Baroque Music Characteristics

1 January 2017

The invention of several forms of music came about in the 17th century i. e. opera, sonata, concerto, suite, fugue, oratorio * Use of improvisation increased during this era, although it was an important change to instrumental musical it also caused problems when musicians attempted to full understand and perform Baroque music precisely * Unity of mood – baroque music is unique for its principle of mood throughout a piece. Composers form certain musical language and rhythmic patterns to define relative moods and expressions Rhythm – the continuity of rhythm further portrays the unity of mood within a baroque piece.

A relentless drive of rhythmic patterns is prominent through the entirety of a piece and is rarely ever interrupted * Texture – music composed during the late baroque period is most often polyphonic in texture. This means that two more melodic lines compete for the audiences’ attention * Predominantly contrapuntal. However, counterpoint was harmonically oriented * It was extremely common and usual to find close imitation between lines and for the soprano and bass lines to be more dominant within a piece Melody – with the rise of the baroque period, the idea of melody and harmony began to be become more articulated

Composers of this era chose to steer away from the complex polyphonic form which thrived during the 15th and 16th centuries, instead they opted for a monody ( single voice with very simple accompaniment) * Along with the introduction of the monody also came basso continuo or figured bass. This was a method or way of notating music where the music is performed by one or more bass instruments as wells as a keyboard instrument

The basso continuo established a new found importance for bass lines in the area of ensemble music Thematic variation – appeared in all areas of instrumental music. Sequencing: repetition of melody patterns on successively higher or lower pitches * Dynamics – the dynamics within a Baroque piece remains fairly constant for a fair duration of time before it shifts to another level, known an terraced dynamics. The shifting of dynamics is often imagined as a sudden physical step up the stairs. * Distinction between the chamber ensemble and the orchestra began to surface during the late 17th century.

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