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History and Features of Baroque Music

The main characteristics of Renaissance music (1450-1600) is music based on modes, but gradually more accidentals creep in, richer texture in four or more parts, blending rather than contrasting strands in the musical texture, harmony and church music and  secular music.  Renaissance music is like ancient Greek and Rome. Renaissance means rebirth. Church music in renaissance period was more than one part and had moving chords. They usually had more accidentals and was song a Capella without instruments.

A renaissance composer tried to have the music more blended together rather than separated. Secular music was more independent of churches it was non-religious. Lied, frottala, chanson, madrigal and villancico was the main types of songs.

German chorales are protestant hymns. A collection of English words and Italian madrigals were published in 1588. English madrigal were performed in rich people’s homes. There are three kinds of madrigal. The madrigal proper, the ballet and the ayre. The madrigal proper is a lot of word painting music. The ballet texture was mainly chordal. The ayre could be performed in a lot of ways. It could be performed with or without instruments.

The main characteristic of Baroque music (1600-1750) is the basso continuo, one mood throughout the entire piece, important string sections, modes were replaced by the major/minor key system, many different forms are used, many types of music, energetic rhythms, long melodies, many ornaments and contrast dynamics. Baroque music had monody. Monody is a single voice line that is supported by a bass line. Instrumental music became very important in the baroque period.

The Italian overture began with three section quick, slow and quick. Scarlatti designed the arias in his operas. The French overture is slow, quick and slow. The baroque opera in England was composed by Purcell.

Oratorio was a type of music that was very similar opera. They had recitatives, arias and choruses. The only thing that was different was that oratorio was based on sacred stories. Passion is an oratorio telling a story about Christ’s crucifixion.

Cantata means song. Bach composed about 200 church cantatas. A fugue is a contrapuntal piece. It’s written in three or four parts. The structure of a fugue can be complicated. The chorale prelude is usually for an organ and they were composed in Germany.

A suite is dances for one or more instruments. They were written for harpsichord. They contain a German allemande. A German allemande is in 4/4 time and at modern speed. A French courante is in 3/2 time at a moderately fast speed. A Spanish sarabande is in slow triple time. A gigue is in compound time. After a gigue a composer might introduces a dance like the minuet. A suite began with the prelude. The pieces were in the same key.

Baroque sonatas were for two violins and continuo. Composers usually called these trio sonatas. Sonata means sounded. The sonata de camera were meant to be played in people’s homes. The sonata de Chiesa were played in churches. They were more serious than chamber sonatas. Purcell, Bach, Corelli, Handel, Scarlatti and Couperin all composed sonatas.

The concerto Grosso was the idea of opposition and contrast led to contrasting groups of instrument. A smaller group of soloists called the concertino. The word concerto means together. The solo concerto has a single instrument and a string orchestra. There are solo sections and tutti sections.

The orchestra started to take shape during the baroque period. The string section became a self- contained section. There was still a continuo. There was a lot of contrast, especially in the dynamics.

The difference between Renaissance and Baroque music is renaissance was constrained and it was the foundation of baroque music. Baroque music include voices and instruments. Renaissance music was smooth and baroque music was metrical.

The tone of baroque music was tonal architecture and renaissance music had systematic point. Melody with accompaniment was noted during the baroque period. The melody during renaissance was imitative.  The texture of renaissance is polyphonic and baroque uses bass and shifts from polyphonic to homophonic.

The scale of baroque is major and renaissance is modal. The melody of renaissance is smooth and baroque is based on the principle of continuous. The harmony of baroque is based on the major-minor system and renaissance is consonant 3rds and 6ths.

The rhythm of the renaissance was simple meters and recurring accents. The rhythm of baroque is vigorous, tireless drive and carried by bass part. The dynamics of the renaissance is subtle changes and baroque music is terraces dynamics.

Josquin des Prez was born in henedouwen. He died on august 27, 1521. He died in escaut Josquin studied under the earlier renaissance master Johannes ockeghem.  Josquin was a Flemish French speaking composer of the renaissance.

At the beginning of his career he was appointed at the French court. In the beginning of 1480 he moved to Italy. Josquin composed motets, masses and chansons. Martin Luther said Joaquin’s was the master of notes. He blended traditional forms with innovations.

In his motets he gave free reign to his talent. He was expressing sorrow in poignant harmonies.

Josquin used cantus firmus style. He learned how to develop motet style. He used the technique of canon and melodic imitation. He didn’t do the rondeau or the ballade. He used five or six voices. Maintain a sharp rhythm and clarity texture.

Henry Purcell was born in London in 1659 and died on November 21, 1695. Henry Purcell was an English composer of the baroque period. Henry was most remember for the miniature opera dido and anenea. He composed church, stage, court and private entertainment. Henry’s father was the chapel royal.

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