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Unformatted text preview: 31 CHAPTER 5 MUSIC IN THE BAROQUE PERIOD (c. 1600-1750) GENERAL BACKGROUND ON THE BAROQUE The Baroque was the last great age of European aristocratic monarchies. During this period, much of the world was colonized on behalf of Europe's crowned heads, and Protestantism successfully rivaled Catholicism. Notable scientists were Newton, Bacon and Kepler. Important writers and artists were Descartes, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, El Greco, Milton, Pope, Racine and Moliere. Important Musical Considerations in the Baroque Period Dramatic contrast is the hallmark of Baroque musical style. Composers of this era accomplished this by using structural opposition in their works: - contrasting meters (duple vs. triple) and tempos (fast vs. slow)- contrasting ensembles (big vs. small, choir vs. instruments, etc.)- contrasting dynamics (sudden changes from loud to quiet" terraced dynamics ")- contrasting textures (polyphonic vs. homophonic)- contrast-based forms (such as binary [AB] and ritornello [big vs. small groups] - contrasting movements (each aimed to achieve different responses in the listener) In Baroque works, contrast is essential between movements; however, within a movement one consistent mood and rhythmic pulse prevails in order to evoke one specific emotional response (this concept is often called "The Doctrine of Affections"). For the first time, instrumental music became more significant than vocal music, with the organ , harpsichord , and the violin family being the most favored instruments. Musical works became significantly longer, necessitating that larger works be subdivided into contrasting sections called movements . In the Baroque, music was written in polyphonic counterpoint (with several complex independent melodic lines occurring simultaneously within a work). Harmony moved towards tonality (centered around a single "home-key" pitch called a "tonic"). By 1700, motoric rhythm (a constant pulse or beat) was a primary feature of Western music. Sacred and secular styles became more similar; thus, it is best to make distinctions between Baroque vocal and instrumental music. Many new forms and genres were created for instruments, and instruments were now used to accompany all types of vocal music. CHAPTER 5: Music in the Baroque 32 Basso Continuo An important feature of Baroque music is the use of basso continuo a small "back-up" instrumental group that provided an improvised harmonic accompaniment for many types of Baroque music (similar in function to the keyboard and bass instruments in today's jazz, rock and pop styles). Basso continuo was usually comprised of a keyboard instrument (harpsichord or organ) and a melodic bass instrument (cello or viol' da gamba).: Viol' da gamba Harpsichord Representative Composers of the Baroque The leading composers of the 17 th century came from Italy; however, in the early 1700s, the focus of Baroque musical innovation shifted to Germany: Early and Middle Baroque (c. 1600-1700) Claudio MONTEVERDI...
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