When i think of the Baroqu peroid and what I can compare it to, i think of a teenager. A teenager is that that awkward between stage of a child and adult. Not yet fully developed and prone to drastic changes spotaniously. This is, what i believe, exactly how it was with the Baroque Era of Music.
When Was the Baroque Era?
The official company line on when the Baroque Era started, which you will find in every book, encyclopedia, or bubble-gum wrapper on the subject, was the year 1600. The event which earned 1600 this enviable distinction, as far as I can tell, was the simple fact that it has two zeros stuck on the end of it, thus making it fairly easy to remember. In contrast, the end of the Baroque Era was definitively set by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Grand-Poobah of Baroque music, who had the good foresight to die in a year also ending with a zero, thus giving historians another easy to remember date; 1750. For some Baroque zealots Bach’s death was truly the day that music died… at least it gave good closure.
The Origins of Baroque Music
Following the theme of teenagers. Eunuchs are guys who are missing an organ. Medieval doctors had learned that if a man's "pearls' were cut off of boys at an early age, none of the biological changes of puberty would occur. There would be no facial or body hair, their voices would not change, and all their acne problems would be virtually solved. At the turn of the century, being a eunuch was not as uncommon as one might think.
The men were eking out a meager living primarily playing the women’s roles in theatre when somebody realized that these guys not only acted like women, they could sing like women… in fact, they could sing BETTER than women. It turned out that these castrati had the high beautiful voices of women, and the strong powerful lungs and chest muscles of men. Well, as you might guess, once you build a better mousetrap you’ll soon need a better mouse. Composers had to write music that could demonstrate these singer’s remarkable abilities. To Baroque composers, better music simply meant more difficult, with very elaborate, ornamental melody lines.
In addition to the Eunuch singers, there are three other factors that also may have contributed to the rise of Baroque music:
The Reformation and the Counter-Reformation: The entire 17th Century was a great big publicity war put on between the Catholic and protestant churches, each side vying to attract more customers sort of like Coke and Pepsi do todayby spending tons of money on rock stars and pop-concerts I mean on musicians and church-concerts each side was trying to convince the consumers that they were the best and only church to buy salvation from.
The Insanely Wealthy Families of Europe: Due to the bustling trade of newly discovered foreign countries, money was streaming into Europe at a tremendous rate. Everybody who was anybody wanted to drive in their expensive carriages and show off their expensive clothes and their expensive servants. The Opera House was the hangout of the 17th Century. It was a fad of sorts, the hip place to see and be seen, and sometimes since they were there, some people would even listen to the music.
The royal courts of Europe’s desires to appear cultured and refined: As they oppressed the lower classes and taxed them for every last cent to pay for their grotesquely extravagant lifestyles, the kings, queens and other assorted monarchs decided that they didn’t want to appear entirely barbaric to the peasants. Music became a symbol of sophistication and taste. The thing to do if you were a king was to have your own music group. The general rule of thumb was this; the better the musicians performed, the better king you were.
In summary, if you were a composer during the Baroque era and you didn’t work for a Church, the Opera, or some Royal Court, you were basically unemployed and starving. Although these three things led to the deluge of money and attention that was...
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