A Deeper Glance at Music Appreciation: Baroque
The professor started his lesson on Baroque with Bach’s Little "Fugue in G minor". I was immediately drawn to the rich sound of the organ, the complex melody lines, and the robust bass line. The many melody lines were busy—the tones dissonant, yet harmonic. All of the lines seemed to be independent of the others, but still needed each other to exist. It was then that Bach’s most popular fugue became one of my favorites from the era.
The term Baroque is derived from the Portuguese barroco, meaning irregular pearl, and is used to describe Western European music, arts, and architecture from 1600 to 1750. Baroque is a style that came from the Renaissance but predates the Classical era. It is different from other classical music because it is heavily ornamented with trills, turns, and complex notation which nineteenth century critics declared to be exaggerated, distracting, and unnecessary. Although Baroque had a gaudy reputation at the time, this era gave birth to beautiful forms of music such as the opera, concerto, sonata, and cantata.
There are significant characteristics which make Baroque music unique. Contrast between various instrumental dynamics, minor and major keys, different forms such as binary and fugue, and continuous themes throughout a piece are all essential ingredients in the drama that is Baroque.
Here is an audio and visual presentation of Bach’s Little "Fugue in G minor". The different colors represent the four different melodic lines where the subject is present.
The subject first appears in the soprano voice which is represented by the green bars. The subject is then presented in the alto voice (orange bars) in a different key which is the answer. By the time the tenor voice enters with the subject, the three melodies can still be followed independently, but the harmony that is created is more apparent (pink bars). Once the bass line is playing the subject, the composer has four melodic lines to utilize (purple bars).
If you enjoy Baroque music as much as I do, or are interested in learning more, here are a few books that may be helpful!
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music but Were Too Afraid to Ask by Darren Henley
Stephen Fry's Incomplete & Utter History of Classical Music by Stephen Fry
Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music by Anna R. Beer
—Alexa-Rae from Hightstown Library