Questions tagged [baroque-period]

A time period in Western art music spanning between 1600-1760 CE, approximately.

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When were the terms "Major" and "Minor" applied to keys?

In 1547, Heinrich Glarean published Dodecachordon in which he posited that in addition to the 4 existing pairs of church modes (plagal and authentic versions of modes with finals on D (Dorian), E (...
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38 votes
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Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D: Why do some recordings seem to be in C sharp?

There are at least two recordings on Youtube of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major which seem to be played a half-step lower, in the key of C sharp. I assume this is a artifact of the ...
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26 votes
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Did baroque composers think of ritardando on their compositions?

I've been always told that whenever I play any baroque piece on the piano, I should take special care when attending to, for example, the amount of right pedal I should use. It sounded perfectly ...
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19 votes
4 answers
3k views

Who was listening to Bach's compositions in his lifetime?

Who ever encountered his work? Was his music played somewhere else in Europe, or only where he lived? What strata of society had any chance of coming into contact with his music? What might be the ...
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3 answers
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Baroque music composed in the 21st century

Which characteristically Baroque elements of music composition still have currency in the 21st century? Are there any 21st-century composers or songwriters who still compose primarily or largely in ...
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3 answers
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J. S. Bach's place in musical history

Was there any reason Bach didn't follow the trends of the times? He was surely very much in touch with contemporary composers, and knew of Handel's and Scarlatti's works specifically. Amazingly, he ...
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What are all these symbols in some old sheet music?

Looking at this sheet music of Pietro Antonio Locatelli's "L'arte del violino" Op. 3 we see that the sheet music is pretty old. I have no idea if this is perhaps the original one or not but it does ...
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4 answers
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In "All we like sheep have gone astray," are we laughing with Handel or at him? [closed]

Nobody can ever sing — or practically even talk about — "All we like sheep have gone astray" from the Messiah without noticing that the words "We like sheep" are prominently accented, in a way that ...
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16 votes
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What is the historically informed way of playing the 1/16 notes in Handel's Water Music suite no. 1 overture?

Handel's Water Music suite no. 1 starts with a slow overture with 1/16 notes at the middle and end of each measure: Some performances play it "as written" [Koopman], but some play the 1/16 notes ...
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15 votes
2 answers
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Did baroque composers expect you to "bring out" the voices in their pieces, the way today's critics seem to enjoy in players?

So, I recently had a, sadly, way too short conversation with a pianist on the train. According to the guy, in the 17th and 18th century polyphonic keyboard works were not played in such a way that ...
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15 votes
1 answer
920 views

What does "silonveut" mean?

I am typesetting a Cambini Quartet. In the score for the cello part I see the following phrase: What does it mean? It appears to say "silonveut". This is the context (I don't think the piece is ...
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What are the shared fundamental components of Baroque and Minimalist music that make them sound similar?

Baroque and minimalist music are two of my favorite genres. In particular, I like the repetitive note sequences with variations. J.-S. Bach's Goldberg Variations and Phillip Glass's Naqoyqatsi are ...
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15 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is the Baroque Schleifer, slide, or glissando symbol evolved from the Gregorian chant quilisma?

I posted this question on Wikipedia a year ago, with no answers. These two musical signs look eerily similar. The Baroque Schleifer or slide (see Wikipedia page): The quilisma in Gregorian chant (...
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14 votes
4 answers
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When editing/transcribing music of the Baroque period is it considered good practice to modernize key signatures and clefs?

As a hobby (and for my personal edification), it seems like a fun challenge to transcribe a few Baroque music manuscripts into a more readable form, and maybe post the results to imslp.org or ...
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14 votes
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Training and Influences of J. S. Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach is undoubtedly among the most celebrated of Baroque composers, and to many the great composer in all history. The era of the late 17th and early 18th centuries in which he lived, ...
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13 votes
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A♭ major 9th chord in Bach is unexpectedly dissonant/jazzy

Measures 21-24 in Prelude VII from Bach's Well Tempered Clavier I I was looking at the Prelude VII by Bach and noticed that on the measure 23 Bach ended that phrase with a A♭ maj9 chord. I was ...
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13 votes
3 answers
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Parallel Fifths in Pachelbel's Canon in D?

The other day, I was watching a scrolling score of Pachelbel's (in)famous Canon in D on Youtube, when I noticed something interesting. In the excerpt below, shouldn't the the circled notes in the 1st ...
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11 votes
5 answers
719 views

Function of augmented-fifth in figured bass

What is the harmonic function of the 5+ in the figured bass in the following snippet? If I have interpreted the figuring correctly, a F♯ figured 5+ should realise the triad F♯ A C𝄪. I am confused ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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Are instructions on organ stop settings included in the notation of Baroque organ music?

I am currently listening to a collection of Bach's complete organ works for the organ. I love Baroque music and Bach in particular, but I am not very familiar with the organ from the performer's ...
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10 votes
2 answers
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Why was basso continuo not widely used after the baroque period?

I'm studying a string quartet by Haydn. This (obviously) doesn't have a basso continuo. Why were basso continuos no longer used in the classical period? Was it something to do with the development of ...
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What is this particular type of chord progression, common in classical music, called?

I don't know anything about music theory but I am a fanatic when it comes to listening to classical music. For a while I have been curious about a type of chord progression which is very common in ...
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9 votes
1 answer
2k views

Musical "ellipsis mark" (name & usage of this symbol)

I've been seeing this mark for years, usually in historical (e.g. Baroque) manuscripts, and it's meaning is clear to me. It's a sort of W-shaped squiggle with a tail that (usually) comes at the end of ...
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9 votes
3 answers
265 views

In which music should I add my own embellishments?

I know that music from the baroque era was composed with the assumption that performers would add their own embellishments (when viable, not for canons or fugues). I've also heard that Mozart didn't ...
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1 answer
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Baroque notation question

Here's a snippet from a 1624 facsimile of Juan Arañés' "Libro Segundo de Tonos y Villancicos". This is a rather syncopated, lively song, with a time signature of C3. Note values seem to be ...
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8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Did Bach use the Partimento technique?

I was researching techniques used in classical improvisation. And I keep coming across two terms. One is "Partimento". Which is an Italian method of improvising on a bass line. Another is "The Rule of ...
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8 votes
3 answers
683 views

Why did baroque music use percussion abundantly, but classical stopped?

Classical music evolved from baroque music, which in turn evolved from Renaissance music. Both baroque and even more so Renaissance make extensive use of percussion. It is certainly not new to ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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Bach: How is this mordent to be realized? Why do people play it like a trill?

So, the old Invention No. 1 by JSB: http://javanese.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/7/72/IMSLP63611-PMLP03267-Bach_Oeves_Complets_Peters_Liv_7_BWV_772-786_2748.pdf The B on the 4th beat of the 1st bar ...
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8 votes
3 answers
890 views

Baroque Performance Tips

What are some recommendations for performing Baroque music? My studio professor seems to think that I can improvise in the Baroque style as easily as breathing -- which is sadly not true. The ...
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1 answer
424 views

Why does the conductor also play harpsichord when there is already a harpsichordist in the orchestra?

When listening to Baroque chamber music, it is not uncommon to see the harpsichordist or the soloist being also the conductor. However, there were two harpsichords in this concert, one dual manual ...
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8 votes
1 answer
733 views

Is this entire movement by Bach really only a single measure with just two chords?

I'm spending a lot more time with early music, and as I was studying the score to J. S. Bach's third Brandenburg Concerto, I encountered something unexpected: an entire Adagio movement that's only one ...
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7 votes
5 answers
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Clarinetist learning baroque recorder

I've seen other questions, such as "Resources for learning to play the recorder" and have done a decent amount of Google searches. Basically, I used to play clarinet rather well, but had to quit due ...
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7 votes
5 answers
350 views

Were the Goldbergs meant to be played in one go?

See, in this very interesting interview (http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/03/16/148769794/why-i-hate-the-goldberg-variations) Jeremy Denk has the following to say: The piece is eighty ...
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7 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the difference between a ciaccona (chaconne) and a passacaglia?

Wikipedia says that a ciaccona (chaconne) is a musical composition involving variations on a harmonic progression or melody (motif), similar to the passacaglia. Both originated from Spain in the ...
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7 votes
1 answer
2k views

How much baroque music was derived from improvisation?

I've heard that much music we think of as "baroque" was actually improvised, and only later set in stone. Is this true? I'm currently playing baroque-style continuo/bass lines in a duo that riffs ...
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7 votes
3 answers
155 views

Placing the downbeats in this five-bar passage in Bach's Italian Concerto

I am asking about bars 13-19 in the first movement of J.S. Bach's Italian Concerto (BWV 971; sheet music). My ear always hears bar 13 plus the first crotchet of 14 as one extended bar of 3/4 and then ...
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7 votes
3 answers
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What led to the historical predominance of the four-part harmony in Western Music?

Introductory music theory heavily empasizes analysis and writing of music with four-part harmony, putatively the basis for music at the beginning of the common practice. Why did four-part voice ...
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7 votes
3 answers
2k views

The Basso Continuo and the Jazz Rhythm Section

I've seen many musicologists compare the Basso Continuo of the Baroque Era to the Jazz Rhythm Section, an analogy which I think is valid and understandable. Here's one reference (of many) that I ...
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6 votes
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Why are the Goldberg Variations considered a demanding work?

In print, the Goldbergs (Goldberg Variations) have a quasi-legendary status, a hallmark of technical difficulty. I was perusing the score and it doesn't look terribly intricate for what's possibly a ...
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6 votes
4 answers
294 views

How did Baroque music come to be associated with Christmas?

I was introducing Baroque music to a friend, and trying to make it less intimidating, I jokingly said, "You've heard this before, Christmas shopping at Macy's." My friend laughed, but I started to ...
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6 votes
3 answers
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What clef is this? (Baroque, Vivaldi)

What is this clef in Vivaldi RV281? This is the only source of the concerto is available ( at least without buying it, which is the manuscript). The piece did have a few weird clefs like an octave ...
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6 votes
2 answers
385 views

Is there a functional interpretation for VIIb in La Follia?

La Follia chord peogression is usually written as: i - V7 - i - VII - III - VII - i - V7 (first eight bars) i -V7 - VII - III - VII - i,V7 - i (second eight bars) I can understand how this progression ...
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6 votes
5 answers
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iii9 - I progression in Bach?

In the last of his 15 Sinfonias (aka Three-Part Inventions), Bach uses quite a daring approach to the tonic chord. Occurring in a sequential progression by downward thirds, it can be described most ...
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6 votes
3 answers
464 views

What is the name of this notation in this example by Couperin?

Consider following excerpt from the beginning of the 2nd leçon of Couperin's Leçon des ténèbres pour le mercredi saint: As you see, it uses a rather strange notation where, for instance, a bar of 3/2 ...
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6 votes
4 answers
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Should you play baroque pieces a semitone lower?

I haven't really been able to find an answer to this question. I've only noticed that most instruments during the baroque period were tuned a semitone lower (A=415 Hz I believe). So shouldn't it make ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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Deciding how to articulate Baroque semiquavers

I'm playing a movement (from a Quantz flute concerto) in 2/4 time. There are reasonably lengthy passages of semiquavers with no slurs marked. I appreciate I want to vary my articulation to make it ...
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6 votes
4 answers
7k views

What does the plus (+) ornament mean?

I am learning a baroque piece on the recorder. Some notes have an unusual ornamentation symbol. How is a note with a plus sign over it played? It was suggested to play it as a mordent. Is that correct?...
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6 votes
4 answers
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What do these notation marks mean?

So recently I have got this piece for a classical guitar (probably originally for some kind of lute) - Chaconne by Anonymous from Schwerin It's full of mysterious parentheses, and I have failed to ...
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6 votes
2 answers
976 views

What is this symbol?

This symbol from Les Baricades Mistérieuses, Couperin, 1717. From recordings I can only guess a mordent. I've checked various music dictionaries and done several reverse image searches, all without a ...
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6 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why did composers of the Baroque sometimes write two of the same dance in a suite?

In Jacquet de la Guerre's Suite No. 3 in A Minor, there are two Courantes. Later on, in Bach's English Suite no. 1, there are two Courantes, two Doubles, and two Bourées. In fact, all of Bach'...
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6 votes
1 answer
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What instrument is this and why is it held so strangely and played?

Looking at this orchestral performance of sinfonia from Bach's 29th Cantata (BWV 29), it is really curious to see the trombonists (?) holding the horn/trombone with one hand and the way they are ...
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