Music Forms That Defined the Baroque Era

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Music Forms That Defined the Baroque Era
The end of the renaissance period brought several artists and intellects together to discuss the revival of the Greek drama. Although several forms from the renaissance were still used, the development of new styles evolved, especially in the area of vocal music. Opera, oratorio and the cantata came directly from the theatrical desire to invoke the emotional awareness of their listeners through singing, while the concerto, sonata and suite gave the listener the ability to feel the conflict and harmony through instruments.

Opera was made possible by the singing of poetic texts with a plot like function, achieving a distinctive advancement in the baroque musical scene. Its development was a step forward to the expanding music scene and gave a new view on the dramatic texts with musical enhancement. Opera is a drama that is sung with the accompaniment of instruments. Operas often have a long type speech that moves the plot along and expresses the characters’ feelings and emotions at specific points in the action. The first operas were often taken from Greek myth, recreating the drama and music of the ancient culture. Two sub-genres of opera were developed in the early 18th century: opera seria and opera buffa. Opera seria focused more on the subject matter while opera buffa used duets, trios and larger ensembles and were notably lighter and often comedic tones.

The word oratorio originally meant prayer hall, a building adjacent to the church. The musical genre of the oratorio emerged in the late 16th century and focused on the subject of religious texts. Oratorios, unlike operas, perform without costumes, scenery or action and are often divided into two distinctive parts. Popular composers of the oratorio are J.S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, and George Frederic Handel.

The cantata, in early history confused with oratorio, consists of recitatives and set pieces which include arias, duets and choruses often in religious...
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