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Baroque Instrumental Music. This is the first time that we see instrumental music sharing the same stature as vocal music. For the first time, there was a clear separation of Vocal and Instrumental music. Baroque Instrumental Practice.

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Baroque Instrumental Music

  • This is the first time that we see instrumental music sharing the same stature as vocal music.

  • For the first time, there was a clear separation of Vocal and Instrumental music

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Baroque Instrumental Practice

  • There were no ‘classics’, so contemporary composers were very prolific

  • Modulations and chromatic harmonies and melodies.

  • Virtuosity (music that shows off the technical skills of the performer)

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Baroque Instrumental Evolution

  • Early Baroque Instrumental music uplifted musical line rather than blend. Late Baroque music will focus more on the idea of blend and refined orchestration.

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Keyboard Music

  • Equal tempered tuning

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Keyboard Instruments

  • Three main instruments

    • Organ: sacred venues and some home chapels

      • Tracker Action

      • Great, positive, and portative organ

    • Harpsichord: basso continuo for orchestra and dance music. Solo instrument. Strings plucked by a Plectrum.

    • Clavichord: strings struck by hammers made originally from bone. Precursor to the piano.

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Harpsichord, ca. 1675Made by Michele TodiniRome, Italy

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Improvisatory style




Existing melody

Chorale prelude

Theme & Variations

Fugal style






Types of Instrumental Music

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  • From Italian verb toccare (to touch)

  • A work with very fast monophonic melodies with chromatic harmonies;

  • Free, irregular metres and rhythms;

  • Often improvised on the organ

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The Chorale Prelude

  • Originally, an introduction to a hymn (chorale); Bach was the preeminent composer of Chorale Preludes

  • Later written down as a composition (a single variation on a chorale)

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The Baroque Suite

  • Instrumental dance music from the Renaissance period now refined in a new style of sound and compositional technique.

  • Pastiche of different international styles of dance forms.

  • First function was dancing at social functions.

  • Other functions: dinner music.

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Order of the Dance Suite

Overture (Optional)Allemande Germany 4/4 time Moderate Courante French 3/4 time Moderate Sarabande Spain 3/4 time Slow Other Dances (Optional)Minuet Gavotte BourreeGigue England 6/8 time Fast

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the founder of the French harspichord school

not the first, but the first with “celebrity”

Jacques Champion Chambonnieres (1601-1672)

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Jacques Champion de Chambonnières (c.1601-1672)

  • influenced Couperin and Rameau

  • Chambonnieres, D’Anglebert, and de la Guerre were important early clavecinists

    “clavecin” is French for “harpsichord”

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He was known as Couperin le Grand" (Couperin the Great) to distinguish him from the other members of his musically talented family.

François Couperin 1668-1733

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L’art de toucherle clavecin

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  • Instrument building families

    • Stradivarius, Guarneri, and Amati

  • Strings

    • Cat gut

    • Slightly different playing technique….bowing

  • Woodwinds: mellow sound as opposed to a more brassy sound in modern times.

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  • Brass

    • Originally a military instrument for signals

    • Without valves

    • Key changes made by inserting longer or shorter crooks in the horn.

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The Sonata

  • Evolved from the Renaissance canzona, which had several contrasting sections

  • Early in the 17th century, “sonata” referred to any piece for instruments

  • Later, “sonata” meant a piece for 1 or 2 melody instruments with basso continuo

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The Sonata

  • Chamber Sonata:Sonata da Camera

    • A group of dances.

    • Number of movements vary

  • Church Sonata:Sonata da Chiesa

    • Serious collection of pieces

    • Containing polyphonic/contrapuntal texture.

    • Often 4 movements SFSF

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The Baroque Sonata Form

  • Four Movements

    • SLOW

    • FAST

    • SLOW

    • FAST

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The Sonata

  • Trio Sonata: sonata for any combination of two instruments and basso continuo. (which means 4 players)

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Archangelo Corelli (1653-1713)

  • Studied in Bologna-center of violin playing in Northern Italy.

  • Worked in Rome under the patronage of several wealthy benefactors.

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The Concerto

  • A three movement piece (FSF) music that is created from two masses or bodies of sound.

  • Concertare– to contend with or to compete with.

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The Two Masses of Sound

  • Concertino: small group.

  • Tutti or ripieno: large group (orchestra)

    tutti (all) ripieno (full)

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Three types of concerto

  • Solo concerto: A concerto featuring a soloist contending with an orchestra.

  • Concerto Grosso: A concerto featuring a small group contending with a larger group.

  • Concerto ripieno: A concerto in which all take part; no long solos

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  • Several contrasting movements

    • 1st movement uses ritornello form

  • Contrast between performing groups is VIMP


  • Orchestra (aka tutti)

    • 15-25 strings + harpsichord

    • louder dynamics

    • simpler music

  • Soloist(s)

    • 1 to 5 players

    • may feature woodwinds, brass

    • softer dynamics

    • technical, virtuosic

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Movement 1fast, energetic, ritornello form

Ritornello form a way of arranging musical ideas (melodies?) in a piece

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Ritornello Form

Ritornello sections

played by tutti

recurring theme or part of it

Solo sections

played by soloist(s)

new material

Contrast between sections is VIMPRitornello provides unity “musical glue”





R1S1R2S2R3S3R4S4 etc RX