2What is baroque?Derived from the Portuguese barroco, or “oddly shaped pearl,” the term “baroque” has been widely used since the nineteenth century to describe the period in Western European art music from about 1600 to “Baroque” is now simply a convenient catch-all for one of the richest and most diverse periods in music history.
3When was the baroque period? In addition to producing the earliest European music familiar to most of us, including Pachelbel’s Canon in D and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, the baroque era also greatly expanded our horizons. The acceptance of Copernicus’s 16th century theory that the planets didn’t revolve around the earth made the universe a much larger place, while Galileo’s work helped us get better acquainted with the cosmos. Advances in technology such as the invention of the telescope made what was believed to be finite seem infinite. Great thinkers like Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza and Locke tackled the big questions of existence. Geniuses like Rubens, Rembrandt and Shakespeare offered unique perspectives through their art. European nations grew more and more involved with foreign trade and colonization, bringing us into direct contact with parts of the globe that were previously unfamiliar. And the growth of a new middle class breathed life into an artistic culture long dependent on the whims of church and court.
4Who were the major baroque composers and where were they from? Many of the well known composers from the first part of the baroque period hail from Italy, including Monteverdi, Corelli and Vivaldi. (By the mid eighteenth century, our focus shifts to the German composers Bach and Handel.) Many of the forms identified with baroque music originated in Italy, including the cantata, concerto, sonata, oratorio and opera.While certain countries may seem to claim a larger piece of our experience of baroque music today, however, every nation played a role. As musicians and composers travelled all over Europe and heard each other’s music, the new conventions they encountered made subtle impressions on them.
5Well-known composers.Italy: Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, Corelli, Vivaldi, Domenico and Alessandro ScarlattiFrance: Couperin, Lully, Charpentier and RameauGermany: Praetorius, Schein, Scheidt, Schutz, Telemann, Handel and BachEngland: Purcell
6What is the philosophy of baroque music? A belief in music as a potent tool of communication.One of the major philosophical currents in baroque music comes from the Renaissance interest in ideas from ancient Greece and Rome. The Greeks and Romans believed that music was a powerful tool of communication and could arouse any emotion in its listeners. As a result of the revival of these ideas, composers became increasingly aware of music’s potential power, and cultivated the belief that their own compositions could have similar effects if they correctly emulated ancient music.
7Patronage - the position, encouragement, influence, or support of a patron, as toward an artist, institution, etc.In modern times, artists frequently earn a living producing exactly the kind of art they are moved to create. Throughout much of the baroque era, however, composers only earned a living writing music if they were fortunate enough to be on the payroll of a political or religious institution. The musical needs of that institution, therefore, dictated the music the composer produced. Bach wrote the number of cantatas he did, for example, not necessarily because he found the form inspirational, but because of the liturgical demands of the Leipzig church that employed him. When viewed in this light, baroque music can provide a fascinating window into history.
8Characteristics of Baroque Music Basso Continuo (figured bass), doctrine of affections, string importance, major/minor key system, different forms.
9Basso Continuo (Figured Bass) Figured Bass is a sort of musical shorthand that provides a framework for playing the bass line of the piece. The bass parts were usually played by the string bass along with either the harpsichord or the organ, which also played an improvised chord part. While most of the orchestra played parts that were written out note-by-note, the basso continuo was simply sketched out in a Figured Bass notation.
10One MoodThis is called the Doctrine of Affections. Composers in the Baroque period attempted to communicate pure emotion in their music. There was nothing autobiographical in their compositions, meaning that a composer never tried to write a “happy” song because he was happy that day. Rather, they were trying to write music that perfectly expressed the range of human emotions.
11StringsPreviously music had been dominated by the voice. Motets and madrigals used strings as accompaniment but not as a solo instrument. Baroque composers began giving greater attention to the violin, viola, cello and string bass and wrote many pieces that brought these instruments to the forefront of the orchestra.
12Major/minor Key System Music before the baroque period was written in modes that did not allow for changes from one mode to another. If a song started in Mode 1, it ended in Mode 1 with no possible way to shift to Mode 2. With the invention of the Major and Minor key system, it became possible for composers to modulate from one key to another related key.
13Forms – Binary, Fugue, etc. Baroque music was a time of experimentation and expansion. Composers began writing pieces in many forms, most of which followed some kind of fast-slow-fast format. Binary music was two forms, fast and slow. Fugues were complex and complicated variations on a single melody that build organically from that single melody into rich and varied musical tapestries.
14Types of Music Vocal - Opera, Oratorio, cantata Instrumental – sonata, concerto, suite
15OperaA drama that is primarily sung, accompanied by instruments, and presented on stage. Operas typically alternate between recitative, speech-like song that advances the plot, and arias, songs in which characters express feelings at particular points in the action. Choruses and dances are also frequently included. The advent of the genre at the turn of the seventeenth century is often associated with the activities of a group of poets, musicians and scholars in Florence known today as the Florentine Camerata. The earliest opera still performed today is Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607). The subjects of the first operas are all taken from Greek myth, reflecting the genre’s close alliances with attempts to recreate the music and drama of ancient cultures, and were performed solely in aristocratic circles for invited guests.Examples of Baroque OperaPurcell Dido and AeneasMonteverdi L'OrfeoRameau Hippolyte et AricieHandel Giulio Cesare in Egitto
16Oratorio Opera Oratorio An oratorio is a large musical composition for orchestra, choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias.The word Oratorio originally meant prayer hall, which was a place for religious experiences other than liturgy.The text is based on religious subject matter. Much like opera it can tell a story, however this is not acted out on stage.Examples of OratorioHandel – MessiahHandel – Judas MaccabeusOpera– Theatrical vocal and instrumental music. – Often telling stories from Greek and Roman mythology.Oratorio– Vocal and instrumental music performed in a normal concert setting. - Religious
17CantataMain difference is that a cantata is a stand alone piece of vocal music, not associated with a greater work, such as an opera.Sacred or SecularBach
18SonataUsed to describe several types of pieces in the baroque era, the term sonata most commonly designated a work in several movements for one or more instruments (most frequently violins) and basso continuo (harpsichord).Sonatas continue to be popular in other periods.Sonatas usually are ensemble pieces where the instruments share the same importance, all getting a chance to play the main melodic line. At times they can also be solo pieces.Corelli – Sonata de Chiesa (Church)Corelli – Sonata de Camera (Chamber)Vivaldi – Sonata for Harp and Bassoon
19ConcertoMulti-movement work for instrumental soloist (or group of soloists) and orchestra.Vivaldi was the most prolific composer of concertos.Concertos later evolved to be mostly for soloist and orchestra/piano.Vivaldi – WinterBach – Brandenburg Concerto
20SuiteA series of dances in the same key, most or all of them in two-part form.For solo or orchestra – not together.Basic set up – Prelude (Overature, Fantasia), Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, (Minuet, Bourree, or Gavotte), and GigueBach – Cello Suite 1Handel – Water Music