Baroque and Classical Music Characteristics

Characteristics (Baroque)

The first excerpt of the recording began with a deep bass line, then we heard a melody over the bass line. This type of bass line accompanying the melody is called basso continuo. The second excerpt, we heard the contrast of loud/soft between the instruments playing the music. Baroque music aims to create contrast: between groups of big and small instruments, instruments with different timbres, vocal and instrumental sections, slow and fast movements, or – like in the music we heard – alternating extreme dynamics. This musical style based on contrast is called stile concitato. The third excerpt gives a sensation of movement accompanied by a very mechanical rhythm. This movement effect was created in the Baroque using a very regular and marked pulse, and the execution of very fast rhythmic formulas, especially in instrumental music. In this period, the concept of meter appears. Meter refers to the sequence of strong and weak beats that structure rhythm.

Secular Vocal Music (Baroque)

Origin was camera florentino (Count Bardi) retake Greek classical theatre. Mythological subject. New texture: Melody with accompaniment, so action could be formed. Parts: 1. Instrumental – overture (instrumental introduction) or interture (middle instrumental opera) 2. Vocal – arias (way in which singers perform in the most intensive parts of action. They show their voice techniques and they can shine) or recitativo (semi-declaimed parts, accompanied by the basso continuo for the secondary parts of the action) Chorus: serious opera and opera buffa. Passions (are oratories that tell about the passionate death of Jesus Christ based on the New Testament, most importantly St. Matthew’s passion by J.S. Bach).

Sacred Vocal Music (Baroque)

New genres also appeared in religious music in the Baroque period, including the oratorio and the cantata. These genres were used by different churches as vehicles to transmit their doctrines. Oratorios are religious stories expressed in music. They are normally based on texts from the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. Oratorios are different from opera because they are not acted out on stage like theatre. They are simply performed by an orchestra, choir, and soloists who narrate the story without any decoration or action.

Instrumental Music (Baroque)

Instrumental music became totally independent from vocal music. Instrumental music improved. Composers wrote music specially for particular instruments, creating purely instrumental genres such as the concerto, suite, fugue, and the sonata. A) The Concerto: the term concerto may come from the Italian concertare, which means compete or rival. The name makes sense because this instrumental genre is like a rivalry between different groups of instruments. Concerto grosso – rivalry or musical dialogue between a small group of instruments, called concertino, and the orchestra, or tutti. Corelli and Handel were important composers in this genre. The concerto grosso disappeared at the end of the Baroque period because the solo concerto became much more important. Solo concerto – a dialogue between one or two instruments and the orchestra. Torelli, Vivaldi, and Bach were important composers of this form. The solo concerto is still a popular compositional form in modern times. R = ritornello = chorus played by the tutti. 1. Fast 2. Slow 3. Fast r-s-r-s-r-s. B) The Suite. The other important instrumental genre of the Baroque was the dance suite, a series of dances. Sonata: instrumental form in 4 contrasting movements for 1 or 2 instruments basso continuo – Bach. Fugue: complex instrumental form using counterpoint – Bach.

Characteristics (Classical)

1. Balance, proportion, and symmetry of musical elements: rhythm, melody, and harmony. 2. In this period, melodies are easy to understand and memorize because they are structured in a more balanced way. Melodies have a question structure with an equal number of bars. 3. Harmonies are simpler and the predominant texture is melody with accompaniment.

Introduction (Classical)

Classical music is the style of music developed during the second half of the 18th century. The three most important composers from the period are Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. The music of the Classical period has proportion, balance, and symmetry. The melody above is divided into symmetrical semi-phrases of four bars each. The two semi-phrases have identical rhythms. The harmony is also symmetrical.

Secular Vocal Music (Classical)

Opera continued to be the most important secular vocal form in the Classical period. Opera had more popular themes than in the Baroque period. The music was simple and easy for ordinary people to understand. An example of this is Mozart’s opera Le Nozze di Figaro. A variant on the opera form called opera buffa appears in the Classical period. It is based on a German genre called singspiel. The comic style of opera buffa is very popular with the general public. Mozart: 1. Serious opera (Don Giovanni) 2. Opera buffa (Le Nozze di Figaro) 3. Singspiel (The Magic Flute).

Sacred Vocal Music (Classical)

Composers continued to write oratorios, like Haydn’s Creation. Masses like Mozart’s Mass in C Minor also continue to be popular in this period. The requiem mass is a specific mass for the dead. This genre is immortalized in the Classical by Mozart’s grandiose Requiem in D minor.