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The Baroque Period

IGCSE/GCSE teaching/revision resource
by

Elise Haller-Shannon

on 3 December 2015

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Transcript of The Baroque Period

Baroque
The
Period
1600 - 1750
Characteristics
Mood
A Baroque piece usually expresses one mood or feeling throughout.
Rhythm
Melody
Dynamics
Texture
Chords and Basso Continuo
The dynamics in baroque music stayed fairly constant but when they did change the change was sudden.
Sudden changes in dynamics e.g. from piano to forte, are known as
terraced dynamics
.
The reason for the sudden dynamic changes is that the main keyboard instruments of the baroque period were the
organ
and
harpsichord
, which cannot obtain
crescendo
or
diminuendo
like the piano can.
The music tended to have a continuous rhythmic drive. The tempo was very steady and did not vary within a piece.
Rhythmic patterns heard at the beginning of a piece of music are repeated throughout it - often through
sequences
.
Like the rhythm, melody also creates a feeling of continuity. An opening melody can be heard again and again. Although it may be varied, it's character remains constant. The techniques used to create this drive are usually
melodic sequence
and
repetition
.
Baroque melodies are often highly
ornamented
- just like the artistic style of the period.
Baroque music is mainly
polyphonic
in texture, but the texture in some vocal music would shift to
homophonic
depending on the mood.
Bach inclined mainly towards a polyphonic texture where as Handel used a contrast between polyphonic and homophonic sections.
Chords became very significant in the baroque period. As composers wrote a melodic line they thought of the chords to mesh with it, where as before chords were just by products of the melody.
This interest in chords resulted in interesting bass lines, which lead to a prominent feature of baroque music - an accompaniment called
basso continuo
,

meaning 'continuous bass'.
COMPOSERS
The most well known composers in the baroque era were from all over Europe. Some of the most prominent are:
1600
1625
1650
1675
1700
1725
1750
Monteverdi
1567 - 1643
Lully
1632 - 1687
Purcell
c. 1659 - 1695
Corelli
1653 - 1713
Couperin
1668 - 1733
Vivaldi
1678 - 1741
Handel
1685 - 1759
J.S. Bach
1685 - 1750
Vocal Music
INSTRUMENTAL
MUSIC
OPERA
FUGUE
SUITE
SONATA
CONCERTO
GROSSO
CONCERTO
THE
ORCHESTRA
Bach and Handel are often described as the 'giants' of Baroque music.
The term 'Baroque' was first used in connection with the highly ornamented style of architecture and art of the 17th century.
Later on, musicians came to use the word 'Baroque' to describe the period of musical history from the birth of opera and oratorio to the death of Handel.
The orchestra first started to take shape during the Baroque period.
The
string family
was the basis of the orchestra, and composers would add other instruments such as flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns and sometimes trumpets and timpani.
One constant feature throughout the Baroque period was the
harpsichord
or
organ
, which along with the cello, double bass or bassoon, provided the
basso continuo
.
The organ keyboard instrument usually found in churches. It usually has more than one keyboard, plus pedals that are played with the feet.
Listen to this Toccata by J.S. Bach
The concerto grosso is two groups of instruments: a small group of soloists (often two violins and a cello) called the
concertino
, against an orchestra of
strings
called either the
ripieno
(filling) or
tutti
(everyone).
A
harpsichord or organ continuo
filled out the texture when the ripieno was playing and provided supporting harmonies.
Listen to the following concerto grosso's by Corelli and Bach and answer the following questions:
What are the instruments playing in the concertino group?
What instruments are playing the continuo?
SOLO
From the concerto grosso grew the solo concerto. The solo concerto is a
solo instrument
pitted against the rest of the
orchestra
.
How many movements do solo concertos have?
What does the term ritornello mean and how was it applied to the solo concerto?
The composer Vivaldi wrote more than 500 concertos.
Listen to 'The Hunt', the third movement of 'Autumn' from his set of four violin concertos called 'The Four Seasons'.
This movement is in ritornello form, here is the beginning of the ritornello theme:
How many times does this theme appear?
Create a plan to show how Vivaldi builds up this music.
Baroque sonatas were of two main kinds, the
sonata da camera
(or chamber sonata) and the
sonata chiesa
(or church sonata) - in which continuo instruments were likely to be
organ
and perhaps
bassoon
.
Both kinds of sonatas commonly consisted of
four movements
, usually all in the same key, but contrasted in speed
(slow : fast : slow : fast)
.
Many movements were structured in
binary form
.
Chamber sonatas often included dances, whereas church sonatas were more serious in character and the quicker movements were written in a
fugal style
.
Many baroque sonatas were for two violins and continuo (e.g. cello and harpsichord). Composers called these
trio sonatas
(the two melody lines and the figured bass line). Some sonatas were also written for single melody instrument with continuo.
A fugue is a
contrapuntal
composition, based on one main theme called a
subject
.
Throughout a fugue, different melodic lines called 'voices'
imitate
the subject.
The top line - whether sung or played - is called the
soprano
voice, and the bottom line is the
bass
.
FUGUE FACTS
The texture of a fugue is
polyphonic
and usually includes 3 or 4 'voices'.
Though the subject is fairly constant it can change when shifted into different keys or combined with different melodic ideas.
The
form is flexible
, in fact the only constant feature is how they begin.
Suites are sets of
dance inspired movements
although they often begin with a movement that is not dance inspired.
Whether for solo instruments, small groups, or orchestra, a baroque suite is made up of movements that are all written in the same key but differ in tempo, meter and character.
Many suites were written for harpsichord, and eventually the most common plan brought together
four dances from different countries
.
The movements are usually in
binary form
with each section repeated:
A A

B B
. They both use similar thematic material.
The A section opens in the

tonic key

and modulates to the

dominant
.
The B section starts in the

dominant

and ends in the

tonic
.
suite facts
orchestra facts
There was about 30 - 40 members in the Baroque orchestra.
concerto gross0 facts
The harpsichord is keyboard instrument which looks like a small grand piano.
The keys are laid out in the same way, as on a piano but are opposite in colour – the majority of the keys are black, and the raised ones are white.
When a key is pressed, it causes a string to be plucked, which gives the harpsichord a 'twangy' sound.
Listen to the following two pieces and identify the characteristics you hear...
Do you recognise these pieces?
Who are the composers? Can you name the works?
Italian for '
continuous bass
'. It's usually played by two instruments:
A
keyboard
instrument, like an
organ or harpsichord
.
And a
low melodic instrument
like a
cello or bassoon
.
With the left hand the organist or harpsichordist plays the bass part, which is also performed by the cello or bassoonist.
With the right hand the keyboard player
improvises
chords following indications of numbers (figures) above the bass part - aka 'figured bass'.
SONATA FACTS
3
It mean's 'return' and refers to the main theme which appears at the beginning returning after each solo section.
Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3
What characteristic sounds of the Baroque orchestra can you hear?
Sonata da Camera
Sonata da Chiesa
- lively, chamber sonata.
- solemn, religious sonata.
What, and how many instruments are playing in each sonata?
Bach's Fugue in C Minor No.2
How many times does the subject enter?
Did you know?
Fugue means 'flight' - giving the idea of the voices fleeing or chasing each other as they enter with the subject.
'He Trusted In God' from Handel's Messiah
Here is an example of a vocal fugue:
Two or more separate melodies sung or played at the same time.
A single, fairly brief, melody of strong musical character. First heard by one 'voice' only.
(Or SATB)
Imitation does not have to be exact.
German Allemande
French Courante
Italian Corrente
Spanish Sarabande
- 4/4 time, moderate speed.
- 3/2/ or 6/4 time, moderately fast.
- 3/4 or 3/8 time, rather quicker.
- slow triple time, often with the second
beat emphasised.
OR
English Jig (Gigue)
- usually in compound time.
Listen to the following Sarabande and Gigue from one of Handel's harpsichord suites and think about the following:
The basic plan of the sarabande is binary form without repeats. How does Handel extend this to make it into a longer piece?
Is the form of the gigue
binary
,
ternary
,
rondo
, or
variations
?
Invent a short piece with the form of a sarabande.
AB
ABA
ABACA
Watch this scene from a modern adaption of a Baroque opera.
Name a possible composer.
Comment on the stage, actions, costume - how does it differ from the oratorio?
ORATORIO
cantata
chorale
Oratorios are
sacred

works, usually based on a
story from the bible
, that were usually presented in churches rather than concert halls and theatres.
Oratorios consisted of
recitatives
,
arias
and
choruses
.
In your groups pick ONE of these 3 concepts and write a
definition
and
description
of it along with a
musical example
to present to the class.
TASK
RELIGIOUS
SECULAR
Watch part of this oratorio performance - make comments on your observations of the layout (orchestra, choir etc).
One of the most popular oratorios is Handel's Messiah. Handel tends to use the
recitative

to move the story along
and the
arias
for the more
thoughtful and reflective moments
.
Listen to this excerpt from Handel's Messiah and describe the accompaniment to the recitative and to the chorus 'Glory to God' that follows.
Listen to this chorale, 'O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden' (Oh sacred head now wounded), from St Matthew's Passion by J.S. Bach.
Is the music polyphonic or homophonic?
Name the four vocal parts you can hear.
How would you describe the accompaniment?
Bach composed the 'Christmas Oratorio' and also three settings of the
Passion
(a type of oratorio which tells the story of Christ's crucifixion).
Besides recitatives, choruses and arias, Bach includes settings of
chorales
(german hymn tunes) which he places at key points to intensify the most solemn and deeply moving parts of the story.
A chorale is a german hymn tune - the
melody
of which would be sung by the congregation and
harmonised
by a choir.
Bach also composed more than 200 church cantatas.
The word 'cantata' originally meant a piece was 'sung', as to differentiate from a sonata, which was 'played'.
They are for
soloists
and
chorus
accompanied by
orchestra
and
continuo
- kind of like a mini oratorio.
A Bach contata usually:
opens with a weighty chorus with orchestra
continues with recitatives, arias and duets for the soloists
closes with a chorale
They have
religious text
(usually german) which was either newly written or drawn from the bible.
Cantata No. 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, a Voice is Calling Us; 1731) by J.S. Bach is a fine example of a cantata and his most famous.
This was based on Bach's chorale 'Wachet Auf'.
'Wachet Auf' was a widely known hymn tune at the time of this composition (as it was written 130 years before!) and the text and melody had been used by several composers before Bach.
The hymn has 3 stanzas, all sung to the to the same melody. Bach used the chorale melody and text in 3 of the 7 movements of his canata.
Chorales are essentially hymn tunes that have been harmonised by composers - sometimes the hymn tune is hundreds of years old!
THE CHORALE PRELUDE
A popular type of piece, particularly in Germany - the
chorale prelude
was based on a

chorale melody
.
Written for organ.
Fugal style OR variations on the melody.
Sometimes played before the hymn (PRElude) to remind congregation of the melody.
(not vocal, but connected to vocal music)
OR with a melody weaving in and out.
Music A (chorale melody)
Music B (background to chorale melody)
J.S. Bach Chorale Prelude: Wachet Auf
Bach takes a scrap of the chorale melody.
And from this
builds
a rhythmic tune which he weaves throughout the piece.
This chorale prelude is actually an arrangement of a movement from his cantata of the same name.
Elements of
Opera
Think about all of the characteristics of Baroque music you have learned about. List 3 elements you can hear.
Opera was a major innovation in music that greatly developed during the Baroque era.
With a unique fusion of music, acting, poetry, dancing, scenery and costumes, Opera was a theatrical performance offering excitement and emotion.
It began in Italy in 1600 and has since spread to many countries.
Opera demands performers who can sing and act simultaneously.
Unlike the oratorio, opera isn't based on a religious story. Some are based myths and some have been written from scratch.
Therefore an opera requires the joint effort of a COMPOSER and a LIBRETTIST.
Opera
Oratorio
Religious
Secular
Recitative
Soloists
Duets
Aria
Chorus
Chorale
Conductor
Operas are different to oratorios, but they also many have similarities. Discuss in your groups and tick the boxes you think apply to each work and cross the boxes that don't.
England was slow to take up opera, but one of the most famous operas of the Baroque era is Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas', which was written for students at an all girls boarding school.
In this opera Purcell has used a technique called
ground bass
.
Ground bass is a musical idea in which the bass is repeated over and over while the melodies above it change. It can be as short as 4 notes or as long as 8 bars.
Ground Bass
Purcell uses this technique in 'Dido's Lament' which is the climax of the opera.
The movement opens with a _________ that may have been intended to represent a procession or march. There are _______ rhythms, a rising figure with ___________ and a series of ___________ scales.
ritornello
dotted
syncopation
ascending
Which voice enters after the ritornello's closing?
Three other voices enter soon after. What word would you use to describe the way technique the composers uses?
How has the orchestral part changed?
Soprano
Imitation
Quieter, shorter notes
Listen again and answer the following...
Listen to the beginning of the cantata and follow the skeleton score of the orchestral part.
You are going to listen to and analyse the 1st and 7th movements of this cantata.
Some background on one of Bach's most famous cantatas...
1st Movement - Chorus and Orchestra
7th mOVEMENT - CHORALE
Bach rounds off Cantata No.140 by bringing back the chorale and all voices and instruments take part.
(Chorale at 26.39)
The chorale is set for
SATB
in a fairly simple,
homophonic texture
with the instruments doubling them. It is also heard as a
continuous melody
without interludes between phrases.
The words are in German but translated into English express praise of god, faith in him and joy being in his kingdom.
How has Bach expressed this through the music?
Major key, rich sound, full harmonies, regular rhythms...
What type of song is this?
Checklist
Ripeno
Ritornello
Harpsichord
organ
concerto grosso
concerto
baroque composers
oratorio
fugue
orchestra
suite
basso continuo
sonata da camera
sonata da chiesa
sonata
chorus
aria
recitative
You need to know what all of these words are/mean
polyphonic
homophonic
timpani
contrapuntal
subject
opera
cantata
chorale
ground bass
tonic
dominant
sequence
terraced dynamics
concertino
Dido's Lament
A melodic __________ accompanied only by ______ ____________ sets the sorrowful mood for Dido's lament. This _____ is built on a ______________ descending ground bass that is stated 11 times. Dido's melody moves freely above the repeated bass line, creating touching ___________ with it.
In the Baroque period such chromatic ground basses were commonly used to show grief.
recitative
basso
continuo
aria
chromatically
dissonance
Ground Bass
BINARY
TERNARY
RONDO
melismatic
syllabic
resonance
dissonance
Full transcript