4.9 Chapter Summary

As we have seen, the Baroque period introduced the rise of musical superstar composers such as G. F. Handel and his contemporary, J. S. Bach, who, although he may have not been the most famous musician of his day, since then has become one of the most appreciated composers of Western classical music. The period between roughly 1600 and 1750 also saw the birth of genres such as opera, oratorio, cantata, concerto, and fugue. In many cases these new genres were propelled by a focus on instrumental music written for the increasingly sophisticated instruments such as harpsichords and organs of the keyboard family. The violin family also flourished and formed the basis for a new ensemble: the orchestra.

Genres such as opera, oratorio, and concerto will continue to be important in the Classical Period, as will keyboard music. Orchestral music will become even more important, with the opera overtures and orchestral suites of the Baroque Period giving way to the symphonies of the Classical period.

4.10 Glossary

A genre of sacred music featuring multiple choirs, or a choir that has been divided into different groups that can perform call-and-responses.
In opera, the Aria is essentially a song.
Basso continuo
continuous realization of harmony throughout a musical piece, usually by a harpsichord and/or cello. The Basso continuo provides a framework/template for harmonic accompaniments.
Literally, a work "to be sung." Bach's cantatas were for the Lutheran liturgy, and featured vocal soloists, choir, and orchestra. They had several movements, including arias, recitatives, choruses and smaller vocal ensembles.
Developed by Martin Luther, the chorale is a strophic hymn (tune) with German text for congregational singing. Chorales became the foundation for Bach's Lutheran cantatas and chorale preludes for organ.
A musical composition for a soloist and orchestra.
Concerto Grosso
a musical composition for a small group of soloists and orchestra.
Cori spezzati
A divided choir that is utilized to perform in a polychoral style—able to perform "call and response." Large churches were designed with multiple choir seating sections to perform such works.
perfected by J.S. Bach during the baroque period, fugues are a form written in an imitative contrapuntal style in multiple voices. Fugues are based upon their original tune that is called the subject.
Music where the melody is supported by a chordal accompaniment the move in the same rhythm.
The text or actual words of an opera, musical, cantata or oratorio, written or compiled by a librettist
More than one note sung during one syllable of the text. The melismatic style was used extensively in gregorian chant.
Motor rhythm
The constant repeated subdivision of the beat. The motor rhythm provide unity and stability within the musical piece.
a subsection or independent section/piece of a larger work. (Ex. A symphony is divided into movements.)
A staged musical drama for voices and orchestra. Operas are fully blocked and performed in costume with sets. The basic musical components are arias and recitatives.
An unstaged sacred music drama for solo voices, chorus and orchestra.
Polychoral (style)
a compositional style where the chorus/choir is divided into two or more groups that can perform with or independently for each other (see antiphonal).
Two or more melodic voices or instruments combine weaving together.
Program music
instrumental Music written to portray an non-musical idea. A descriptive piece.
An operatic number using speech-like melodies and rhythms, performing using a flexible tempo, to sparse accompaniment, most often provided by the basso continuo. Recitatives are often performed between arias and have texts that tend to be descriptive and narrative.
Ritornello Form
The formal design found in a concerto (or concerto grosso) where there is a recurring main theme played by the whole orchestra alternating with contrasting sections for the instrumental soloist(s).
Sectional form
A piece where distinct sections can be identified due to changes in texture and other musical compositional techniques.
a musical composition in multiple movements for solo instrument, often accompanied by a keyboard or (in the Baroque era) a basso continuo.
Stylized dance
piece of music with the characteristics of a dance that is not intended for actual dancing.
The main theme of a fugue.
A collection of stylized dances.
Songs or musical selections where new music is composed for each stanza or section with no repetition.
Where the entire musical ensemble plays at once (as opposed to "solo").
Word painting
expressing the meaning of text through some musical means. (e.g. "sitting all alone" sung by single voice, "up and down" has up-and-down melodies, etc.).