Part 5 Ars Nova,Renaissance and Baroque Music

Project One – Musical Instruments in the Baroque and Renaissance eras

Baroque is used to cover the period between 1600 and the emergence of the Viennese Classical style around 1750

Renaissance cover roughly 1430 to 1600

Ars Nova refers to 14th century polyphony and takes its name from a treatise written by Philippe de Vitry in 1322.

String Instruments

Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737)

The Amati Family

The Violin

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)

Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770)

The Cello

The Harpsichord and piano

Bartolemeo Cristofori(1655-1732)

The Harpsichord

The Piano

Wind Instruments

The flute

Johann Joachim Quantz (1697-1773)

The Oboe

Hotteterre family Philildor family

The Bassoon

The Clarinet

John Christopher Denner






Georg Philipp Telemann

Johann Sebastian Bach

Renaissance Instruments

The recorder

I did not realise how long ago the recorder had been developed. I played this early on in school and the school I went to still does this today as my niece and nephew have both played recorder in their time as part of a school recorder ensemble.

Claudio Monteverdi

Research Point


Double reed wind instrument of middle eastern origin. Precursor to the Oboe. Numerous varieties are still played today in Morocco and West Africa.



An early trombone from France.

Sackbut (Renaissance)

The Dulcian

A precursor to the bassoon, also known as the Curtal


A stringed keyboard


Crumhorn (Renaissance)

The crumhorn: a short history

The Viol

The Lute

Project two – Baroque compositional forms

Refined use of counterpoint, unsymmetrical phrase lengths, development of tonal harmony. Strong sense of national style, distinct musical languages from different European countries. Instrumental music began to take over from vocal music in importance and ornamentation, often improvised, featured heavily with melodic lines.

Dominated by a change in texture, growing importance of harmony. Continued to use polyphony (several independent melodic lines) in new ways. A single melody line had textural prominence, followed by a strong composed bass line. Accompaniment filled in on harpsichord according to figured bass which would indicated the required chords. Bass strengthened by a cello or bassoon – known as basso continuo. Composers considered the underlying harmony resulting Erin the interaction of the melodic lines. Harmonic thinking, with defined cadential points the end of phrases, became an ever more important aspect of musical composition. Composers began writing for particular instruments, taking into account the characteristics of the instrument. The result was a gradual distinction between vocal and instrumental style, with a complete divergence in the two styles by the en dog the ears.

Consonance and dissonance were important and all dissonance were required to be resolved. Certain dissonant intervals such as the tritone and the seventh were used against the harmony in order to create striking motional effects and dissonance became defined as a note which did not belong to the surrounding note. The use of dissonance, in conjunction with new harmonic considerations, led to the strengthening and widespread use of the major-minor system.

Rhythm was either in regular patterns based on dance patterns or free. based on improvisation or recitative. Concetpsnof bars and baronies implemented in the middle of the seventeenth century giving composers a way of organising their music into metrical units.

Baroque forms were simple and often based on binary (AB), ternary(ABA and Rondo (ABACA) structure (A, B and C are different themes)> Dance movements were common and the rise of instrumental music led to the creation of forms such as figure, concerto, concerto gross, sonata and partita. Opera began to emerge and orchestral music was often written in the form of a suite. Vocal music included the mass, cantata, oratorio and passion.

The Fugue

One of the most important forms of the errand provides imitative treatments of a main theme (subject) in two or more parts.

  • subject stated at the opening, answered by a second statement this time a 4th or 5th higher or lower. Answer can be modified if necessary to fit in with the harmony
  • Countersubject recurring contrapuntal line heard against the initial subject and all of the fugue’s main thematic ideas are heard during the exposition.
  • Imitative compositional devices are used throughout the remainder of the work including augmentation (same melodic material but in longer note. values), diminution (material with sorter note vales), inversion (heard upside down), stretto overlapping entries, occurring closer together than in the original statements)

Exercise Understanding Baroque forms

Suite- a group of self-contained instrumental movements of varying character, usually in the same key.

Partita – a suite, typically for a solo instrument or chamber ensemble

Variations – a version of a theme, modified in melody, rhythm, harmony, or ornamentation, so as to present it in a new but still recognizable form

Fugue – a contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase (the subject) is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving the parts.

Cantata – a medium-length narrative piece of music for voices with instrumental accompaniment, typically with solos, chorus, and orchestra.

Concerto – a musical composition for a solo instrument or instruments accompanied by an orchestra, especially one conceived on a relatively large scale.

Sonata – a composition for an instrumental soloist, often with a piano accompaniment, typically in several movements with one or more in sonata form.

Sonata da camera –  is literally translated to mean “chamber sonata” and is used to describe a group of instrumental pieces set into three or four different movements, beginning with a prelude, or small sonata, acting as an introduction for the following movements

Sonata da chiesa – (Italian: “church sonata”) a type of sonata, most commonly a Baroque instrumental work with several (often four) movements, originally thought appropriate for church

Oratorio – a large scale work for voices and instruments. Like opera, oratoria often have a strong narrative arc (storyline). Unlike opera, an oratorio is generally performed without costumes, scenery, or stage direction.

Mass –  (Latin: missa), a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music.

Chaconne –  is a continuous variation, usually in triple metre and a major key; it is generally characterized by a short, repeating bass line or harmonic progression. The chaconne form, which is similar to that of the passacaglia, was used by composers in the Baroque period and later.

Concerto grosso – Italian for big concerto is a form of baroque music in which the musical material is passed between a small group of soloists (the concertino) and full orchestra (the ripieno, tutti or concerto grosso).

Canzona – Canzona, a genre of Italian instrumental music in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 18th- and 19th-century music, the term canzona refers to a lyrical song or songlike instrumental piece.

Passion – In Christian music, a Passion is a setting of the Passion of Christ.  Passions were intended to be performed as part of church services in the Holy Week

Motet –  is a mainly vocal musical composition, of highly diverse form and style, from the late medieval era to the present. The motet was one of the pre-eminent polyphonic forms of Renaissance music.

Passacaglia – is a musical form that originated in early seventeenth-century Spain and is still used today by composers. It is usually of a serious character and is often, but not always, based on a bass-ostinato and written in triple metre.

Project three – Composers of the Baroque Era

Jean Baptiste Lully (1632-87)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

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