28 November 2009
Dr. Frederick Tarrant
Music History: Baroque to Romantic
Practical Similarities and Differences of Stile Antico and Stile Moderno
When the general public thinks of Baroque music, they might think of the High Court sounding French concerto, or one of Bach’s many and well-known fugues. These highly structured pieces with their vigorous counterpoint and technical brilliance might be considered “tight” and “incredibly mechanical.” However, these pieces though full of well thought out lines, phrases, and ornamented passages are not driven by the writers will to keep the music enslaved in rules and restricting limits of harmony. The Baroque era contained the elements of the stile moderno, a practice where the harmonies of music we’re not thought of as how they fit with the other notes on the page as much as they each followed their own particular line. These ideas were wrought from an earlier practice known as the prima practica or stile antico. The differences between the stile antico and stile moderno are large in many respects including the lives of the men who lived by both practices.
One of the large differences that many people first hear of when they look at the two practices is that of harmony. These two styles have many different views of how harmony should be used in pieces pertaining to all music. The earliest composer known of to truly “break the rules” and use dissonances to cultivate the text or feeling in a piece that was not widely
accepted as the right way of doing things was Claudio Monteverdi. Count d’Artusi was rather loathing of Monteverdi’s Cruda Amarilli which did not follow some of the earlier models set by those firm believers in being the owner of the music. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina is one example of the men who made such rules for music strictly pertaining to dissonances and over all lines. Cruda Amarilli is by no means an out of the box...