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Musical Life During Baroque Era Research Papers

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Compare and contrast the musical life and music history of two cities or courts in Europe during the Baroque Era. You may ask:

  • How important was music?
  • Who controlled it?
  • What kind of music predominated?

This should not be a report, but an essay that points out significant difference in civic life and the effect this had on music making. The two cities are Florence and Venice. When you compare and contrast, you’ll pick just a few points. For example, the performance and status of opera and church music, shows significant differences in these two cities and might be a way to compare.

Musical Life During Baroque Era

One title of the paper may be: Musical life of Florence and Venice during the Baroque Era

Thesis statement and Outline: In no more than 250 words state the thesis or main argument and its proposed outline.

Bibliography: Write a formal bibliography using the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines. The bibliography should include The New Grove Dictionary (Or Grove Online) and other scholarly sources. Should not include popular and non-academic websites.

Suggested sources to be used:

  1. Curtis Price – The Early Baroque Era
  2. George J. Buelow – The Late Baroque Era
  3. Stanley Sadie – The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians” 2000-2001 ed 4.
  4. Don Randel – The New Harvard Dictionary of Music latest edition
  5. Julie Anne Sadie – Companion to Baroque Music
  6. Donald Jay Grout – A History of Western Music 2001 ed.
  7. Paul Henry Lang – Music in Western Civilization
  8. Curt Sachs – Rhythm and Tempo: A Study in Music History

The Influence of Music During the Baroque Era

The influence of the Baroque period was exhibited throughout Europe in a variety of ways however its origin and influence on the development of music was largely Italian and stemmed from the demand for a more elaborate musical style to accompany the major festivities carried out in Italian cities throughout the seventeenth century. In response, Italian musicians began to develop and incorporate different musical forms that would reflect and support the fanfare that accompanied these increasingly elaborate Italian festivities and pageants.

Although this might seem to be an oversimplified explanation for the development of music during the Baroque period, it is supported by the argument that the music from the French Baroque was similarly influenced by the demands of the French court and the desires of various political figures for entertainment that was grandly impressive not only to the French but to the world.

In contrast, the development of the Baroque influence in Germany centered more on the relationship between influences outside of the region and the indigenous talents and traditions that existed within it, with one of those outside influences being the encroachment of Protestantism.

The Baroque did not exhibit an impact on the English until much later than other regions of Europe, which is explained by the firm embrace of late Renaissance characteristics in art and music. The Italian, French and eventually German and English Baroque influences would provide evidence of the emphasis on grandiosity that marked the development of Baroque art in general and Baroque music specifically throughout Europe.

In addition to the characteristic of grandiosity there are a number of other connotations that are associated with the Baroque period that were variously revealed in Baroque music including but not confined to “emotionalism, mannerism, exaggeration, the subjective, the lack of equilibrium and proportion as well as monumentality and the sublime”.

It was not unexpected therefore that the music of the Baroque period was marked by some identifiable stylistic characteristics including compositions that emphasized “profusion, instability, mannerism and dynamic motion…laid out on a grandiose scale”. These connotations of the Baroque world and the stylistic characteristics that followed have been made the most familiar by Baroque art however Baroque music, when examined for its styles proves just as reflective of these connotations and stylistic characteristics.

Baroque Styles

The stylistic characteristics that marked the Baroque period were represented in the music of the period in several ways or styles of musical composition. These styles are often called the forces and forms of Baroque music. Because voice is not an equally important element in all of the musical periods, in bears mentioning in an examination of the Baroque period because the voice as a “force and form” of Baroque music was very significant. In fact, the significance of voice in musical composition was exhibited by the development of three different vocal styles during the period.

The significance of vocal style to the development of a Baroque musical is beyond the scope of this research however the basics can be described briefly. For example, in early Baroque, vocal style exhibited an “even-toned, word dominated style” that was “heavily ornamented at specific places according to the accomplishments of the singer or singers”. In the middle of the period, vocal style was dominated by melody with words and ornamentation more limited than in early Baroque style. Finally, the later vocal style shifted to national styles and the reemergence of highly ornamented vocals.

One of the most prominent styles demonstrating the principles of Baroque music was the concertato style, which was strongly influenced by the Church and worked to combine and contrast vocal and instrumental forces in a composition. The development of independent instrumental music such as the sinfonias, sonatas, and canzonas also emerged out of the demand to bring the Baroque to the masses.
The concerto was also strongly emphasized during the Baroque period as was the bass continuo as an element of the concerto and the symbol of the birth of opera, in Florence in particular. In fact, the opera was a significant musical force during the Baroque period because its styles and forms had a major impact on the concerto as well as on the cantata and the motet.

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