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Chapter 8: Prelude: The Late Baroque Period

Style Features of Late Baroque Music

Key Terms
• • • • • walking bass harmonic rhythm basic orchestra festive orchestra sequence • • • • • ornamentation ritornellos continuo figured bass affects

Style Features of Late Baroque Music
• extravagance
– large-scale works for large ensembles – intense, dramatic emotional expression

• control
– thorough, methodical expression – extracting maximum effect from material – uniting many elements to depict a single emotion

Rhythm
• highly regular, determined motion • distinctive rhythms against a steady beat
– freer rhythms in upper voices – walking bass

• steady harmonic rhythm

Dynamics
• rarely indicated; usually steady • dramatic contrast preferred
– either loud or soft (f or p) – change at end of entire section, if at all

• performers still created subtle nuances

Tone Color
• new interest in sonority
– distinctive Baroque sounds and instruments – idiomatic writing—taking advantage of unique color of each instrument

• flexibility
– works ―for violin or oboe or flute‖ – rewriting earlier works for different performing forces

Basic Baroque Orchestra
a string orchestra with continuo

Festive Baroque Orchestera
augments the basic with brass, woodwinds, and percussion

Melody
• tends toward complexity and difficulty
– extended range – variety of rhythmic note values – intricate, unpredictable twists and turns – irregular phrase lengths

• frequent use of sequence for forward motion

Ornamentation
• addition of fast notes, motives, or effects to a melody
– cadenzas; chording continuo instruments

• improvised during performance
– sometimes written down to guide lesser performers – even simple tunes lavishly ornamented

Texture
• standard Baroque texture is polyphonic
– sometimes homophonic texture, for contrast only

• dense orchestral works use many moving contrapuntal lines • simple works for solo and continuo still feel contrapuntal (active bass)

The Continuo
• provides framework and support for melody and polyphony
– bass line played by cello or bass viol – chords played by keyboard or plucked strings

• creates ―polarized‖ texture • often written as figured bass

Playing the Continuo
• bass line played with left hand • chords improvised with right hand • chords ―realized‖ in simple or complex manner, according to ability

Baroque Musical Form
• more standardized formal patterns
– fugue, ritornello, dance form, etc. – easier to compose on demand for patrons

• patterns filled in orderly, logical manner
– entire fugues constructed from single theme – often symmetrical ordering of movements

• meant to sustain rich musical experience over long time span

Emotional Expression
• powerful yet impersonal • Baroque composers thought music should
– mirror a wide range of emotions (affects). – depict those emotions consistently. – take on a theatrical quality.

Affects
• Scientists studied and classified emotions. • Composers catalogued musical elements for each ―affect.‖
– keys: D minor = serious; E minor = pathos, etc. – melodic and rhythmic figures – instrumental and vocal types and genres