Examples of the types of musical texture we’ve discussed so far, plus one new type:
(To hear the examples, click the play icon ► on the green audio widgets)
Vivaldi and the Baroque Concerto
Concerto: a piece of music that features solo instrument or a
small group of soloists set against a larger ensemble, usually an orchestra.
Contrast is important in Baroque music in general, and in the concerto in particular:
– Alternates soloist and ensemble
– Ritornello: a section of music, played by the ensemble, that returns several times, like a refrain, alternating with contrasting music
– 3 movements in an alternating pattern: Allegro-Adagio-Allegro, fast-slow-fast. The movements also alternate between major and minor.
– Vivaldi wrote more than 500 concertos, including about 230 violin. The rest feature instruments such as bassoon, cello, oboe, flute, viola d’amore, recorder, lute, or mandolin.
– He also wrote operas, sacred choral music, sonatas and chamber music.
Vivaldi’s best-known work is a group of 4 violin concertos known as the Four Seasons.
– Program Music: instrumental music that attempts to tell a story or convey an idea: a time, place, mood, event, etc.
– As opposed to Absolute Music, which explores structure and technique without trying to be “about” anything specifically.
Does this music seem to tell a story, and if so, what is it about?
Here’s the text it’s based on!
To tremble from cold in the icy snow,
In the harsh breath of a horrid wind;
To run, stamping one’s feet every moment,
Our teeth chattering in the extreme cold
Arpeggio: notes of a chord played consecutively instead of simultaneously, from Italian arpa: harp
Vivaldi: Four Seasons, “Spring,” Movement 1, Allegro
Joyful spring has arrived,
the birds greet it with their cheerful song,
and the brooks in the gentle breezes
flow with a sweet murmur.
The sky is covered with a black mantle,
and thunder and lightning announce a storm.
When they fall silent, the little birds
take up again their melodious song.
Movement 2, Largo
And in the pleasant, flowery meadow,
to the gentle murmur of bushes and trees,
the goatherd sleeps, his faithful dog at his side.
Movement 3, Allegro
To the festive sounds of a rustic bagpipe
nymphs and shepherds dance in their favorite spot
when spring appears in its brilliance.