The Late Baroque Period



Representative composers:  Bach, Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi

MELODY:  Grows longer, more expansive, and more asymmetrical; idiomatic instrumental style influences vocal melodies.

Idiomatic:  throughout the Baroque era there was a new emphasis on writing melodies specifically for instruments such as the harpsichord and violin, melodies that were well suited to the technical demands of these instruments.

HARMONY:  Functional chord progressions govern harmonic movement-harmony moves purposefully from one chord to the next; basso continuo continues to provide strong bass.

Basso continuo:  a small ensemble of at least two instrumentalists who provide a foundation for the melody or melodies above; heard almost exclusively in Baroque music.

RHYTHM:  Exciting, driving, energized rhythms propel music forward with vigor; “walking” bass creates feeling of rhythmic regularity.

Walking bass:  a bass line that moves at a moderate pace, mostly in equal note values, and often stepwise up or down the scale.

COLOR:  Instruments reign supreme; instrumental sounds, especially of violin, harpsichord, and organ, set musical tone for the era; one tone color used throughout a movement or large section of movement.

TEXTURE:  Homophonic texture remains important, but polyphonic texture reemerges because of growing importance of the contrapuntal fugue.

Homophony:  a texture in which all the voices, or lines, move to new pitches at roughly the same time; often referred to in contradistinction to polyphony, which involves two or more simultaneously but independent sounding lines.

Contrapuntal fugue:  counterpoint is simply the harmonious opposition of two or more independent musical lines.  Because counterpoint presupposes polyphony the terms “contrapuntal texture” and “polyphonic texture” are often used interchangeably.

Fugue:  a composition for three, four, or five parts played or sung by voices or instruments, which begins with a presentation of a subject in imitation in each part and continues with modulating passages of free counterpoint and further appearances of the subject.

FORM:  Binary form in sonatas and orchestral suites; da capo aria (ternary) form in aria; fugal procedure used in fugue.

Binary form:  a musical form consisting of two units (A and B) constructed to balance and complement each other

Sonata:  originally “something sounded” on an instrument as opposed to something sung (a “cantata”); later a multi movement work for solo instrument or instrument with keyboard accompaniment.

Orchestral suites:  a dance suite written for orchestra.

Da capo aria:  an aria in two sections, with an obligatory return to and repeat of the first; hence an aria in ternary (ABA) form.