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Rationalism and Its Impact on Music

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1 Rationalism and Its Impact on Music

2 “Baroque” Used to identify period in art and music history before 1600 to about 1750 Originally a pejorative word — overornamented, distorted, grotesque — used by critics from later periods does not apply to all arts of that period — e.g., French academic dramatists Pierre Corneille (1606–1684) and Jean Racine (1639–1699), painter Jan Vermeer (1632–1675) certainly does not reflect artists’ ideas in the period music includes a variety of styles over long period

3 Rationalist principles
Reason supersedes received authority from church or ancients Francis Bacon (1561–1626) — clearing away errors in thinking René Descartes (1596–1650) Discourse on Method (1637) — principles of rationalism The Passions of the Soul (1649) — important for aesthetics Aesthetic presuppositions Humanism — to portray the idea, “imitate” the “sense” of words Gioseffe Zarlino, Istitutione armoniche (1558) Thomas Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597) Rationalism — to move the audience, imitate rhetorical speech pathos rather than ethos; affetto rather than virtù Vincenzo Galilei, Dialogo della musica antica e della moderna (1581)

4 Historical factors in the seventeenth century
Courts — important for arts major powers France, absolutism under Bourbons in Paris Hapsburg empire — centered in Austria principalities in Germany (electors for Holy Roman Empire) and Italy constitutional monarchy in England Civil War, 1642 Commonwealth, 1649 Stuart Restoration, 1660 Church — important for the arts Roman Catholicism — Jesuitism Lutheranism (Orthodox Lutheran and Pietist branches) Church of England

5 Important commercial cities in the seventeenth century
Venice — port (Adriatic) Hamburg — port (North Sea) Leipzig — center for publishing London — capital and trade center

6 Monody and basso continuo
Camerata — amateurs in Florence interested in Classical antiquity Giovanni de’ Bardi (1543–1612) — host, nobleman, writer (Discourse on ancient and modern singing, ca. 1578) Girolamo Mei (1519–1594) — scholar in Greek literature; lived in Rome, letters to Florence Vincenzo Galilei (late 1520s to 1591) — lutenist and singer, theorist (Dialogo della musica antica e della moderna, 1581) objection to polyphonic song on principle monodic texture based on Mei’s information about Greek drama rhetoric as model for moving affections

7 Monodic texture — homophony
Vocal part declamation influenced by existing formulas for singing strophic poems, Camerata’s theories ornamentation (derived from Renaissance improvisation in polyphony) Bass treatment Renaissance basso seguente — essentially lowest line basso continuo from ca. 1590s real, independent part as polar opposite of melody, freeing vocal bass addition of figures — practical, but optional Giulio Caccini (ca. 1545–1618) — singer and composer Le nuove musiche (1602) — explained and illustrated new style

8 Caccini, Le nuove musiche (1601)

9 Concertato scoring New ideal — exploit heterogeneous performers
from Latin concertare — to contend or fight unlike humanist ideal of homogeneous, a cappella sound Usages of term sixteenth century — colla parte (e.g., Cristoforo Malvezzi, 1589, reports that a madrigal was “concertato” with instruments) 1587 — Gabrieli collection — first use in title polychoral, voices and instruments 1602 — Lodovico Grossi da Viadana, Cento concerti ecclesiastici one or more singers with organ basso continuo 1610 — Monteverdi, 1615 Giovanni Gabrieli voices and instruments, independent, idiomatic roles

10 Seconda pratica harmony
Sixteenth-century harmonic style — panconsonance theorist — Zarlino, Istitutione harmoniche (1558) Mannerism — chromaticism and cross-relations e.g., Carlo Gesualdo (ca. 1561–1613) Seconda pratica new dissonances permitted — including accented passing tones and neighboring tones, appoggiaturas, escape tones G. M. Artusi (ca. 1540–1613) — attacked dissonances in new style with score (no text) examples from madrigals by Monteverdi, 1600 Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) — reply in Foreword prefacing Madrigals, Book 5 (1605), amplified by Dichiarazione in Scherzi musicale (1607) by his brother Giulio Cesare Monteverdi (1573 to ca. 1630), justifying unusual harmony as rhetorical expression of text’s affect

11 Questions for discussion
How does the change from Humanist to Rationalist aesthetics and musical style compare to the change at the beginning of Humanism? How are rational and passionate aspects of musical experience kept in balance or synthesized in seventeenth-century musical thought and style? Compare basso continuo texture to earlier textures in Western music.

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