The Different Genres of Baroque Music
Firstly lets learn more about the Baroque Orchestra
The Baroque Orchestra:
During the baroque period, the orchestra evolved into a performing group based on instruments of the violin family. By modern standard, the baroque orchestra was small consisting of ten to thirty players. The orchestra is also extremely flexible and could vary from piece to piece.
The nucleus of the baroque orchestra is in the basso continuo (It is commonly made up of the cello or the harpsichord.) and the strings. Use of woodwind, brass and percussion were variable.
The development and standardisation of the modern orchestra occur between 1600 and 1750. In the first major opera, Orfeo (1607), the Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi used an orchestra having a central string section accompanied by other instruments and by basso continuo. During the 1600s, orchestras became common not only in opera performances but as ensembles maintained by noble families for private concerts. By the early 18th century the combination of first and second violins, violas, cellos, and double basses had become standard for the strings; and a pair of oboes or flutes or both and a bassoon were usually added. A harpsichord or an organ normally supplied chords for the basso continuo part. The newly invented clarinet was added to the orchestra about the middle of the 18th century, and pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons, and clarinets became common. The coiled hunting horn also entered the orchestra, used to create an atmosphere of the hunt and to give added volume and richness. Trumpets and timpani, previously the prerogative of the nobility, were sometimes used when an opera or cantata text insinuated royalty; later, trumpets were added for brilliance. Trombones, used for centuries in church music and municipal bands, entered the opera orchestra in the late 18th century and the symphony orchestra in the early 19th century. In the late 18th century the basso continuo fell out of use and the keyboard instrument dropped out. Its role in filling in the harmonies was taken by the horns. A vogue for imitating Turkish military music introduced the triangle, cymbals, and bass drum. The tuba entered the orchestra only in the 19th century, a result of technological experimenting with brass instruments. Its predecessors had been the serpent (an S-shaped wood horn with finger holes) and the ophicleide (keyed bass bugle). Until the late 18th century, orchestras tended to have 20-30 members
The Concerto Grosso:
A basic principal of baroque music is the contrst between the loud and soft sounds of the register. This principle governs the concerto grosso where a small group of soloists pit against a large group of orchetra. The orchestra, in this case, is called the ripieno or the tutti. A concerto grosso presents a contrast of texture between the two opposite sized groups who assert their individuality and appeal for attention with their own unique timbre. Concerto grossi are often played in srostocratic courts in private orchestras.
The Concerto grosso consists of several movements that contrast in tempo and character. the three movements are usually in this order, fast, slow, fast. The opening movement is usually vigourous and determined, clearly showing the contrast between the soloist and the orchestra. The slow movement in the middle, is quieter than the first often lyrical and intimate. Thet last movement is carefree and sometimes, dancelike.
The first and last movement is often based on the ritornello form. The tutti will begin with the ritornello theme this theme, always played by the tutti were come back very often, mostly in fragments. Only at the end of the movement does the whole complete ritornello returns.
In the middle of these ritornellos, short solo section played by the soloist occurs. In comparison to the ritornellos the solo passages are made up of fresh melodic ideas, softer dnamicsm rapid scaled an broken chords.
A brief outline of the ritornello from:
1)Tutti, ritornello in the home key
3)Tutti, ritornello fragment
Suggested Listening: Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos
A fugue is written for a group of instruments like organ or harpsichord. A fugue is a polyphonic composition base don one main theme called a subject. Throughout a fugue, different melodic lines or voices imitate the subject. The top melodic line is hte soprano while the bottom is the bass. a fugue's texture includes three or four voices. Though the subject remains mainly the same throughout, it takes on new meaning wjen shifted to different keys or combined with different melodic and rhythmic ideas.
The form of a fugue is extremely flexible. the only formula that links the fugues together is that composers prefer stating the subject in a single unaccompanied voice tohighlight the subject to the listeners. The subject is in turn imitated by all the rest of the voices.
In a layman's term, the fugue is an accompanied canon.
Some "fugal" terms:
1) Subject : the theme that is first stated by a solo voice without accompaniment
2)Answer: The second voice that states the subject a fifth higher
3) Countersubject : A different melodic idea that opposes the subject. It may be stated with the subject.
4)Episodes: Little transitional section between presentations of the subject. They offer new fragments or reiterate that of the subject or counter subject.
Several musical procedures commonly appear in fugues. One is the stretto in which a subject is imitated before it is being completed. Another common procedure is pedal point which is a single tone, usually in the bass while others produce a series of changing harmonies.
A Fugue subject can be treated in four different ways.
1) Inversion:Where the subject is turned upside down.
2)Retrograde: Where the music is flipped back to front, front to back.
3) Augmentation: Whent the time values of the notes are lengthen
4)Diminution: When the time values are diminished.
Very often, the fugue is preceded by a prelude. Fugues can be written as a single composition or be included in a larger composition.
Suggested Listening: Johann Sebastian Bach