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History Of Music

The Baroque

Course Outline
About your Teacher
Musical Links
Introduction to the Class
What is Classical Music?
Elements of Music
The Middle Ages
The Renaissance
The Baroque
Take home Work
The Classicism
The Romanticism
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History, Music and Arts. 

Baroque Period: 1600-1750


Baroque :

            -Indicates a particular style in the arts.

            _Baroque means:          -elaborately  ornamental



            -Baroque Art is a complex mixture of    -Rationalism





Baroque painters:

            -Gian Lorenzo Bernini

            -Peter Paul Rubens

            -Rembrandt Van Rijn.

Baroque painters exploited their materials to expand the potential of color, depth, ornament and detail to create totally structured worlds.


Baroque Composers:

            The two giants of baroque composition were J.S. Bach  and George Friederick Handel.

            Other Baroque composers were:           -Antonio Vivaldi

                                                                        -Arcangelo Corelli

                                                                        -Claudio Monteverdi.


-Early Baroque composers favored homophonic texture over the polyphonic texture typical of Renaissance Music.

-Baroque music features contrats between bodies of sound.


-The  early baroque: was characterized by homophonic texture.

            -Is considered to be one of the most revolutionary periods in music history.

-Composers favored homophonic texture


Claudio Monteverdi:  (Early baroque composer)

            -His music was passionate and dramatic.



-Middle Baroque: A diffusion of the style into every corner of Europe

            -Composers favored writing compositions for instruments of the string family.


By about 1680, major and minor scales were the tonal basis of most compositions.


Late Baroque:

-Instrumental music became as important as vocal music for the first time.


Musical Characteristics of the Baroque Period:

            -Affections in baroque usage refers to emotional states or moods of music.

            -A baroque musical composition usually expresses one basic mood within the same movement.

            -The baroque principle of unity of mood may be temporarily suspended in vocal music when drastic changes of emotion in a text inspires corresponding changes in the music.

            -The compelling drive and energy in baroque music are usually provided by repeated rhythmic patterns.

            -Baroque melodies often are elaborated and ornamental. They give the impression of dynamic expansion.

            -Melodic sequences: A successive repetition of a musical idea at higher or lower pitch levels.

            -A characteristic often found in baroque melodies is a short opening phrase followed by a longer phrase with an unbroken flow of rapid notes.

            -Terraced dynamics: The sudden alternation from one dynamic level to another. -Sudden alternations between loud and soft.-


-The most characteristic feature of baroque music is its use of basso continuo.


-Basso continuo: is a bass part together with numbers (figures) that specified chords to be played above it.


-The orchestra evolved during the baroque period into a performing group based on instruments of the violin family.


Movement: A piece that sounds fairly complete and independent but is part of a larger composition.


-A large court during the baroque might employ more than eighty performers, including the finest opera singers of the day.

-The music director of a baroque court was usually responsible for :

                                    -Supervising and directing musical performances

                                    -Composing much of the music desired.

                                    -The discipline of the other musicians.


-In Italy, schools were often connected with orphanages.


-Church musicians in the baroque period earned lower pay and had less status than court musicians.


-Frederick the Great, King of Prusia, was a a flutist, a composer and a general.


-The position of the composer during the baroque period was that of a high-class servant with few personal rights.


-In the baroque period, the ordinary citizens opportunities for hearing music usually came from the church.


-To get a job, a musician hat to pass a difficult examination.


Concerto Grosso:

- It most often has three movements.

-         The tempo markings for these three movements usually are fast, slow, fast

-         The first and last movements of concerti grosso are often in ritornello form..

            -  It has two groups of players.

-         The large group of players is known as the tutti.

-         It normally involves two to four soloists, and anywhere from eight to twenty or more musicians for the tutti.

-         It presents a contrast of texture between the tutti and the soloists, who assert their individuality and appeal for attention through brilliant and fanciful melodic lines.

-         The principal and often recurring theme of a concerto grosso movement is called the ritornello.

-         Bachs Brandenburg Concerto N0. 5 is unusual in that it gives a solo role to the harpsichord. The solo instruments in this concerto are the flute, violin and harpsichord.



Fugue: A cornerstone of baroque music. This is a polyphonic composition based on one main theme. This main theme is imitated by different voices through the whole piece. This main theme is called the subject.

            - The answer: it is the subject presented in de dominant scale. 

-In many fugues, the subject in one voice is constantly accompanied in another voice by a different melodic idea called a countersubject.

            -Episodes: Transitional sections of a fugue that offer either new materials or fragments of the subject or countersubject.

            -Stretto: it is a musical procedure in which a fugue subject is imitated before it is completed.

            -Pedal Point: It is a single tone, usually in the bass, that is held while the other voices produce a series of changing harmonies against it.

            -Inversion: is a musical procedure consisting of turning the subject of a fugue upside down, or reversing the direction of each interval.

            -Retrograde: It is a musical procedure consisting of presenting the subject of a fugue going from right to left, or beginning with the last and proceeding backward to the first note.

            -Augmentation: It is a musical procedure consisting of presenting the subject of a fugue in lengthened time values.

            -Diminution: It is a musical procedure consisting of presenting the subject of a fugue in shortened time values.

-Prelude: is a short piece of music used to introduced a fugue.


Opera: Is a play, set to music, sung to orchestral accompaniment, with scenary, costumes, and action.

            -Libretto: It is the text, or book, of a musical dramatic work.


            -Voice categories in opera are divided more finely than in other musical genres.

            -Operas may contain spoken dialogue, but most are entirely sung.

            -Opera soloists must create a wide variety of characters, and so need acting skills as well as vocal artistry.

            -Basso profundo: Is a singer with a very low range and powerful voice, who usually takes roles calling for great dignity.

            -Basso buffo: Is a singer with a low range who usually takes comic roles.


            -Aria: A song for solo voice with orchestral accompaniment.

            -Recitative: Refers to a vocal line that imitates the rhythms and pitch fluctuations of speech.

            -Duet: Is a musical number for two solo voices with orchestral accompaniment.

            -Ensemble: Is an operatic number involving three or more lead singers.

            -The conductor: is the person who beats time, indicates expression, cues in musicians, and controls the balance among instruments and voices.

            -Ouverture: An orchestral composition performed before the curtain rises on a dramatic work.


Camerata Fiorentina: Members of the Camerata wanted to create a new vocal style based on the music of the ancient Greek tragedies. Most early baroque operas were based on Greek mythology and ancient history.

            -They wanted the vocal line of their music to follow the rhythms and pitch fluctuations of speech.

            -Polyphony was rejected by the Camerata because different words sounding simultaneously would obscure the text.

            -The earliest opera that has been preserved is Jacopo Peris Euridice.

            -Most early baroque operas were based on Greek mythology and ancient history.

            -The first opera house in Europe to offer entry to anyone with the price of admission opened in 1637 in Venice.

            -The stage machinery of baroque opera bordered on the colossal.


            Castrati: Were male singers who had been castrated before puberty. Combined the lung  power of a man with the vocal range of a woman. Received the highest fees of any musicians.


            -Secco Recitative: Is a speechlike melody accompanied only by a basso continuo.

            -A Typical baroque operatic form was the dacapo aria in ABA form in which the singer was expected to embellish the returning melody with ornamental tones

            -Embellishments: are ornamental tones not printed in the music that seventeenth-and eighteenth-century performers were expected to add to the melody.


Claudio Monteverdi: Spent the greater part of his career in the most important church post in Italy: St. Marks, Venice.

                        -To achieve intensity of expression, Monteverdi used dissonance with unprecedented freedom and daring.

                        -To evoke angry or warlike feelings in some of his texts, Monteverdi introduced new orchestral effects, including pizzicato and tremolo.

                        -Monteverdis vocal music ordinarily was supported by a basso continuo and other instruments.

                        -Monteverdis Orfeo, written in 1607, is considered to be the earliest operatic masterpiece. In this work, Monteverdi creates variety by using many kinds of music, combining recitatives, arias, duets, choruses, and instrumental interludes into one dramatic whole. In the Opera Orfeo, Orpheus goes to Hades in the hope of bringing Eurydice back to life.

                        -Monteverdis works form a musical bridge between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and greatly influenced composers of the time.



Henry Purcell:

            -Purcell mastered all the musical forms of the late seventeenth-century England, including church music, secular choral music, music for small  groups of instruments, songs, and music for the stage.

            -Purcells music is filled with lively rhythms and a fresh melodic style that captures the spirit of English folk songs.

            -Dido and Aeneas, which many consider to be the finest opera ever written to an English text, was composed by Henry Purcell. This work was inspired by the Aeneid, an epic poem by Vrigil. Dido, in Virgils epic poem that Purcell used as the basis for his opera Dido and Aeneas, was queen of Carthage.

            -Some indications of the acclaim and respect given Henry Purcell by his fellow Englishmen can be seen from the fact that he is buried in Westminster Abbey.


Basso Ostinato: A musical idea  repeated over and over in the bass while melodies above it constantly change. A common variation form in the baroque is based on the use of a ground bass


Sonata: The sonata in the baroque period was a composition in several movements for one to eight instruments.

            -The sonata originated in Italy but spread to Germany, England and France during the seventeenth century.

            -Sonatas were played in palaces, in homes, and even before, during and after church services.

            -Baroque trio sonatas usually involve four performers.

Corellis Trio Sonata in A minor, Op3, no 10 is scored for two violins and basso continuo. It consists of four short movements, all in the same key. As characteristic of baroque trio sonatas, the second movement of this Corellis  work is fuguelike.


            -Sonata da chiesa: A sonata intended to be played in church, and therefore dignified and suitable for sacred performance.


-Sonata de Camera: A sonata to be played at court, and therefore dancelike in character.



The abbreviation Op. stands for opus, Latin for Work.


Antonio Vivaldi:

            -Spent most of his life working at an institution for orpfhaned and illegitimate girls in Venice.

            -He is closely identified with the musical life of Venice.

            -He was famous and influential as a virtuoso violinist.

            -Some of his instrumental concertos were arranged by Johan Sebastian Bach.

            -He wrote approximately 450 concerti grossi and solo concertos.

            -A Vivaldi concerto usually has three movements

            -Vivaldi wrote concertos for a great variety of instruments.


Trill: A musical ornament consisting of the rapid alternation of two tones that are a whole or half step apart.



            -Of Bachs twenty children, four went on to become well-known composers.

            -The longest period of his professional life was spent as director of music at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.

            -While at Leipzig, Bach taught organ and composition, gave recitals, and was often asked to judge the quality of organs. He was responsible for the musical education of some fifty-five students in the St. Thomas school. He rehearsed, conducted, and usually composed an extended work for chorus, soloists and orchestra for each Sunday and holiday of the church year.

            -Bachs music uses operatic forms such as the arias and recitative.

            -Bach created masterpieces in every baroque form except opera.

            -Bachs music is unique for its combination of rich harmony and polyphonic texture.


            -Bach was recognized as the most eminent organist of his day.

            -Bachs personal music style was drawn from Italian concertos, French dance pieces, German church music.

            Bach achieves unity of mood in his compositions by using an insistent rhythmic drive.

            -Well-Tempered Clavier: A collection of twice twenty-four preludes and fugues, one in each major and minor key, basic to the repertoire of keyboard players today. This collection of composition displays all the resources of fugue writing.




Improvisation: is music created at the same time as it is performed.


The Baroque suite:

            -Baroque suites often begin with a French overture.

            -A baroque suite is made up of different movements that are all written in the same key but differ in tempo, meter, and character.

            -The various dances of the baroque suite are usually in AABB form.

            -Although All the movements of a baroque suite are written in the same key, they differ in meter, national origin and tempo.

            -Baroque suites usually begin with a French ouverture. The French ouverture: has two sections: slow-fast


Church Music:

            -In Bachs day, the Lutheran church service lasted about four hours.

            -The chorale is a Lutheran congregational hymn tune.

            -The Lutheran chorale tunes had been adapted from Catholic hymns. They were composed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They had been adapted from folk songs.

            -A Chorale prelude: is a short instrumental composition based on a hymn tune that reminds the congregation of the hymns melody. It is an instrumental composition.


Cantata: A sung piece, or choral work with or without vocal soloists, usually with orchestral accompaniment..

            -In their use of aria, duet, and recitative, Bachs cantatas closely resembled the operas of the time.

            -In a sense, the cantata was s sermon in music that reinforced the ministers sermon.

            -The cantata of Bachs day might last 25 minutes and contain several different movements, including choruses, recitatives, arias and duets.



            -Oratorio differs from opera in that it has no acting, scenery, or costumes.

            -An oratorio is a large-scale composition for chorus, vocal soloists, and orchestra, usually set to a narrative text.

            -The first oratorios were based on stories from the Bible.

            -Pieces of an oratorio are usually connected together by means of a narrators recitatives.

            -The chorus in the oratorio  is especially important and serves either to comment on or to participate in the drama.

            -In oratorio, the story is carried forward by the narrators recitatives.

            _Oratorios first appeared in Italy

            -George Friederick Handels Messiah is an example of an oratorio.


George Friederick Handel:

            -He was born in 1685, the same year as J.S. Bach

            -Handel spent the major portion of his life in England.

            -He wrote the Messiah, an oratorio.

            -Ion addition to being a composer and opera impresario, Handel was a virtuoso organist.

            -Although Handel wrote a great deal of instrumental music, the core of his huge output consists of English oratorios and Italian operas.

            -Handels oratorios are usually based on the Old Testament.

            -The focus of the Handelian oratorio is sually the chorus.

            -Handels Messiah, set to a text compiled by Charles Jennings from the Old Testaments, is meditative rather than as dramatic as Handels other oratorios.


            Handels oratorios include: Messiah, Israel in Egypt and Joshua