Part IV: Baroque Period (1600-1750)
Timeline
 Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600)
 Cervante, Don Quixote (1605)
 Galileo, earth orbits suns (1610)
 King James Bible (1611)
 Witchcraft trials in Salem, Mass. (1692)
 Defoe, Robinson Cruse (1719)
 Swift, Gulliver’s travels (1726)
The Baroque Style
 Time of flamboyant lifestyle
 Baroque style “fills the space”
 Visual Art
o Implies motion
o Busy
 Architecture
o Elaborate
 Changes in approach to science
o Experiment-based, not just observation
o Inventions and improvements result
Baroque Music
 Two giants of Baroque composition
o J.S. Bach (period ends with Bach’s death)
o Handel
 Other noted composers
o Claudio Monteverdi
o Henry Purcell
o Corelli
o Vivaldi
 Period divided into three phases
o Early (1600-1640)-favored homophonic texture
o Middle (1640-1680)-interweaving of major and minor scales
o Late (1680-1750)-extensive use of dominant to tonic
 Unity of mood
o Expresses one mood throughout piece
o Rhythm
 Rhythmic patterns are repeated thoughout
 Provides compelling drive and energy
o Melody
 Opening melody heard again and again
 Continuous expanding of melodic sequence
o Dynamics
 Terraced dynamics - Volumes are constant with abrupt (sudden) changes
o Texture
 Mostly polyphonic
 Extensive use of imitation
o Chords & the Basso Continuo
 Chords meshed with the melody line
 Bass part served as foundation of the harmony
 Basso Continuo – accompaniment played by keyboard instrument (harpsichord) following numbers which specify the chord
• Figured Bass (numbers)
o Words and Music
 Text painting/word painting continues
 Words frequently emphasized setting a single syllable to many rapid notes
• Melisma (run)
 The Baroque Orchestra
o based on violin family of instruments
o small by modern standard
o varying instrumentation
 strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion
o Nucleus was basso continuo unit
o Composers specified instrumentation
 Tone color was subordinate to melody, rhythm, and harmony
• Instruments meant to highlight music line, composers weren’t concerned with the beauty of the timbre
 Composers obtained beautiful effects from specific tone colors
 Baroque Forms
o Instrumental music frequently made up of movements
 Movement: a piece that sounds complete in itself, but is part of a larger compostition
o Performed with pause between movements
o Unity of mood within individual movements
o Movements often contrast with each other
o Common Basic Forms
 Ternary – ABA (probably the most commonly used in the era)
 Binary – AB ABB AAB AABB





 Music in Baroque Society
o Music written to order
 People were paying for new music
 New style of music, not old-fashioned, was desired
o Courts
 Music indicated wealth
 If a person had a lot of music/musicians in their court, that meant they could afford it.
o Court Music Director
 Good prestige, good pay, and other benefits
 Still considered a skilled servant
o Some aristocrats were musicians
o Church music was very elaborate
 Most people heard music only in church
o Some, though few, public opera houses
o Music careers taught by apprenticeship
 Orphanages taught music as a trade
 Concerto Grosso
o For small groups of soloist and orchestra
o Multi-movement work
o Usually 3 movements
 Fast
 Slow (usually quieter)
 Fast (sometimes dancelike)
 Ritornello Form
o The form frequently used in the first and last movement of a concerto grosso
o Theme (ritornello) played by tutti (full orchestra)
 Presented in entirety then repeated in fragments until end.
o Contrast between solo sections and ritornello
 Tutti and soloists alternate back and forth throughout
 The Fugue
o Cornerstone of baroque music
o Polyphonic composition based on 1 main theme
o Vocal or instrumental (sometimes both)
o Subject – what the mean theme is called
 Presented initially in imitation
• Each voice enters after previous voice has computed presenting the subject
• Similar to a round



 The Elements of Opera
o Drama sung to orchestral accompaniement
o Text in opera is called libretto
 Music is written by composers
 Libretto is written by a librettist (words)
o Opera can be serious, comic, or both
o 2 primary types of solo songs
 Recitative: presents plot material
 Aria: used to expresses emotion, usually a showcase vehicle for the singer
o Other types: duet, trio, quartet, quintet, etc.
 3 or more singers make up an ensemble
• Chorus: groups of actors (singers) playing part of the crowd
o Prelude or overture: instrumentals that opens opera acts
 Opera in the Baroque era
o Result of musical discussion of the camerata in Florence