fine signs are.
Ground Bass
• A theme in the bass
which is repeated
many times while the
upper parts are varied.
• Term for high, florid
vocal singing
involving scales, runs
and ornaments.
Sometimes these
passages were written
down, but often were
extemporised by the
Listen to the following excerpt and
identify three concepts present:
Listen to the following excerpt and
identify three concepts present:
Ground Bass
A capella
Listen to the following excerpt and
identify three concepts present.
• Obbligato
• Chorus
• Ground bass
• Aria
• Melisma
• Unison
• Recitative
• Modal
Listen to the following excerpt and
identify three concepts present.
• Obbligato
• Chorus
• Ground bass
• Imitation
• Polyphony
• Coloratura
• Recitative
• Chorale
1/ When was the Baroque period?
2/ Name one famous Baroque composer
3/ Which family of instruments dominated
baroque music?
4/ Name the instrument playing.
5/ Name three forms of music that both an
opera and an oratorio would contain.
Revision cont.
6/ In your own words describe a Passion.
7/ In your own words describe a Cantata.
8/ Which concept is a German hymn tune
written in four parts usually homophonic.
9/ Which concept describes a melodic bass
line which is repeated.
10/ Which concept describes high, florid
vocal singing.