Music of the Baroque Era If It Ainâ€™t Baroque Donâ€™t Fix It! Music of the Baroque Era A....
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If It Ain’t Baroque Don’t Fix It!: Music of the Baroque Era
The Baroque Era ● 1600-1750; ended with J.S. Bach’s death ● The English settled Jamestown in 1607 ● In 1610, Galileo confirms the Earth is round and revolves around
the sun ● An apple falls from a tree, it knocks some sense into Isaac
Newton, and he publishes the Laws of Universal Gravitation in 1697.
● In 1692 there were trials. Which trials, you ask? The Salem Witch Trials.
The term “baroque” comes from the French word for an irregularly shaped pearl.
The artwork of the time was considered odd, irregular, and very ornate.
The style of Art and Architecture was ornate and decadent.
Louis XIV was the monarch of France from 1638-1715
This is a depiction of Louis XIV as the Greek god Apollo
This is his Palace of Versailles
The Hall of Mirrors
Louis XIV’s Bedroom
● Rembrandt ● Caravaggio ● Rubens
Baroque Literature ● Shakespeare (Hamlet, etc.) ● Cervantes (Don Quijote) ● Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) ● Milton (Paradise Lost)
Characteristics of Baroque Music ● Rhythm either flowed like the music of the Renaissance, or it is
more free ● There is now a focus on instrumental music or instrumental
accompaniment to voices. ● Chords are emphasized as part of the accompaniment (harmony),
in addition to a bassline known as the basso continuo ● The basso continuo usually consisted of two instruments:
○ a keyboard instrument played the chords and the bassline ○ another low-sounding instrument to reinforce the
bassline, like a cello or bassoon
Major Music Formats of the Baroque Era
Vocal Music Opera Oratorio Cantata Mass
Instrumental Music Chamber Music Concerto Grosso
Opera ● sung theatrical work, with
staging and acting
● usually based on a secular story, often from antiquity
● orchestral accompaniment
● vocal soloists and choruses
● elaborate costumes and sets
● example: Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas
Oratorio ● sung theatrical work, but no
staging, acting, costumes or sets
● usually based on a religious story
● orchestral accompaniment
● vocal soloists and choruses (more choruses than Opera)
● example: Handel’s Messiah
Cantata ● similar to an oratorio,
narrates a story but unstaged
● shorter than an oratorio, designed to be part of a church service
● example: J.S. Bach’s Wachet Auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers Wake)
Recitative vs. Aria ● A vocal line in an opera,
oratorio, or cantata that imitates the rhythm and pitch fluctuations of speech
● It communicates the plot and advances the story.
● It often leads into an aria.
● A melodic song in an opera, oratorio, or cantata for solo voice with orchestral accompaniment.
● It communicates the emotions and inner thoughts of the character.
Some instruments of the Baroque Era...
The Keyboard Family
The Modern String Family
The major instrument building families, like the Stradivari of Cremora, Italy, came into prominence during the Baroque.
The wind family hand many new innovations like keys on the woodwinds. Brass instruments still do not have valves.
The two main formats of instrumental music are chamber music and the concerto grosso.
Chamber Music ● Chamber Music uses a small
group of musicians ● There is one player to a part ● It can be as small as one
person playing a solo instrument
● Chamber Music is meant to be performed in a small venue, a chamber, like in someone’s house.
● Example: Archangelo Corelli’ s Trio Sonata in D major
Concerto Grosso ● A composition for several
instrument soloists and small orchestra
● Tutti vs. Soli ○ Tutti means “all”, the
entire ensemble is playing
○ Soli is the plural of “alone”, a small group of featured soloists are playing
● Example: J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5
Some Composers...old dudes...
George Frederic Handel
We’ll be Bach tomorrow...
Baroque Characteristics of the Elements of Music
Rhythm flowing like the music of the Renaissance; but sometimes the rhythm is more free with starts and stops
Melody elaborate, ornamented, continuously expanding, long and winding, based on scales
Harmony new emphasis on chords and bassline known as the basso continuo
Timbre new emphasis on instrumental music and instrumental accompaniment to voices
Texture more rapid changes in texture (homophony, imitative polyphony) throughout a single piece; homophony more important than before
Dynamics sudden changes from loud to soft called terraced dynamics
Form multi-movement dance formats in instrumental music; opera, oratorio, cantata, and mass formats in vocal music
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
● Born to a family of musicians in Eisenach, Germany
● Orphaned at the age of 10
● Raised by his brother, who was his music teacher
J.S. Bach as a young dude
Bach: prolific and complex
● He wrote over 1000 musical compositions in every format of the Baroque, except Opera
● One cantata a week for eight years ● The public complained about his
“flowery” music ● Musicians though his music was too
difficult to perform
Bach’s Work ● Church Musician
○ write music for services ○ play organ ○ teach choirs and soloists ○ conduct orchestras/choirs
● Court Musician ○ wrote music for entertainment ○ wrote commissioned pieces
● School Teacher ● Organ Teacher ● Organ Construction Consultant ● Composer ● Husband and father
“Since the best man could not be obtained for the job, mediocre ones would have to be accepted.”
-Leipzig town council member commenting on the hiring of Bach
Bach’s Life ● Married his cousin Maria
Barbara, and they had 7 children
● After she died in 1721, he married Anna Magdalena Wilken and they had 13 more children
● Do the math: that is 20 children total.