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  • 7/31/2019 03 Baroque Music




  • 7/31/2019 03 Baroque Music


    What is Baroque


    Baroque music isusually defined as

    music from a particular

    era in European

    history: approximatelyfrom 1600 to around


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    What is Baroque


    Mood: Affectations (to

    impress the mind or movethe feelings of human

    emotions, emotional

    response). The philosophy

    of the era is that it

    represents the affections ofreal life and in doing so,

    excites the listeners

    emotions. Music must move

    the listener.

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    Characteristics of Baroque Music

    1. Unity of Mood Composers of Baroque

    music generally wrote material that suited a

    certain mood, and that mood dominated theentire piece. If a piece started out happy, it

    would continue to be happy till the end; if a

    piece started out sad, it would continue to be

    sad throughout. Sometimes, if the mood didchange, it was usually drastic, and the

    prevailing mood would last a long time before

    the mood switched.

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    2. Prominent Rhythm This was the vehicle

    through which the unity of mood that Baroque

    composers strove for was conveyed. Therhythmic pattern at the start of a piece was

    usually reiterated at given points throughout the

    piece of music. The beat constantly drove the

    piece forward, rarely letting up. Also, comparedto later Classical and Romantic pieces, the beat

    was far more distinct in Baroque music.

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    3. Continued and Ornamented Melody In order

    to create that unity of mood the Baroque

    composers strove for, the melody of Baroquemusic was intended to create a feeling of

    continuity. An opening melody will be heard over

    and over again in a piece, though with several

    variations. Baroque melodies are also well-

    known for being highly-ornamented, complex,

    and elaborate, even by contemporary




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    4. Terraced Dynamics Since the Baroque

    composers favored a continuity of mood, mood

    shifts within a musical piece did not occurfrequently. If they did, the initial prevailing mood

    would stay for some time, before shifting to

    another one. Usually, this shift is sudden, like

    taking a physical step. Like melodicornamentation, terraced dynamics is considered

    one of the key characteristics of Baroque music.



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    5. Polyphonic Texture Baroque music,

    especially in the later period, was

    predominantly polyphonic in texture,meaning that there were usually two or more

    melodic lines competing for the listeners

    attention. A melodic line that happens in onevoice will usually happen in other voices as

    well, resulting in a very rich and varied

    texture. This, of course, was not strictly

    followed by all composers.



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    6. Basso Continuo and Figure Bass This is

    not something one would hear in a piece,

    but has mostly to do with musical notation:

    these are little numbers at the bottom of a

    stave, and indicate the chords that the basso

    continuo must play. Usually the bassocontinuo in any piece is played by the cello

    and harpsichord.



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    7. Virtuoso Performances Given the technical

    difficulty of many Baroque compositions, it was

    no surprise that only talented performers could

    play or sing them, and as a result, virtuoso, or

    extremely talented, performers and

    performances became one of the key features

    of Baroque music. Even today, many Baroquepieces are so difficult that to play them is an

    accomplishment for the performer.



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    8. Improvisation Despite the existence of written

    scores, and the prevalence of their use, the

    Baroque period also encouraged improvisation of

    the material. More often than not, performers would

    change certain sections of a piece to suit their mood

    or the mood of an audience. It is not known what

    the composers themselves thought of such

    improvisation, but given the prevalence of the

    practice they might not have considered it an

    offense to their work.



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    Genres of Baroque Music

    Opera Developed in the late Renaissance, the

    opera as a genre flourished immensely during the

    Baroque period, with many renowned composerscreating their own operas.

    Oratorio While similar to opera in that it involves

    an orchestra and vocalists, the oratorio wasstrictly for concert performances only, and was

    not staged in the same way that an opera was

    though some oratorios were staged as well.

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    Religious music The Mass and motet, which werevery popular during the Renaissance, lost some oftheir popularity during the Baroque period. In themeantime, the cantata was immensely popular with

    Bach, and amongst composers with Protestantinclinations.

    Instrumental music and dance suites Compared tothe emphasis on religious music in periods past,secular music swiftly rose in popularity, with manycomposers creating pieces to be danced, or simplyfor the pleasure and/or instruction of the playerand/or listeners.


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    Concerto Defined as a three-part solo work withone solo instrument accompanied by anorchestra, it became one of the most popular

    instrumental pieces during the Baroque; in fact,what is understood today as a concerto wasdeveloped during the Baroque period.

    Keyboard works Almost every wealthy homehad a harpsichord or some sort of keyboardinstrument, and as a result many compositionswere written to be played on or accompanied by a



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    us c was e ma n source o vers on n e

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    us c was e ma n source o vers on n ecourts of the aristocracy

    Music director supervised performances and

    composed most of the required music including

    operas, church music, dinner music, and piecesfor court concertsand the upkeep of the


    Good & bad features: Pay and prestige were

    highand anything the composer wrote would beperformedbut no matter how great the

    composer washe was still a servant who

    could neither quit or take a trip without the

    patrons permission.

    Musicians had to curry favor with the

    aristocracylike everyone else in society.

    The art was handed down from father to son and

    they had to pass a difficult examination, perform,

    and submit compositions as an audition for a



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    Antonio Vivaldi Nicknamed

    The Red Priest, he was a

    Venetian priest, and Baroquecomposer. He was also famous

    for being a virtuoso violinist. His

    most famous composition, The

    Four Seasons(a series for fourviolin concerti) is consideredone of the most challenging

    violin pieces to perform.

    Famous Baroque Composers and their


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    Famous...The Four Seasons Vivaldis The

    Four Seasons (Le quattro stagioni

    in Italian) is actually a set of four

    violin concerti, each written around

    four sonnets, corresponding to the

    four seasons of the year. While the

    entire set is considered one of the

    most popular and most enduring

    examples of Baroque music (not to

    mention one of the most

    challenging to perform), certain

    movements have also been

    frequently referenced in popularculture, such as the first Allegro

    movement ofSpring, and the third

    Presto movement ofSummer.

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    Johann Sebastian Bach He was

    a German composer and organist

    whose works are said to have

    brought Baroque music to its full

    maturity. His style makes frequent

    use of the contrapuntal technique,

    thus creating a rich, robust sound

    that tends to be unique to hiscompositions, though he was

    considered old-fashioned even

    by his contemporaries at the time.

    He is most famous for his organ

    and sacred music, being anorganist himself, but he also

    composed vocal, instrumental,

    and secular pieces as well.


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    Toccata and Fugue in D MinorThis is a piece of organ music

    composed by Johann Sebastian

    Bach, and is easily one of the

    most recognizable pieces of

    classical music ever. Its popular

    culture associations are mostly

    linked to Halloween and horror

    movies, due to the eerie,

    thunderous feel of the piece.

    Although it is traditionally meant to

    be played on organ, many other

    arrangements have allowed this

    piece to be played on, not only

    keyboard instruments, but

    stringed and wind instruments as



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    Brandenburg Concertos

    These are a collection of six

    instrumental works composedand presented by Bach to

    Christian Ludwig, Margrave of

    Brandenburg-Schwedt. These

    six instrumental pieces are

    widely considered to be thesome of the finest Bach ever

    produced, and among the best

    Baroque compositions ever.

    The third concerto in the set isalso an easily recognizable

    piece, even by those who are

    not entirely familiar with

    classical music.


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    George Frideric Handel

    Another German

    composer, his name and

    Bachs are the two mostassociated with the

    Baroque period, since it is

    their compositions that

    have defined Baroquemusic as it is understood

    today. Whereas Bach was

    most known for organ

    music, Handel was mostknown for his vocal and

    large-scale music, such as

    his operas, oratorios, and

    concerto grossi (concertiwith more than one soloist .


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    Messiah One of Handelsmost famous works, it is also

    one of the most easily-

    recognizable pieces for those

    who are not familiar with

    classical music. While the

    entirety of the oratorio is not

    always well-known, it is the

    Hallelujah chorus that willalways be familiar to

    listeners regardless of their

    experience with classical

    music. The Hallelujah has

    been used frequently inpopular culture, ranging from

    movies to television shows to



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    Giuseppe Tartini A late-

    Baroque composer born

    in what is now Slovenia(though at the time

    considered a part of the

    Republic of Venice), he

    was most known for hisvirtuoso violin playing

    and his violin concerti.

    While not as famous as

    Vivaldi, Tartini is alsoknown for having been a

    talented musician and



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    Devils Trill Sonata More formallyknown as the Violin Sonata in GMinor, it earned its more sinistername from a legend told about

    where Tartini got the idea to write it.

    Supposedly, the Devil appeared to

    Tartini in a dream, asking Tartini to

    teach him how to play the violin. At

    the end of their lessons, Tartini gave

    the Devil a violin, and the Devil

    started to play a piece of such

    virtuosity that Tartini was utterly

    stunned. When he woke, Tartini

    attempted to capture the piece as a

    composition. The sonata is also

    known for its extreme technical

    difficulty; even by todays standards,

    it is considered one of the most

    difficult solo violin pieces to play.