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Baroque. 1600-1750. An Increase in Complexity. In the Renaissance, the Madrigal was the most complex type of composition. Composers begin to feel that there is a better way to represent emotion with music. Recitative. Recitative is half music and half recitation.

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an increase in complexity
An Increase in Complexity
  • In the Renaissance, the Madrigal was the most complex type of composition.
  • Composers begin to feel that there is a better way to represent emotion with music.
  • Recitative is half music and half recitation.

****This was the start of opera****

  • Homophony is one melody of interest that is supported by chords.(remember that polyphony is more than one melody at the same time. Chords are not considered to be melodic in nature)
In Venice, homophony became all the rage. Choirs would be broken up into smaller groups to sing the homophony parts.
  • This turned into a game of tug-of-war where would group would sing and the next group would answer.
  • Because of the new freedoms being taken by composers, new systems and guidelines had to be created about composing music.
giovanni gabrieli 1555 1612
Giovanni Gabrieli (1555-1612)
  • Gabrieli was an organist at the St. Mark’s Cathedral.
  • Gabrieli would place different choir sections in different lofts/areas of the church. This gave the effect of surround sound. (Baroque style)
o magnum mysterium
O Magnum mysterium
  • 2nd part of a motet written for Christmas.
  • About the Ox and the Donkey who were considered the first to see Jesus.
  • Uses the Sequence form from the Middle Ages.
  • Uses two choirs.
rhythm and meter
Rhythm and Meter
  • Rhythm and meter become more defined.
  • Usually a single rhythm can be heard through an entire piece.
  • Bar lines are now used to group notes on the staff into measures
antonio vivaldi 1678 1741
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
  • Wrote “The Four Seasons”
  • Italian (nicknamed “Red Priest”) because of his red hair
  • Music Teacher at an orphanage for girls
  • Toured a lot
  • Wrote over 400 concertos
basso continuo
Basso continuo
  • This helps to clarify what the harmony is.
  • A single bass line used to reinforce bass voices
  • Usually played by Harpsichord or bassoon. Can also be played by cello and other instruments.
ground bass
Ground bass
  • Ground bass is also known as basso ostinato
  • Ground bass is music constructed from the bottom up.
  • The bass will play the same short figure over and over while other upper instruments add in above it with different melodies based on the bass.
major and minor system
Major and minor system
  • Because of the advances being done in the Baroque era, the Major and minor system and helped to solidify harmony. Music begins to sounds closer to what we know today.
  • Composers develop what they call “functional harmony.” Each chord has a purpose.
  • No more wandering music.
johann sebastian bach 1685 1750
Johann Sebastian Bach(1685-1750)
  • Music was a family business
  • Had 20 children -7 with 1st wife (his 2nd cousin) -13 with 2nd wife (singer) All children taught music
  • Wrote 200 sacred and secular cantatas (was not appreciated while alive)
  • Musical Handwriting was considered the most beautiful and intricate of any composer
bach cont
Bach cont.
  • Bach’s mother died when he was 9 and father when he was 10
  • Sent to live with older brother who sent him to a choir school for poor people.
  • Got time off from his first job to walk 200 miles to Lubeck to hear an organist. Once there he was offered a job as long as he married the daughter of guy who was retiring. (she was ten years older than Bach) He turned it down…
george frideric handel 1685 1754
George Frideric Handel (1685-1754)
  • Father was a barber discourage musical training. Wanted him to be a lawyer
  • Wrote 40 Italian Operas
  • Made and lost several fortunes
  • Court Musician
  • Opera is drama presented in music
  • Early opera was put on for Royal Weddings and such.
  • 1637 the first Public Opera Theater opens (these are equivalent to modern day movie theaters)
  • By the end of the century there were seven in Venice alone.
Opera had two major parts

Recitative: Singing that imitates speech. It is mostly used for plot action, dialogue, and important situations.

Aria: Extended solo that has more musical elaboration and coherence. The vocal part is more melodic, the rhythm is more consistent, and accompaniment usually uses the entire orchestra.

claudio monteverdi 1567 1643
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
  • First great composer of the Baroque era to be attacked for being too radical.
  • Called “the last great madrigalist and the first great opera composer”
  • Wrote his first opera; Orfeo (1607) while working at St. Mark’s.
  • Orfeo is considered the first masterpiece of Opera.
  • Monteverdi became the choirmaster at St. Mark’s which was considered the most prestigious musical position in Europe.
Monteverdi also wrote many other Operas. Only few have survived but towards the end of his life he wrote, The Coronation of Poppea (1642) which is still performed in Opera houses today.
henry purcell 1659 1695
Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
  • Purcell is the most famous English composer of the time period. He was an Organist at Westminster Abbey. He wrote sacred instrumental and theater music.
  • Purcell wrote Dido and Aeneas (1689)
instrumental music
Instrumental Music

The Baroque period is the first time that instrumental music stands alone without depending on words. Instrumental music came from three sources: Dance, Virtuosity, and Vocal.

dance music
Dance Music
  • Opera and Ballet were linked together
  • At this time France was the center of ballett.
  • French musicians took the dances from these operas and ballets and grouped them into collections called suites.
  • Before the Baroque period, music of the music played by virtuosos was not written down.
  • In the Baroque period, people began to write it down.
  • There are many subtleties that are not included and the performer needs to know how to interpret it.
  • Composers used the techniques used in vocal music such as polyphony and imitation.
  • The fugue although already in use is considered a characteristic of the Baroque period.
  • Vocal music also lent the idea of theme and variations to instrumental music.
girolamo frescobaldi 1583 1643
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643)
  • Organist in St. Peter’s in Rome
  • Maine source of instrumental music in the early Baroque era. (evan Bach studied his music)
  • Frescobaldi composed in a few different genres such as Toccatas, Canzonas, Stylized Dances, and Sets of Variations.
baroque styles
Baroque Styles
  • Toccata: Free-formed pieces (tocatta means “touched” in Italian as in touching the keys)
  • Canzona: more rigorously organized emphasizing imitation
  • Stylized Dances: formed with two phrases with one or both of them being repeated. AAB or AABB. These are sometimes grouped together in suites.
more baroque styles
More Baroque Styles
  • Sets of Variations: based on melodies and harmonic patterns borrowed from vocal music.
  • Passacaglia: a set of variations on a short theme in the bass
  • Chromaticism: unexpected half steps added to music. Chromaticisms create dissonance in music.
late baroque 1700 1750
Late Baroque (1700-1750)

Most of the music from the Baroque period that is still heard today is from this period.

Composers from this period include: Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Couperin, Rameau, Telemann.

King Louis XIV was the greatest supporter of arts in Europe (as long as the artisits celebrated his greatness) Monarchs in other countries strived to match his influence.

Groups were called upon to play at many venues

Horns: Ceremonial Hunts Trumpets: Battles Orchestras: Balls and entertainment Chamber groups: table music/background

Special “Celebratory” groups were used to pay homage to Kings and Princes

  • There are twenty-four possible Major and minor scales. The baroque era is the first time all of them were available to composers due to advances in the construction of instruments.
  • Composers also began to use melodies or rhythms to represent specific emotions.
  • Three places composers could make a living: The Church, The Court (working for Nobility), and now the Opera House.
baroque elements
Baroque Elements
  • Rhythm: very regular and steady. Often well defined and played by harpsichord. Begin to see a “walking bass” The harmony also begins to change at a regular interval.
  • Dynamics: composers did not mark their scores with dynamics. Players would interpret these for themselves. If dynamics were used they would be abrupt (from piano to forte).
  • Tone Color: instruments were grouped together to get a new balance of tone that was not present before. Instruments such as the harpsichord and viola da gamba were new to this time period.
more baroque elements
More Baroque elements
  • Melody: melodies became more ornate and extravagant. More notes were used, a greater range was covered, and they were longer
  • Ornamentation: instrumentalists and singer both would improvise melodic “extras.”
  • Texture: most baroque pieces are polyphonic