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The French word baroque, a word that here means over the top, ornamented, bizarre, or misshapen pearl, is a word that is adopted by contemporary musicologists from an 18th century music review of Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie's performance in 1733, to help describe the cultural characteristics of the 18th century after the Reformation. Musicologists have borrowed this term because the anonymous author who reviewed Rameau's 1733 performance in Paris described it as "du baroque", meaning his opera hardly followed a melodic line and prima practtica techniques. The baroque term though, not only reflected music, but also described the elaborate and decorative architecture of the 18th century as well . Thus, it was evident why this term -- baroque, a word used to describe architecture and music in the 18th century -- would be a perfect title for musicologists to name this century after.
Monody is a term used by modern historians to embrace all the styles of accompanied solo singing practiced in the late 16th and early 17th century.
Prima Practtica is the 16th century style of vocal polyphony codified by Zarlino. This would adhere to the voice-leading rules of horizontal sonorities, including how to approach, leave, and how to utilize dissonances. The music followed its own rules and thus dominated verbal text.
Giovanni Maria Artusi criticized Monteverdi's 'Cruda Amarilli', not for its dissonances but for needlessly breaking the rules. He was clearly a traditionalist.
In Seconda Prattica (second practice), the music serves to heighten the effect and rhetorical power of the words, and voice-leading rules may be broken and dissonances may be used more freely to express the feelings evoked in the text. The second practice did not dislike the fist, but each was used where appropriate. This theory is seen in Monteverdi's 'Cruda Amarilli'. He uses numerous dissonances that violate the rules of counterpoint: the requirement of suspensions to be resolved before the bass moves again, forbid passing tones from falling on strong beats, and require dissonances to be entered and left by step. Here the rule-breaking and striking dissonances serve as a rhetorical device, highlighting the words "cruda" (cruel) and "ahi lasso" (alas) and forcing the listener of Monteverdi's time to interpret the rule-breaking music in light of the text.
Baroque composers sought to express emotions such as sadness, joy, anger, love, fear, excitement, or wonder which can now be generalized under the term: The Affections. The affections were thought of as relatively stable states of the soul, each caused by a certain combination of spirited, or "humors", in the body. According to René Descartes, once these spirited were set in motion by external stimuli through the senses, they conveyed their motions to the soul, thus bringing about specific emotions. Composers utilized seconda practtica and word painting, to help portray these variety of emotions. Composers believed these variety of emotions brought humors into better balance, promoting physical and psychological health, so that both vocal and instrumental works typically offered a succession of contrasting moods.
This dramatic characteristic of the Baroque was evident not only in music, but also in art, architecture, and was reinforced in science where science was based on human observation instead of traditional theories.
In the Basso Continuo or "thorough bass" system, the composers wrote out the melody or melodies and the bass line but left it to the performers to fill in the appropriate chords or in inner parts. The bass and chords were played on one or more continuo instruments, typically harpsichord, organ, lute, or theorbo, a large lute with extra bass strings. By the later 17th century, the bass line was frequently reinforced by a melody instrument such as the viola da gamba, cello, or bassoon. Guilio Caccini's 'Vedrò 'l mio sol' is an early example of figured bass notation, the bass is figured with the exact intervals to be sounded in the chords above it, such as the dissonant 11th resolving to the major tenth in the first measure.
When the chords to be played were other than common triads in root position, or if non chord tones (such as suspensions) or accidentals were needed, the composers usually added figures -- numbers or flat or sharp signs -- above or below the bass notes to indicate the precise notes required.
Realizing the figured bass -- the actual playing -- of such a bass varied according to the type of piece and the skill and taste of the player, who had considerable room for improvisation. The continuo player was free to aid the interpretations and different emphases of various soloists. An example of this is Giulio Caccini's 'Vedrò 'l mio sol'.
The quintessential art of the 17th century is opera, a union of poetry, drama, music, and stagecraft, all brought to life through performance. An opera (Italian for "work") consists of a text or libretto ("little book:), a play usually in rhymed or unrhymed verse, combined with continuous or nearly continuous music, and is staged with scenery, costumes, and action.
In one sense, opera was a new invention, an attempt to recreate in modern terms the experience of ancient Greek tragedy in a drama, sung throughout, in which music conveys the emotional effects. Yet in another sense, opera was a blend of existing genres, including plays, theatrical spectacles, dance, madrigals, and solo song. Both views are correct, because the creators of early operas drew on ideas about ancient tragedy and on the content of modern genres.
One of the earliest Greek dramas was Euripides: 'Orestes'. A medieval liturgical drama that was sun throughout was 'Tropes on Puer Natus: Quem Queritis in Presepe and Melisma'.
The Cantata, meaning "to be sung", was a new secular genre of vocal chamber music in the 17th century. It had continuo, usually was for solo voice, on lyrical or quasi-dramatic text, and had several sections of recitatives and arias. Most cantatas were composed for private performances for patrons. Barbara Strozzi's 'Lagrime Mie' is an example of the solo cantata with its successive sections of recit', arioso, and aria, and Strozzi's focus on unrequited love.
In short, the cantata could be seen as a mini opera.
Baroque Sacred Concerto
Catholic composers adopted the theatrical idiom of church music, setting religious texts in sacred concertos that incorporated basso continuo, the conertato medium, monody, and operatic styles from recitative to aria. The dramatic, powerful art medium conveyed the church's message in the most persuasive and rhetorically effective way.
The church did not abandon polyphony though, but instead utilized both styles, better known as the modern style, or "stile moderno". The old style of traditional polyphony was known as "stile antico" (old style).
An example of a large-scale sacred concerto would be Gabrieli's "In Ecclesiis". Here, Gabrieli combined four vocal soloists, a four-part chorus, a six-part instrumental ensemble, and organs in a medley of modern arias, instrumental canzonas, and Renaissance imitative polyphony. All these styles slowly built a massive sonorous climax.
The large-scale sacred concerto was only used for major feast days in the large and wealthy churches.
In 17th century Rome, a new genre of religious dramatic music emerged, combining narrative, dialogue, and commentary. Toward midcentury, such works became known as oratorios, meaning "prayer hall".
Like operas, oratorios used recitatives, arias, duets, and instrumental preludes and ritornellos. Oratorios differed from operas in several ways though: their subject matter was religious; they were seldom staged; action was described or suggested rather than played out; there was often a narrator; and the chorus--usually an ensemble of several voices singing one to a party--could take various roles, from participating in the drama to narrating or meditating on events. Oratorio librettos were in Latin or Italian.
Carissimi, the leading composer of Latin oratorios, composed the piece "Jephte" which exemplifies the midcentury oratorio. The libretto is based on the scriptures, with some paraphrasing and added material. In recit, the narrator introduces the story, six singers make up the chorus, victory is shown through solo arias, duets, and ensembles, and at one instance, two sopranos echo some of cadential flourishes. The response by the chorus of six voices employs both polychoral and madrigalistic effects, including the descending tetrachord bass associated with laments.
The toccata is an instrumental genre of the 17th century. Specifically, it is a keyboard, lute, harpsichord, or organ piece in improvisatory style. The toccata genre was most commonly composed for the harpsichord and organ though because the genre depended on sustained tone and unusual harmonies, characteristics these instruments could perform dominantly.
Frescobaldi was the most important composer of the toccata. His Toccata No.3 features a succession of brief sections, each focus on a particular figure that is subtly varied. Some sections display virtuoso passage work, while others pass ideas between voices. Each section ends with a cadence, weakened harmonically, rhythmically, or through continued voice movement in order to sustain momentum until the very end. According to the composer's preface, the various sections of these toccatas may be played separately, and the player may end the piece at any appropriate cadence, reminding us that in the Baroque era written music was a platform for performance, not an unchangeable text. Frescobaldi also sought to convey a variety of affections or moods in each toccata.
Tragédie en Musique
For over three decades, Louis XIV's favorite musician was Jean-Baptiste Lully. Lully wrote music for ballets and religious services at court but earned his greatest success with dramatic music. With Louis' support, Lully created a distinctive French kind of opera the persisted for a century.
With Louis XIV's support, Lully purchased a royal privilege granting him the exclusive right to produce sung drama in France and established the Académie Royale de Musique. Here, Lully's librettist, Jean-Philippe Quinault and him reconciled the demands of drama music, and ballet in a new French form of opera, tragédie en musique (tragedy in music) later named tragédie lyrique.
These 5 act dramas combined serious plots from ancient mythology or chivalric tales with frequent divertissements (diversions), long interludes of dancing and choral singing. Quinault combined episodes of romance and adventure with adulation of the king, glorification of France, and moral reflection. His texts were overtly and covertly propagandistic, in tune with Louis' use of the arts. Each opera included a prologue, often singing the king's praises. The plots depicted a well-ordered, disciplined society, and the mythological characters and settings reinforced the parallels Louis sought to draw between his regime and ancient Greece and Rome. The librettos also provided opportunities for spectacles to entertain the audience.
Lully's "Armide" is an example of the tragédie musique style.
The tragédie lyrique is the transformed word from its original "tragédie en musique" title. See the "tragédie en musique".
Each of Lully's operas began with an overture (French for "opening"), or overture, marking the entry of the king (when he was present) and welcoming him and the audience to the performance. Lully's overtures were appropriately grand and followed a format that he had already used in his ballets, now known as a French overture.
There are two sections, each played twice. The first is homophonic and majestic, marked by dotted rhythms and figures rushing toward the downbeats. The second section is faster and begins with a semblance of fugal imitation, sometimes returning at the end to the tempo and figuration of the first section. The overture to Lully's opera Armide, pronounces this genre.
Some typical French characteristics cannot be seen in the notation but were added in performance. Passages notated in even, short durations, like eighth notes in a bass line, were often rendered by alternating longer notes on the beat with shorter offbeats, producing lilting rhythms like triplets or dotted figures; also called: notes inégales. Think of France's national anthem!
Similar to note inégales, in which a dotted note is held longer than its notated value while the following short note is shortened. This was based on the performer's taste though. These changes emphasize the beats and sharpen the rhythmic profile.
Although the elaborate embellishments of Italian singers were considered in bad taste, reformers were expected to use brief ornaments (called agréments in French), whether notated or not, to adorn cadences and other important notes. This reflected the decorated and elaborate styles of the Baroque period.
Lute style also strongly influenced the texture of harpsichord music. Since lutenists often struck only one note at a time, they sketched in the melody, bass, and harmony by sounding the appropriate tones--now in one register, now in another-- and relying on the listener's imagination to supply the continuity of the various lines. This technique, the style luthé, was imitated by harpsichord composers and became an natural part of French harpsichord style.
Gaultier uses this style in his piece La Coquette Virtuose, where there are many broken chords; whether simply arpeggiated or embellished by neighbor tones, each chord is presented in a different way, creating an irregular, unpredictable, and ever-changing surface depicting straightforward underlying progression.
The Baroque Suite
Dances were composed for social dancing, for theatrical spectacles, and in stylized form for chamber music for lute, keyboard, or ensemble. Dance music was so central to musical life that dance rhythms permeated other instrumental and vocal music, secular and sacred alike.
The idea of linking two or three dances together, such as pavane and galliard, was now extended to create a suite of several dances, used either for dancing or as chamber music.
French composers often grouped a series of stylized dances into a suite, as did their German counterparts. The tempo and rhythm contributed to the character of each dance.
Jacquet de la Guerre's Suite No.3 in A Minor from her Pièces de Clavecin shows both the structure of a typical suite and the most common types of dance. All but two moments, the prelude and a chacconne, are in binary form. Although none of the movements would have been used for dancing, the steps and associations of the dances were known to the listeners and influenced thy rhythm and style of the music.
Baroque Suite: Prelude
Many suites begin with a prelude in the style of a toccata or other abstract work. De la Guerre uses an unmeasured prelude to his Suite no.3 in A Minor. The unmeasured prelude is a distinctively French genre whose non metric notation allows great rhythmic freedom, as if improvising. De la Guerre uses whole note arpeggios, slow melodic passages, and sustained notes within this piece.
Baroque Suite: Allemande
The allemande (French for "German"), no longer danced in the 17th century and the highly stylized, was usually in a moderately fast beginning with an upbeat. In the allemande to De la Guerre's Suite no.3 in A Minor, all voices participate in almost continuous movement, and agréments appear often. Signs of the style luthé include opening arpeggiation of the tonic chord in the bass and staggered rhythms between the voices.
Baroque Suite: Courante
The courante also begins with an upbeat but is in a moderate triple or compound meter, or shifts between the two. The steps were dignified, with a bend of the knees on the upbeat and a rise on the beat, often followed by a glide or step.
Baroque Suite: Sarabande
The sarabande was originally a quick, lascivious (a feeling of offensive sexual desire) type of dance-song form Central America, accompanied by guitar and percussion. It came across the Atlantic to Spain in the late 16th century and was the most popular dance there for decades, then spread to Italy and France. In France, it lost its associations with the New World and was transformed into a slow, dignified dance in triple meter with an emphasis on the second beat, especially seen in De la Guerre's saraband movement of his Suite no.3 in A Minor. The melodic rhythm in the first measure is especially common.
Baroque Suite: Gigue
The gigue originated in the British Isles as a fast solo dance with rapid footwork. In France it became stylized as a movement in fast compound meter with wide melodic leaps and continuous lively triplets. Sections often begin with fugal or an imitation like style, such as De la Guerre does in the Gigue movement of his Suite no.3 in A Minor.
Baroque Suite: Chacconne in Rondeau Form
Numerous other dances could also appear within the Suite. De la Guerre continues after the gigue within his Suite no.3 in A Minor with a chaconne in rondeau form, a form that alternates with a series of contrasting periods called couplets, then returns to close the movement.
Baroque Suite: Rondeau - Couplets
Featured in the rondeau form, the couplet is a refrain alternating with a series of contrasting periods.
Baroque Suite: Gavotte
In De la Guerre's Suite no.3 in A Minor, after the chacconne movement, which succeeds the gigue movement, comes the gavotte. The gavotte movement is a duple-time dance with a half-measure upbeat and a characteristic rhythm of short-short-longgg.
Baroque Suite: Minuet
The suite ends with a minuet, an elegant couple dance in moderate triple meter, as seen in De la Guerre's minuet movement of his Suite no.3 in A Minor. The dance used various patterns of four steps within each two-measure unit.
Da Capo Aria
The form takes its name from the words "Da capo" (from the head) placed at the close of the second section, instructing the performers to return to the beginning of the aria and preheat the first section producing a ternary ABA form. Typically, the A section includes two different settings of the same text framed by instrumental ritornellos.
The da capo aria became the standard aria form in the 18th century for opera and cantata alike because it offered great flexibility in expression. Singers typically add embellishments on the repetition of the A section to reestablish the ornamented idea of departure and return.
The A section features two vocal statements, each a setting of the first stanza of poetry, and each is typically preceded and followed by a brief instrumental ritornello. The first vocal statement modulates from the tonic to another key, and the second vocal statement modulates back to the tonic. In each case, the following ritornello confirms the new key.
The B section sets the second stanza once or twice but typically lacks the orchestral ritornellos that punctuate the A section. To emphasize the contrasting ideas between the two stanzas, the B section is in one or more contrasting keys and introduces new or varied musial material. Then the A section is repeated.
The precise structure can vary, as illustrated by Scarlatti's Si, si ben bio from his cantata Clori Vezzosa, e bella.
The harmonies, including the dim7th chords, are used to express emotions.
The most common instrumentation after 1670 for both church and chamber sonatas was two treble instruments, usually violins, with basso continuo. This kind of work is called a trio sonata because of its three-part texture, but a performance can feature four or more players if more than one is used for the basso continuo, such as a cello performing the baseline and a harpsichord, organ, or lute doubling the bass and filling in the chords by realizing the figured bass. The texture found in the trio sonata, with two high melody lines over basso continuo, served many other types of solo music, both vocal and instrumental.
Arcangelo Corelli, a leading composer for trio sonatas, emphasized lyricism over virtuosity. He rarely used extremely high or low notes, fast runs, or difficult double stops. The two violins, treated exactly alike, frequently cross and exchange music, interlocking in suspensions that give his work a decisive forward momentum. In Corelli's first movement of his Trio Sonata in D Major, Op.3 No.2 K119, the grave movement, features a walking bass, with steadily moving patterns of eighth notes, under a descending sequence in the bass; and a dialogue between the violins as they leapfrog over each other to progressively higher peaks.
Trio Sonata: Sonata da Camera
Corelli's chamber sonatas usually begin with a prelude, after which two or three dances may follow as in the French suite. Often the first two movements resemble those of a church sonata, a slow movement and a fugal allegro. Some of the first movements feature dotted rhythms, recalling the French overture. The dance movements are almost always in binary form, with each section repeated, the first section closing on the dominant or relative major and the second making its way back to the tonic. Rather than sharing an almost equal role as in the church sonatas, the bass line in the chamber sonatas in almost pure accompaniment.
Trio Sonata: Sonata da Chiesa
Most of Corelli's church trio sonatas consist of four movements, often in two paris, in the order slow-fast-slow-fast. Although there are many exceptions to this pattern, it gradually became a norm for Corelli and later composers. The first slow movement typically has a contrapuntal texture and a majestic, solemn character. The Allegro that follows normally features fugal imitation, with the bass line a full participant. The movement is the musical center of gravity for the church sonata, and it retains elements of the canzona in its use of imitation, of a subject with a marked rhythmic character, and of variation of later entrances of the subject. The subsequent slow movement most often resembles a lyric, operatic duet in trip meter. The fast final movement usually features dancelike rhythms and often is in binary form. All of these traits are true in Correli's Trio Sonata Op.3 No.2 in D Major (attached example is the second movement, the Allegro). The opening of the second movement features exact imitation between first violin and bass and inversion in the second violin; the third movement, in the relative minor, is songlike with some imitation; and the finale is an imitative gigue in binary form whose subject often appears in inversion, as in the second movement.
Toward the end of the seventeenth century, musicians began to distinguish between music for chamber ensemble, with only one instrument for each melodic line, and music for orchestra, in which each string part was performed by two or more players. Louis XIII of France established a string ensemble, essentially the first orchestra, with four to six players per part.
For special occasions in Rome, Corelli often led a "pick-up" orchestra of forty or more, gathered from players employed by patrons throughout the city. While some pieces, like the overtures, dances, and interludes of Lully's operas, were clearly intended for orchestra, and others, like Corelli's solo violin sonatas, could be played only as chamber music, a good deal of 17th and early 18th century music could be performed either way. For instance, on a festive occasion or in a large hall, each line of a trio sonata might be played by several performers.
Baroque Instrumental Concerto
In the late 16th century, composers created a new kind of orchestral composition that soon helped establish the orchestra as the leading instrumental ensemble. In the long-standing tradition of adapting old terms to new uses, the new genre was also called the concerto. Like the vocal concerto, it united contrasting forces into a harmonious whole, in an instrumental version of the concertato medium. It combined the texture with other traits favored at the time: florid melody over a firm bass; musical organization based on tonality; and multiple movements with contrasting tempos, moods, and figuration. Concertos were closely related to sonatas and served many of the same roles: they were played at public ceremonies, entertainments, and private musical gatherings, and they could substitute for elements of the Mass.
The orchestra concerto was a work in several movements that emphasized the first violin part and the bass, distinguishing the concerto form the more contrapuntal texture characteristic of the sonata. The other two types systematically played on the contrast in sonority between many instruments and one or only a few.
The concerto gross set a small ensemble (concertino), of solo instruments against a large ensemble (concerto gross). The concertino normally comprised two violins accompanied by cello and continuo, the same forces needed to play a trio sonata, although other solo string or wind instruments might be added or substituted. In essence, a concerto gross resembles an ensemble sonata in which some passages are reinforced with multiple player on each part. The most common type of concerto contrasts one or more solo instruments with the large ensemble. The large group was almost always a string orchestra, usually divided into first and second violins, violas, and cellos, with basso continuo and bass viol either doubling the cellos or separate. In both the concerto gross and the concerto for one or more soloists, the full orchestra was designated tutti (all) or ripieno (full).
Tutti or Ripieno
In the score of a concerto grosso, the full orchestra would be signaled in with the words tutti, which means all (all the players in the orchestra play their part), or ripieno (the full orchestra plays their parts).
Before the Concerto Style
The practice of contrasting solo instruments against a full orchestra goes back to Lully operas, where some of the dances included episodes for solo wind trio; to oratorio and opera arias by Stradella; and to sonatas for solo trumpets with string orchestra, popular in Bologna and Venice. The melodic style idiomatic to the natural Trumpet, marked by triads, scales, and repeated notes, was imitated by the strings and became characteristic of concertos.
Since Roman orchestras were typically divided between concertino and ripieno, Roman composers favored the concerto grosso. Corelli's Concerti Grossi, Op.6 is essentially a series of trio sonatas, divided between soli and tutti. The larger group echoes the smaller, fortifies cadential passages, or otherwise punctuates the structure through doublings. Corelli's approach was widely imitated by later composers in Italy, England, and Germany.
In the fast movements of his violin concertos, Torelli often used a form that resembles and may have been modeled on the structure of the A section of a da capo aria. There are two extended passages for the soloist, framed by a ritornello that appears at the beginning and end of the movement and recurs, in abbreviated form and in a different key, between the two solo passages. The solos present entirely new material, often exploiting the virtuosity of the soloist, and modulate to closely related keys, providing contrast and variety. The return of the ritornello then offers stability and resolution.
Composers wrote fugues both as independent pieces and as sections within preludes and toccatas. By the end of the 17th century, twas increasingly the designation for pieces in imitative counterpoint (other than strict canons), like the ricercare, fantasia, capriccio, and other terms. Fugue subjects tend to have a more sharply chiseled melodic character and a livelier rhythm than ricercare themes. As in the ricercare, independent voices enter with the theme in turn. In a fugue a set of these entries is called an exposition.
Bach's Fugue in A Minor, BWV 543, features these ideas.
Fugue subjects tend to have a more sharply chiseled melodic character and a livelier rhythm than ricercare themes. As in the ricercare, independent voices enter with the theme in turn. In a fugue, a set of these entries is called an exposition.
If the first entrance of the subject begins on the tonic note, the second entrance, referred to as the answer, normally begins on the dominant, and vice vera. Often the intervals of the answer are modified to fit the key. The other voices then alternate subject and answer. After a cadence, there are several more points of imitation, each differentiated from the others by the order of entries, pitch level, or some other aspect.
17th century fugues may have short episodes--periods of free counterpoint between statements of the subject.
Ritornellos for the full orchestra alternate with episodes for the soloist or soloists.
The opening ritornello is composed of several small units, typically two to four measures in length, some of which may be repeated or varied. These segments can be separated from each other or combined in new ways without losing their identity as the ritornello.
- Later statements of the ritornello are usually partial, comprising only one or some of the units, sometimes varied.
- The ritornellos are guideposts to the tonal structure of the music, confirming the keys to which the music modulates. The first and last statements are in the tonic: at least (usually the first to be in a new key) is in the dominant: and others may be in closely related keys.
- The solo episodes are virtuosic, idiomatic playing, sometimes repeating or varying elements from the ritornello, but often presenting scales, arpeggiations, or other figuration. Many episodes modulate to a new key, which is then confirmed by the following ritornello. Sometimes the soloist interrupts or plays some part of the closing ritornello.
- These points are illustrated by the two fast movements in Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A Minor, op.3 no.6. Each of the segments have a strong character that makes it easy to remember. Each is separate harmonic unit, enabling Vivaldi to separate and recombine the segments later on. In both movements, later statements of the ritornello are only partial, and some vary motives from the original ritornello, as do some of the solo episodes. One ritornello in the finale even changes keys, which in most movements only happens during episodes. New figurations are introduced in the episodes, providing even more variety within a clearly understood structure; one passage exploits the open strings of the violin for impressive leaps. Typical of Vivaldi, the alternations between tutti and solo does not stop when the music returns to the tonic near the end of the movement in the first movement, episodes appear between successive nuts of the ritornello, and in the finale, the orchestra and soloist alternate in presenting segments of the final ritornello.
- The result in each case is a movement unique in form, yet the overall strategy is clearly the same. Far from following a textbook plan, Vivaldi's ritornello structures show almost infinite variety in form and content.
- Vivaldi was the first concerto composer to make the slow movements as important as the fast ones. His slow movement is typically a long-breathed expressive, canticle melody, like an adagio operatic aria or arioso, to whose already rich figuration the performer was expected to add embellishments. Some slow movements are through-composed, and others use a simplified ritornello or two-part form. The slow movements in Op.3 No.6 is unusual in that the bass instruments and continuo are silent, and the soloist is accompanied only by the upper strings playing sustained tones.
A strict (contrapuntal) style is the one in which the composer follows all the rules of harmony and modulation in the strictest manner, mixing in artful imitations and many tied notes, working out the theme carefully, and the like, in short, allowing more art to be heard than euphony. In the free (galant) manner of composition, the composer is not so slavishly bound to the rules of harmony, modulation, and the like. He often permits bold changes, which could even be contrary to the generally accepted rules of modulation, assuming that the composer in doing this proceeds with proper insight and judgement, and with it is able to attain a certain goal. In general, the free style of writing has more expression and euphony rather than art as its chief purpose.
Despite its French name, the galant style originated in Italian operas and concertos. This term was most commonly used to describe the new style in music (and the arts) in the early Classical era for being modern, chic, smooth, easy, and sophisticated.
A close relative of the galant style was the empfindsamer Stile (German for "sentimental style") or empfindsam style. Characterized by surprising turns of harmony, chromaticism, nervous rhythms, and rhapsodically free, speech like melody, the empfindsam style is most closely associated with fantasias and slow movements by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (Bach's son). Yet it too, originated in Italy and is evident in some late concertos of Vivaldi.
Another important type of Italian comic opera was the intermezzo, a comedy that was performed in two or three segments between the acts of a serious opera or play. The genre originated in Naples and Venice in the early 18th century when comic scenes were purged from serious operas, and the comic characters were given their own separate story in the intermezzo. These intermezzi contrasted sharply with the grand and heroic manners of the principal drama, sometimes even parodying its excesses. The plots usually presented two or three people in comic situations, and the action proceeded in alternating recitatives and arias, as in serious opera. Because of their role as adjunct to serious opera, intermezzos were accepted by aristocratic patrons and were performed at court as well as in public opera houses.
In Giovanni Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona, the dialogue is rendered in simple recitative, accompanied only by the harpsichord and usually a sustain bass instrument, with the words set to lively, speech like rhythms over freely modulating harmonies. In the da capo aria of this intermezzo, neither the main nor the middle section develops a single musical motive, as in a Scarlatti or Handel aria. Rather, there are many melodic ideas as there are shifting thoughts and moods in the text. Pergolesi's depiction of character and emotion through simple, highly contrasting melodic ideas over light accompaniment made his music particularly successful and influential.
An Italian opera buffa (comic opera) was a full-length work with six or more singing characters and was sung throughout, unlike comic operas in other countries. Plots centered on ordinary people in the present day, in contrast to the stories from myth or history in serious opera. Opera buffa was at first staged in public theaters and aimed at a primarily middle-class audience, and only gradually gained aristocratic patrons. It entertained and served a moral purpose by caricaturing the foibles of aristocrats and commoners, vain ladies, miserly old men, awkward and clever servants, deceitful husbands and wives, pedantic lawyers, bungling physicians, and pompous military commanders. A comic cast could often be complemented by serious characters around whom the main plot revolved and who interacted with the comic characters, particularly in amorous intrigues. The dialogue was set in rapidly delivered recit', accompanied by continuo, often keyboard alone.
Opera seria treated serious subjects without comic scenes or characters. opera seri a received its standard form from the Italian poet Pietro Metastasio. His heroic stories operas present conflicts of human passions, often pitting love against duty, in stories based on ancient Greek or Latin tales. His operas were intended to promote morality through entertainment and to present models of merciful and enlightened rulers, in tune with Enlightenment thought.
Johann Adolf Hasse was one of the most popular and successful opera composers in Europe around the middle of the century. He was acknowledged by most of his contemporaries as the great master of the opera seria. A famous aria from his opera seria Cleofide (Digli ch 'io son fedele "tell him that I am faithful") illustrates the elegant and judicious qualities of his music. In the first vocal statement, Hasse set the opening lines with a graceful motive that follows the natural rhythms and inflections of the text, highlight the parallelism between the first two lines, and reflects the earnest optimism of Cleofide, the queen of India. Hasse introduces syncopations, scales, and reverse-dotted rhythms which gently destabilize the elements that give the melody interest and expressively without sacrificing elegance.
War of the Buffoons
PItted advocates of Opera buffa against those who considered it an affront to the opera tradition. The debate started with the Parisian premiere of La serva padrona. King Louis XV and his conservative followers sought to uphold the French tradition of the tragédie lyrique. Their opponents supported the opera buffa model because it was a new, lighter style of music in France.
The native French version of light opera, known as opéra comique, had begun in the early 18th century as a popular entertainment put on at suburban parish fairs. At midcentury, the music consisted almost entirely of popular tunes, known as vaudevilles, or simple melodies imitating such tunes. The presence of Italian comic opera stimulated the production of opéras comiques in which original airs (called ariettes) in a mixed Italian-French style were introduced along with older vaudevilles. The vaudevilles were gradually replaced by the ariettes until just after the midcentury when all the music in an opéra comique was freshly composed. Like all the national variants of light opera except the Italian, French opéra comique used spoken dialogue instead of recitative.
In England, the popular form of opera in the local language was ballad opera. Like the early opéra comique, a ballad opera consisted of spoken dialogue interspersed with songs that set new words to borrowed tunes, including folk songs and dances, popular songs, and well-known airs and arias from other works for the stage. The fashion for ballad operas peaked in the early on in the century but continued to be composed and staged several decades in Britain, and its North American colonies, and later in the United States. Over time, ballad opera composers borrowed less and wrote more original music, in a development parallel to that of opéra comique.
The genre was spawned by the success of The Beggar's Opera, with libretto by John Gay and music arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch. The poetry and music sometimes spoofed opera or used operatic conventions to create humor through incongruous juxtapositions.
War of the Buffoons
William Billings, one of the most prominent composers of church music in the early 18th century, wrote a book with 108 psalm and hymn settings and 16 anthems and canons for chorus. This was the first published collection of music entirely composed in North America and the first music-book published in North American devoted to a single composer.. Most of Billing's settings were "plain tunes", homophonic four-part harmonizations of his newly invented melodies. His later collections though, showed a preference for fudging tunes, like his Creation piece. These tunes usually open with a syllabic and homophonic section, then feature a passage in free imitation before closing with voices joined gain in homophony.
Simple Binary Form
Many Classical forms are based on binary form, which features two sections (AB), each repeated, the first usually moving from tonic to dominant or relative major and the second returning to the tonic. Binary form originated as a form for dances, reaching prominence in the dances and dance suites of the Baroque.
The Keyboard Suites No.3 in A Minor by Denis Gaultier use simple binary form, in which the two sections are roughly equal in length and feature musical material that is different or only loosely related.
Balanced Binary Form
In the 18th century, composers sought to emphasize the arrival on the dominant in the first section and the retune to the tonic in the second section producing the new types of binary form. One common strategy was to present new material in the dominant at the end of the first section and to repeat it in the tonic at the end of the second section, like a musical rhyme that serves to confirm the return to the home key. Such an approach heightens the contrast between tonic and dominant by associating different musical ideas from each and then resolves the harmonic tension by repeating the tonic material that first appeared in another key. This pattern, called balanced binary form, appears in François Couperin's La Music Victorieuse and is typical of Domenico Scarlatti's sonatas.
Rounded Binary Form
Rounded binary form highlights the return to the tonic in the second section by repeating the material that opened the first section. The double return of the opening key and opening material lends a strong sense of closure. Minuets often feature this form, as do the minuet in De la Guerre's Suite No.3 in A Minor.
The strategies in binary forms that emphasize the return to the tonic--reprising the opening idea and restating in the tonic material that first appeared in the dominant--are join in t the form now known as sonata form. This first-movement form was the most common form of the sonata's first movement, chamber work, or symphony in the Classic period. Since the 19th century, this form has been viewed primarily in terms of themes arranged in a three-part structure, but eighteenth-century writers understood it as a two-part form organized by phrase structure and harmony.
Sonata Form: Koch
Heinrich Christoph Koch's 'Introductory Essay on Composition" built his discussions of phrases and periods. He describes first-movement form as an expanded version of binary form. There are two large sections, each of which may be repeated, the first moving from tonic to dominant (or relative major in a minor key), the second returning to the tonic. The first section has one main period, the second section has two.
- In the first section, the principal ideas are presented, organized in a series of four phrases: the first two in the tonic; the third modulating to the dominant or relative major (often closing with a half-cadence in the new key); and the fourth in the new key, confirmed by an optional "appendix" phrase.
- The first period of the second section may consist of any number of phrases. It often begins with the opening them on the dominant, occasionally with another idea or in another key; moves through one or more keys by means of another melodic idea, ending on the dominant chord as preparation for the return of the tonic.
- The second period of the second section begins and ends on the tonic. It typically parallels the first sec ion and four the most part restates the same material, except that the third phrase ends on a half-cadence in the tonic, and the fourth phrase and appendix are now in the tonic. Thus in most sonata-form movements, the return to the tonic in the second section is signaled by the return of the opening theme and emphasized by the restatement in the home key of the material first presented in the dominant, combining aspects of rounded and balanced binary form.
Sonata form: 19th Century Terms - exposition
An exposition, usually repeated, with a first theme or group of themes in the tonic; a transition to the dominant or relative major; a second, often more lyrical theme or group in the new key; and a closing theme or cadential reinforcement in the same key.
Sonata form: 19th Century Terms - development
A development section, in which motives or themes from the exposition are presented in new aspects or combinations, and which modulates through a variety of keys and then works its way back toward the tonic to close on the dominant chord. The passage leading to and emphasizing the dominant is called the retransition.
Sonata form: 19th Century Terms - recapitulation
A recapitulation, restates the material of the exposition in the original order but with all themes in the tonic.
Slow-movement sonata form
Many slow movements use a variant of sonata form that omits the first period of the second section and has no repeats, but otherwise follows Koch's model; this has been called slow-movement sonata form, or sonata form without development.
Variations form, used in some slow movements, presents a small binary form (or sometimes a single period) as a theme, followed by serval embellished variants.
Minuet and Trio form
Minuet and trio form, often present in quartets and symphonies, joins two binary-form minuets, repeating the fist after playing the second (the trio) to produce an ABA pattern.
Rondo form, common in last movements, presents a small binary form or single period as a theme, then alternates it with other periods called dpisodes, which are usually in other keys, in a pattern such as ABACA or ABACADA.
Concerto first-movement form
The first movement of a typical concerto retained elements of the ritornello form of Baroque concertos, which alternates orchestral ritornellos with episodes that feature the soloist, in combination with the contrasts of key and thematic material characteristic of sonata form. As Koch describes the form, there are three solo sections, structured in a way that is equivalent to the three main periods of sonata form. These sections are enclosed between four orchestral ritornellos; the first presents all or most of the main ideas while the others are relatively short. In essence, the concerto first movement is a sonata form framed by a ritornello form.
J.C. Bach's Concerto for Harpsichord or Piano and Strings in Eb Major, Op.7 No.5, has Baroque traits by alternating ritornellos and episodes, yet the thrtee solo 'episodes,' in which the pianist takes the lead and the orchestra provides accompaniment and punctuation, have the shape of an exposition, development, and recapitulation of a sonata. The only long ritornello is the first, which introduces most of the movement's material in the tonic; in some modern views of concerto first-movement form, this is called the "orchestral exposition," followed by the "solo exposition" in the first episode. The later ritornellos can use any element from the first one, and here Bach mostly uses the closing theme. As is often the case, both the transition and the description in one significant aspect: the next-to-last ritornello is replaced by a brief orchestral articulation.
Concerto first-movement form: Cadenza
By J.C. Bach's time, it had become a tradition for the soloist to play a cadenza, usually improvised, just before the final orchestral ritornello. The cadenza had developed from the trills and runs that singers inserted, particularly before the return of the opening section in the da capo aria. By convention, concerto cadenzas are typically introduced by a weighty 6/4 church, and the soloist signals the orchestra to reenter by playing a long trill over a dominant chord.
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