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The Western Civilization has undergone many changes. These changes include the art, political, music, and even principles of the people who have lived in that era. The Baroque Period in Europe happened between the years 1600-1760. The term baroque was coined to refer a different style composed of wide geographic location basically located in the Central Europe.
The term was debated to have referred to architecture however it was basically connected to forms of music at that time. The novelty in Operas was referred to as “du baroque”. The music has gained complaint from many because it lacked coherent melody, the constant changes in keys, speedily composition as well as unremitting dissonance (Mackay, 2007).
The creation of a new style of tonality has been observed in the baroque period. In the period musicians utilized many changes in musicality. That includes the development of new playing techniques for an instrument as well as elaborated musical ornamentation. Thus, it has established a new way of music, the expansion of the range and size of instrumental performance was imminent to the period. The creation of musical genres such as opera, oratorio, concerto, and trio sonata has paved way to new music for audiences.
Objectives of this Paper:
The aim of this paper is to defined the following form of music during the baroque period as well identify their contribution to the era. The comparison and contrast of such musical genres will also be discussed by this paper.
Musical Genres in the Baroque Period Comparison and Contrast:
Opera is a musical genre in the baroque period that is characterized by which musicians and singers perform a drama combined with music in a theater. A musical score is usually used as background music all throughout the play. An opera includes a dialogue of actors and actresses performing out dramatic scenery incorporated with costumes and a little bit of choreography. An orchestra is used as instrumentation for the opera. The most well appreciated artist in this filled is Mozart.
An oratorio is a close relative to an opera. It has an orchestra, choir, soloists and a musical composition. However the oratorio is a strict concert piece not a musical theater. In an oratorio, the relationships between the characters are not given emphasis. Additionally there are no costumes for them. The significant difference of opera an oratorio is the theme they are playing. An opera is usually based on history, legends and mythologies while the oratorio is playing about sacred topics. An opera also includes dramatic scenes from common love stories while the oratorio plays the life of many saints. Catholic Christians mostly portray the lives of saints and as well as the passion of Christ during Lent. The Protestants mostly based their oratorios in the Bible (Smither, 2000).
A concerto a musical composition that flourished in the baroque period is composed of three movements or parts. It is composed by a solo instrument and an orchestra helps the single act. The solo instrument could be a violin, flute or piano. The most popular acts of romantic concertos are played with a cello and violin. Mozart wrote five violin concertos in this period.
The last musical composition for the baroque period is the trio sonata. It is written for two musical instruments and a basso continuo that makes it a three part act. The basso continuo is usually made of two instruments the cello, (violin sometimes) or a keyboard instrument. Thus, the performance of a trio sonata is composed of four musicians. The violin is usually used for the melody of the performance (Mangsen, 2001).
Comparison and Contrast of Instrumentation of each Musical Composition:
The four musical compositions basically used different instruments. However there are similarities seen to an oratorio and an opera. The instrumentation is basically the same and only differs to the theme played as well to the emphasis of costume. The Concerto is an act played by a solo instrument back-up by an orchestra or a small concert band. The Trio Sonata is played with three instruments and one of those is a paired musical score (“basso continuo”). The common for each musical composition is the tonality as well as the diverse style of music arrangement. Additionally, the emphasis of the combination of instruments music is the main score of the baroque period.
Dido’s Lament vs. Messiah: Ev'ry Valley
A concrete example of comparing an opera an oratorio is through this musical works in the baroque period. Dido’s lament is an opera about the love of Dido, (queen of Carthage) to the Trojan warrior Aeneas (BBC Music, 2010). It was a sad story basing on the word Lament. Dido is being saddened by the fact that Aeneas abandons her. It was an opera by Henry Purcell. And the libretto was written by Nahum Tate. On the other hand Messiah: Ev'ry Valley is an oratorio, basically performed in churches based on the Old Testament and the King James Version of the Bible (Stanford University, 1999). It was basically performed throughout a liturgical year. The Oratorio is divided in three parts, the prophecy of the Messiah, the passion of Christ and the Teachings of St. Paul. It was composed by George Friderick and the libretto was written by Charles Jennes. Basically the instrumentation of an opera an oratorio is the same but they differ on the theme they play. Additionally, the oratorio does not emphasize the interaction between characters unlike the opera that it has been integrated with choreographies. These two works are one of the most popular music in the baroque period.
Reflection of Each Musical Composition to the Baroque Period:
Music universally is a form of expression. Thus, the four mentioned musical compositions have showed stories in the period. Performance of the most common love stories in the period has been played by many operas. Opera seria was one of the most popular acts in the 1700’s. Basically, the tone of music in the period has undergone various changes because of the happenings at that time.
Mangsen, Sandra. 2001. "Trio Sonata". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited byStanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
A Short History of Opera. ISBN 9780231119580.Retrieved 11 April 2014.
Mackay, Alison; Romanec, Craig (2007). "Baroque Guide".Tafelmusik.
Smither, Howard E. (2000). A History of the Oratorio: The Oratorio in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, pp. 453 and 463. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807825115
BBC Music. (2010). Dido’s Lament. Retrieved from: [http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00r6029]
Stanford University Web Library, (1999). “MESSIAH.” Retrieved from:[ http://opera.stanford.edu/iu/libretti/messiah.htm]
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