Dylan Moreira Music Literature September 23
September 23, 2018
The Baroque Era
Originally founded by the Portuguese, the word “baroque,” was originated from the word “Barroco,” which also happens to mean “an oddly shaped pearl.” Since the nineteenth century, the word baroque has been more commonly used and gained popularity to characterize a monumental time period in the western European hemisphere about art much from the early 1600′ to about the last 1700’s. It may be a little weird today, having some of our planets greatest music masterpieces in history compared to an oddly shaped pearl, but back in this time of the nineteenth century for the critics that are applying these terms, the music of Handel’s and Bach’s era was a little too out there and exaggerated in a way. After a period of time of shaving the “extra” connotations, the era of the “baroque” is now more of a simple and convenient tune for one of the wealthiest and diverse periods of time in our memory lane of music.
The Romans and the Greeks in this time enjoyed this form of music very much emotionally. The Greeks and romans had faith that this form of music was massive “tool” that could arouse for the listeners and a good form of communication. This thought of music that in this time, Baroque era happened to be vastly encouraged by their interest in ideas from the renaissance. Because of these composers of this time realizing the power that music had, they figured that if they could have similar characteristics of ancient music, that they could arouse the same feelings from their listeners.
In modern music today, the foundation of this era is based on equal temperament. Ironically, many musicians have no idea of its true meaning. In a modern time like today, this is something that musicians don’t even really need to focus on but in a time like the baroque era, hundreds of years ago, there was an entire culture that studied these numbers as if it were their religion or a way of life. The equal temperament is a scale that musicians or producers frequently used in the moment of making music. It is used for piano tuning, as well as for instruments of the common fixed scale. The scale helps created a smoother and more noticeable pitch.
The Well-Tempered Clavier were two books that were published in the baroque era by Author Johann Sebastian Bach. The submitting of these two books that were, one being made public in the year 1722, and then later one 20 years later in 1742, were a collaboration of 48 preludes, as well as fugues. These two books mentioned and rationalized the 12 majors keys, as well as the minor keys, also hitting points that constitutes the largest scale and also the most contributed the solo keyboard in the baroque era.
An absolute monarchy, also known as absolutism basically meant that, at the end of the day, all the authority to manage and run a state was in the palms of the king, who was in charge by the divine right. Unlike having a limited monarchy, thy that is in charge would not share his authority with any other form of a governing body, such as on the progression of baroque art was change In Europe’s social structure. Within this period, political change brought the improvement of absolutism. In ways to show the power and impressiveness of the centralized state, baroque palaces were constructed on a monumental scale. The royal palace and the gardens at the Versailles, in France is an example of this practice.
In the baroque period, “basso continuo” was a form of musical accompaniment. Basso continuo means, bass that is continuous through a form of music. This is a reason to why it is called figured bass or as others may have heard of thoroughbass. On a base line, it consists of partially improvised accompaniment, most often of the time on a type of keyboard. The composition of basso continuo was soon to be outgrown of the period of the monodic revolution. Instruments that have more of a softer melody, such as a bassoon, or a cello usually as a great way to strengthen the bass line.
In an era in time of the baroque, in music, monody stands for a solo vocal style. A style of music that has one focal melodic line and instrumentals following. Although this form of music can be found in many cultures around the world, it surfaced in about the 1600’s, particularly in Italy, in a response to the contrapuntal style of the 16th century in response in efforts to try and re-created the ancient Greek music.
The method of aesthetics musically, was called the Doctrine of affects. This theory that was openly approved by later baroque composers and theorists, that embraced the idea of music having the capability of increasing a multitude of specific emotions with those that are listening. The main belief of the doctrine was that if the composer can properly use a device or use a procedure of musical standards, then his piece of music can be made into a piece of sound that brings out specific involuntary emotions to the crowd of listeners.
In the 1600’s, somewhere around the mid of this century, the popularity of males that were castrated began to rise frequently. These males began to pop up as sopranos in a church choir. After research, these acts commenced in Spain, and then soon these men start to rapidly migrate to Italy and later on to southern Germany. The soprano voice that these people had originated by castrating young boys that had promising futures as singers was the act of waiting for these young men to reach puberty, with the intended being a voice that obtained all of its higher pitches but also had some adult ranges of pitches as well. Reportedly, the final man that had been castrated was named Alessandro Moreschi, “the angel of Rome”(1859-1922). Although, now as we assume his vocal prowess was only shadow of the bigger masters like the very much known, Senesino and Farinelli.
After coming to an end of the research provided, in conclusion to the Baroque era, an era of much change/adaption and an era that will forever be one of the most important periods in time for the evolution in music, we have learned about key points and techniques used that helped define the music of this time, being monody, equal temperament, the doctrine of affects, etc. We have also touched bases on some composers, castrated boys, and continuous bass. All points that without them, music today would be completely different. Who knows what music would have been today without the changes in the baroque era.