Baroque Keyboard Composition

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Baroque Keyboard Composition



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My composition in baroque style

In a work of program music such as a symphonic poem , each movement is typically named according to the imagery associated with the music e. Scene in the Country , Tortoises. Sometimes a multi-movement work is called a suite e. The orchestra emerged in the Baroque era, serving initially as accompaniment for opera. As opera developed and expanded, so did the orchestra.

In addition to its main role accompaniment of singers , the orchestra came to provide instrumental passages in the course of an opera. Such passages include the overture at the beginning , interludes between scenes , and accompaniment for dance sequences. Independent orchestral music was born when these instrumental passages especially overtures came to be performed as standalone works. The symphony was born when standalone orchestral music was extended into multiple movements. The term "symphony" did not become standard until the Classical period, however; pre-Classical symphonies are often called overtures or sinfonias.

The concerto discussed in greater detail below emerged as a specialized form of the symphony, in which the orchestra is divided into two "voices". The Baroque orchestra consisted primarily of a string section with basso continuo accompaniment. The familiar modern orchestra emerged as the orchestra underwent continuous expansion and refinement throughout the Classical and Romantic periods. Solo music of the Baroque and Classical periods was composed for many instruments, but especially keyboard and violin.

A common term for "solo instrumental work" is sonata. Note that "solo music" for a non-keyboard instrument usually features keyboard accompaniment. During the Baroque era, the primary keyboard instruments were the organ , harpsichord , and clavichord. Works for small ensemble are often named for their number of parts trio, quartet, quintet, etc. The leading type of small ensemble during the Baroque age was the trio sonata , which features two melody instruments often violins supported by basso continuo which is considered a single part of the "trio". Large ensemble music can be classified as orchestral or vocal. The leading form of orchestral music during the Baroque age was the concerto , which features two "voices".

One voice is the orchestra ; the other is either a small ensemble or a single instrument. Throughout a concerto, the two voices play both together and separately, imitating and contrasting with one another. A concerto that pairs the orchestra with a small ensemble is known as a concerto grosso ; with a single instrument, a solo concerto. While both types flourished in the Baroque era, only the solo concerto remained popular throughout the Classical and Romantic periods. In discussion of Classical and Romantic music, the term "concerto" is synonymous with "solo concerto". The two great vocal genres of the Baroque age were opera and sacred choral works. Opera , which is essentially the fusion of theatre and music, typically features two kinds of vocal passages: speaking which advances the story and songs which highlight important parts of the story.

Speaking may take the form of recitative "talk-singing" or plain speech , while singing includes arias solo songs , small group songs duets, trios, etc. The two great forms of Baroque sacred choral music are the oratorio and mass. An oratorio may be defined as "an opera with the acting removed". Like opera, an oratorio tells a story with a cast of characters who speak with plain speech or recitative and sing arias, small group songs, choruses.

The performance is simply directed to the audience, however; the characters do not interact. A brief oratorio is called a cantata. Oratorios and cantatas are usually sacred as opposed to opera, which is usually secular. The core of the Roman Catholic religious service is Mass , a ceremony that commemorates the Last Supper. In addition to scriptural readings and symbolic consumption of bread and wine, the ceremony includes recitations sung or spoken of certain prayers; a musical setting of these prayers is known as a mass e.

Bach's Mass in B Minor. During the medieval and Renaissance periods, the mass thrived as one of the principal forms of Western art music. As the Middle Ages drew on, plainchant masses, the original type, were joined by polyphonic masses. The mass remained important after the Renaissance, though its prominence declined. The three most renowned figures in Baroque music are Vivaldi , Handel , and Bach. Antonio Vivaldi , priest and violinist, was the foremost Italian composer of the age, known primarily for composing hundreds of concertos chiefly solo concertos. His most famous body of work is The Four Seasons , a set of four violin concertos. The foremost composer of the Baroque era is Johann Sebastian Bach , who excelled in all major genres of the age except opera which he did not pursue.

Bach is particularly renowned for his solo keyboard works, concertos, and sacred vocal works. In the field of solo keyboard music , Bach is considered the greatest composer of the fugue : a contrapuntal work in which a theme is constantly passed between different lines in the texture see Musical Texture. While some of Bach's fugues are standalone, most are the second component of a two-part work. The most famous of all fugues is found in Toccata and Fugue in D minor. When a fugue lies within a two-part work, the first part is typically a composition of whimsical, improvisatory character thus contrasting sharply with the formal, structured nature of a fugue. Common terms for improvisation-style compositions include prelude, fantasia, and toccata. This style of work emerged naturally from warm-up exercises , which encompass improvised mixtures of runs, arpeggios, leaps, and ornaments.

Stops, or registers, allow the player to move unwanted sets of jacks slightly out of reach of the strings, thus making possible different volumes and combinations of tone colors. One set of strings may sound an octave above normal pitch. Some 18th-century German harpsichords had a set of strings sounding an octave below normal pitch. Harpsichords often have two keyboards, or manuals, which can usually be coupled or used separately, allowing further variations of tone color and volume.

A typical two-manual harpsichord of the 18th century had strings at normal and octave-high pitch playable on the lower manual, strings at normal pitch controlled by the upper manual, and a coupling mechanism. The earliest school of harpsichord building developed in Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries. Italian harpsichords differed from others in that they normally were made of extremely thin wood and then placed in a stronger outer case of the same shape. A second important school of building developed in the 16th and 17th centuries in Flanders, centered around the influential Ruckers family of builders. These schools gave way in the 18th century to distinctive styles of building that developed in France the Blachet family , Germany the Hass family , and England Jacob Kirkman.

Harpsichords of the different national schools varied in details of their proportions and construction, resulting in slight, although characteristic differences in tone color. In the 20th century, two broad approaches to harpsichord building emerged. The first utilized recent principles of construction, such as are found in present-day pianos. Stimulated by the Polish harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, this style was exemplified by the French piano firms of Pleyel and Erard. Their harpsichords relied on heavy strings under high tension in a heavily braced case. Many 20th-century harpsichord works were written for such instruments. Other builders sought to relearn historical principles of proportion and construction in an effort to duplicate the sound of historical instruments.

Stimulated by the German-English builder Arnold Dolmetsch and exemplified by Martin Skowroneck, a German, this school relied on light stringing in a highly resonant case. American instrument maker John Challis employed a different, more modern approach to construction of the instrument.

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