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Topic: A question for those who actually studied music...

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  1. #1

    A question for those who actually studied music...

    since I my self is an autodidact perhaps someone with more professional fundations would care to help.

    I'm currently doing a little home-study in baroque music and wondered if there was any general form of musical structure at the time? I'm aware that the sonata form was used in later periods, but before then was there any at all? Or did everybody experimented untill someone came up with the sonata form? Take a concerto by Bach as an example, what was the common layout?
    Regards Danial Zainali
    ___
    Reinvent powdered wigs!

  2. #2

    Re: A question for those who actually studied music...

    That's quite a large subject, actually... the evolution of
    form across the Baroque era (about 1600-1750) -- indeed,
    the subject for a number of entire books.

    It might be helpful to get a good overview of the period
    as a whole before delving directly into the specific area of
    form and structure; for which, I might suggest this brief
    article at Wikipedia:

    Baroque Music

    Best,


    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: A question for those who actually studied music...

    Quote Originally Posted by Felixissimo
    since I my self is an autodidact perhaps someone with more professional fundations would care to help.

    I'm currently doing a little home-study in baroque music and wondered if there was any general form of musical structure at the time? I'm aware that the sonata form was used in later periods, but before then was there any at all? Or did everybody experimented untill someone came up with the sonata form? Take a concerto by Bach as an example, what was the common layout?
    Throughout the Baroque period the thorough bass was a major element wherein you had a melodic element, the bass element and the rest filled in as harmony demanded.

    There were many prominent forms. Prior to 1650 the beginning forms of opera, oratorio, contatas with free recitatives took root in the early Baroque.

    Around 1650 the four measure phrase was established and through to the end of the period the violin sonata, the trio sonata, the concerto grosso and the sinfonia became prominent.

    Finally came the fugue, choral prelude, toccata and suite.

    As with all forms, these and others were singularly more prominent in one country or another and emphasized by one or other of various "schools."

    Besides Bach, you might also refer to the works of Tomaso Albinoni, Giuseppe Torelli, Alessandro Scarlatti and Antonio Vivaldo for an understanding of how the modern forms developed.

  4. #4

    Thumbs up Re: A question for those who actually studied music...

    I would suggest to buy (or find in a School Library if you have one close to your home) some easy music like Bach's French suites and/or Anna Magdalena Booklet.

    You find inside easy to read and easy to analize (I don't say easy to play, because a little of keyboard technic is requested by demanding Bach's music...;-) little finished and well defined form.

    The most rewarding and easy to approach being the dance in two parts:

    A: theme exposition, developement to the dominant (in major tune) or relative (in minor tune), suspended ending
    B: reprise of thematic elements from the relative tune, and development to the original tune for conclusive ending.

    Frequently the two parts are nearly specular (same structure, same proportion, same lenght).

    E.g.
    Scheme in Majore tune:
    A: Start in C major and move to a G major for the end of part one,
    B: start in G major and go back to C major for the conclusive ending.

    Scheme in Minor tune:
    A: Start in A minor, move to C major for the end of part one,
    B: start in C major and go back to A minor for the end.

    A way to develope a section is for instance:
    - decide the number of bars to fill in, e.g. round 16.
    - calculate that in the first half you expose the theme: the theme will be more or less between 4 and 8 bars.
    - write a simple and well recognizable theme in 4 to 8 bars.
    - if the theme is now, let say 6 bars, now you have 10 bars to fill with development
    - you know that starting in C major, the last bar will be a G major cadenza
    -write the sequence of chords you would like to use to connect the C maj theme to the G maj cadenza (e.g. C, F, C, Am, Em, Am, Dm, D7, G)
    - you may also pre-assign some chords to the bars, creating an harmonized set of empty bars from the end of the theme to the expected end of the section, like a line to follow for development.
    - take little elements of the theme and start creating little phrases on the chords you pre assigned, filling the empty bars.
    - quickly you will start finding ideas that require different chords, different lenght and different elements: don't think! Let's use it, and change the chord sequence or the structure lenght accordingly! No limits from pre-planning, it's only an helping draft, composing you will modify it to follow the new born ideas, and make musik better from harmonic melodic and rythmic point of view.
    - when all the measurs are filled, start reviewing the whole section, being critical (not hypercritical, but exigent with yourself: never be lazy or autocelebrate yourself accepting the first version. The best come out from reworking and refining!)

    As you can see, it's just a matter of method. But a knowledge of harmony, thematic manipulation and counterpoint are requested to understand what I'm describing. Start from the analysis of the models (like the books of music I told you to read), and/or good style analysis and theory books.

    GOOD LUCK! Don't hesitate asking me (or all the colleagues in the forum) for help and opinions about your study. We are always happy helping students!

  5. #5

    Re: A question for those who actually studied music...

    Wow, thank you very much, Fabio! Just the kind of answer I was looking for.
    Regards Danial Zainali
    ___
    Reinvent powdered wigs!

  6. #6

    Dance forms

    Let's talk about the suite.

    Baroque instrumental suites were collections of short pieces based on popular courtly dances. Dances don't dictate formal structure; rather, they indicate a particular rhythmic phrase or beat.

    So while you are learning about formal structure, study the rhythms of the dances.

    This is from the following Wikipedia entry.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baroque_dance

    Click on the links below; many lead to good explanations of the rhythms.

    French dance types include:
    Wheat Williams
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Music Copyist in Sibelius
    Apple MacBook Pro, Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
    Apple Certified Support Professional. I also work with Windows.

  7. #7

    Cool Re: Dance forms

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheat Williams
    Let's talk about the suite.

    Baroque instrumental suites were collections of short pieces based on popular courtly dances. Dances don't dictate formal structure; rather, they indicate a particular rhythmic phrase or beat.
    Thanks for the correct and intersting contribution.

    But the quoted statement can be sligthly confusing for our friend! What you say may be articulated in a more complex discussion:

    - dance do dictate formal structure! What you are referring to is the dance classification, related to the tipical rythm of the theme.
    - the reason to dictate formal structure is easy to understand: if a preludio or a fugue are free inventions, a dance is related to the choreography of the original, and had several "requested" elements to be recognized as a dance (e.g. rythm, time, even number of bars, and FORM A A', or ABA, or rondo etc. etc.)
    - if even "sonata" form has never been stable or frozen, being extended or variated during centuries, you may imagine how variable can be a dance form starting in Middle age and developing to Baroque via Renaissance... but the baroque dance for keyboard or ensamble, IS a form

    The only way to learn it is analyzing original samples!

  8. #8

    Re: Dance forms

    Quote Originally Posted by Fabio
    - dance do dictate formal structure! What you are referring to is the dance classification, related to the tipical rythm of the theme.
    Thanks for explaining this. I was not a good student at "Form and Analysis" in college.

    We have two excellent "early music" performing ensembles where I live in Atlanta, Georgia, and I have recently started attending their concerts. I will pay more attention to the form of the dances!

    The Atlanta Baroque Orchestra concentrates on instrumental music.

    The New Trinity Baroque Orchestra concentrates on vocal music such as madrigals and cantatas.

    Baryton and Theorbo, anyone?
    Wheat Williams
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Music Copyist in Sibelius
    Apple MacBook Pro, Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
    Apple Certified Support Professional. I also work with Windows.

  9. #9

    Smile Re: Dance forms

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheat Williams
    Thanks for explaining this. I was not a good student at "Form and Analysis" in college.

    We have two excellent "early music" performing ensembles where I live in Atlanta, Georgia, and I have recently started attending their concerts. I will pay more attention to the form of the dances!

    The Atlanta Baroque Orchestra concentrates on instrumental music.

    The New Trinity Baroque Orchestra concentrates on vocal music such as madrigals and cantatas.

    Baryton and Theorbo, anyone?
    WOW you are very lucky!
    I've a special preference for early music, because some of the freshness and humanity of inspiration of the modern pop-rock, it's already recognizable in the early music and make it an easy listening experience, but a serious cultural background (counterpoint, lyrics, sound nuances) make it sophisticated enough to be intersting at every education level.

    Sometime the intellectual effort requested by the classical chamber music or romantic synphonic music make a wonderful, but exausting and less popular experience the listening...

    Did you play some ancient guitar or leute? I love it.

  10. #10

    Re: A question for those who actually studied music...

    Wow, thanks all of you from another "auto-didact"!
    _____________________
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