Friday January 21, 2011
17 thcentury (Baroque period) song: Flow my Tears by John Dowland
Monteverdi, when defending his work, talking about the “secunda
practica”, so he knew he was doing something new with dissonance,
Homophonic music (now most of the music we hear today) is melody +
o All you need is something you can recognize as an accompaniment
Chant is very “horizontal”, melody is a linear type of music (one thing
after another). But in homophonic music, we receive the music as being
music that is above a base line. We think of what’s going on in a vertical
This is what’s going on in Flow My Tears
Homophony will sometimes evolve many parts doing different things at
the same time. What makes it homophony is that you have some kind of
accompaniment (voice, instruments, etc).
o You can have homophonic music with one instrument alone
Eg: Lute pieces in supplemental music, can play more than
one note at the same time (same with piano), so they
accompany themselves. You can play polyphonic music on
Flow My Tears is, more specifically a Monody (vocal melody with an instrumental
Performance practice: She’s not belting it out, subdued style. Chamber
music (appropriate for a small room). She sings with a straight tone.
Man is playing a lute
One of the things we see around 1600 (Monteverdi, Italian composers) is that they
start specifying specific instruments. In the Renaissance, all of the thousands of
editions of printed music say “Dances for 5 voices”, etc, voices meaning people or
instruments. They never specified which instruments, only the amount of parts.
At 1600, the composer actually scored (orchestration) the music.
Monody/Homophonic music is not new in the Baroque, but it takes over then. From
then up until now, it is the most dominant type of music.
We must know Bach’s death date (1750).
Another thing that defines the Baroque era is the Basso Continue, aka the figured
Figured bass: not really everything that is supposed to be played. So
much was improvised.
o It is a bass line with figures: either accidentals, sharps, naturals,
flats, or numbers above the notes, or an absence of a number (that
also means something)
o This shows how important homophony was during the Baroque
o What we see is a focus on the main melody (almost completely
notated) and the bass line, to be improvised upon. In the Baroque period, there’s a main melody that’s sung (or even maybe another
melody), and a bass line performed as written, but the improvised the main chord
Baroque music can sometimes sound very busy, have a lot of notes (passing notes),
it has a lot of ornamentation. During the 17 thcentury and into the 18 thcentury (late
Baroque period), you begin to get treatises of how to sing in different styles (French,
Played a Monteverdi song of a man singing, the other people were called
the Continuo group
What a basso continuo does, by definition, is accompany. There is always a Basso
Continuo part in Baroque music.
Sometimes you might have one melody line above