Music 2115

Study Guide for Chapter 14

"The Baroque Era"

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Practices & Styles
Basso continuo
Other innovations


Another historical cycle beginning with a return to simplicity and to melody

The 2 contrasting practices:

Stile antico ("antique style," also called prima prattica or "first practice")
The Netherlandish Renaissance style with equal voices and imitative texture

"The music dominates the text"

Stile moderno ("modern style," also called seconda prattica or "second practice")

The new, monodic style, often a single voice with light accompaniment

"The text dominates the music"

Described by Giulio Caccini (c. 1545-1618) in Le nuove musiche ("The New Music," 1602)

A reaction to the complexity of Renaissance style and the chromaticism and experimentalism of the late Renaissance

There were strong reactions against the new style


The 3 contrasting styles:

Music for the church:
Remained much as it had been in the 16th century; only gradually changed

Music for the chamber

Music for enjoyment and entertainment

Music for the theater

The new monodic style was perfect for early opera


New Musical Concepts:

The affections or affects

From a rediscovery of Classical Greek writings about music and the emotions

A common repertoire of specific musical figures reflected the mood of the music

Usually a single movement expressed only one affection

Developed to a high art in Germanic lands


Basso continuo

"Continuous bass"--a new accompaniment style characteristic of the stile moderno

Reflected a new polarization between melody & bass, and notated on two staves, with harmonies just filled in by the player

First came basso seguente ("following bass," also called bassus pro organo) beginning c. 1568
The lowest sounding note throughout a choral piece was notated by the organist

Then basso continuo ("continuous bass," also called thoroughbass) beginning c. 1600

An independent bass line specifically intended as accompaniment for the melody

Continued throughout a piece of music

Called figured bass if numbers were added to help the accompanist by indicating the harmonies above the bass notes

The inner harmonies were not written, but were realized by the player

Use of 2 instruments, bass and chordal, became common


Major-minor tonality

Replaced the medieval system of church modes during the Baroque style period

Composers had been using major and minor since the 12th and 13th centuries

Placed more emphasis on harmony itself, not just as the result of combining several polyphonic lines

Generally considered to have started with the work of Archangelo Corelli in the 1680s

Not explained theoretically until 1722, in Rameau's Traité de l'harmonie ("Treatise on Harmony")


New rhythmic variety

Continued use of the tactus as a reference (in stile antico)

New use of regular rhythm (influenced by dance music)

New use of free, unmetrical declamation (not chant-like, but in speech rhythm)


Changes in notation

Use of bar lines, although irregularly at first

Use of time signatures instead of old mensuration signs & proportions

Use of 3 movable clefs, giving a total of 9 possible clef placements

Key signatures still not standardized in the modern way


Music Printing

Music began to be engraved (incised) on copper plates

Round notes instead of diamond or square shapes now became common


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