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Music Appreciation Essay

1. What are figured bass and basso continuo? How are they related? Figured bass is a musical notation using numbers to indicate chords, intervals, and other aspects in relation to the bass note of the music and basso continuo is the harmony of the music itself. (this has nothing to do with the question; when I took AP music theory, figured bass was my favorite thing to do!)

2. What is ornamentation?
Ornamentation is the use of non-necessary musical flourishes, such as trills and grace notes, to the basic melody or harmony.

3. What is an oratorio? How does it differ from an opera?
Oratorios are basically just concerts, whereas operas are more theatrical. Oratorios have a different focus and don’t use scenery like operas.

4. What is an orchestra? How did the development of orchestras influence Baroque music? Orchestras are larger instrumental ensembles or groups that contain brass, string, percussion, and woodwind instruments. The development of orchestras brought along the development of new instruments, like the violin and cello & it also brought along the composition of orchestral music specifically.

5. What is an instrumental suite?
A composition that consists of a succession of short pieces, forming into a large composition.

Critical thinking questions:

1. What are the characteristics of Baroque music? How would you describe Baroque music?
Baroque music is defined as “that in which the harmony is confused, charged with modulations and dissonances, the melody is harsh and little natural, the intonation difficult, and the movement constrained” (Jean-Jacques Rousseau). To me, baroque music is highly eccentric and decorative; extremely difficult and concise, yet beautiful all at the same time.

2. Choose one of the composers discussed in the unit and listen to several of the composer’s works. Which works did you listen to? How would you describe this composer’s music? Why do you think this composer was an influential figure in Baroque music?

I chose to listen to one of my favorite composers of all time, Antonio Vivaldi. I listened to The Four Seasons (every season & every movement). I find his compositions astounding, able to tell stories without the use of words. Small things such as the incorporation of animals and sounds from nature truly paint a picture in the mind. In addition to this, the sudden change from a soothing violin soloist playing to a group of string instruments playing at once completely dramatizes the piece, making it more meaningful. Overall, I believe Vivaldi is an amazing composer, who was highly influential in the Baroque period due to his use of mostly stringed instruments, and he was highly innovative. His music was highly decorated and creative, and in most cases, very melodic and smooth. Vivaldi continues to be an influential composer to this day.

3. How did composers and musicians think about themselves during the Baroque period? How did this influence the music that they created?

4. What advantages and disadvantages did Baroque composers have in the patronage system? What did they gain from this practice? What limitations did it place on them?
They were able to showcase their musical genius, yet they were limited to what they were able to play because of what the patron wanted to hear. They did gain a lot of fame and publicity through the patronage system despite the limitations that were placed on them.

5. Baroque music often tried to capture and reflect a particular emotion or feeling. Choose one of the musical works in the unit. Identify the work that you chose. What feeling or emotion is the composer trying to capture or reflect in the work? What aspects of the music lead you to this emotion or feeling?

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