The Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods saw radical developments in music. The renaissance period (between 1400 and 1600) was one during which major changes in composing styles, instruments, methods of dissemination and genres of music emerged. Baroque was a period of art and music in Western Europe between 1600 and 1750 (Metmuseum.org. 1). The music of this era sounded heavily exaggerated and ornamented. A major belief in baroque music was that it could be utilized as a form of communication. This aspect was evident in the sacred music composed during this period (Metmuseum.org. 1). The Romans and Greeks used music to communicate and arouse different emotions in the audience. As a result, the practice of including messages in their music as cultivated by music composers has greatly influenced listeners over the years. The Classical period lasted from 1775 to 1825. This period has also been referred to as the Age of Enlightenment. During this era, music freedoms and expressions increased. Composers shifted their attention from scientific problems to other social issues like education, morality, politics etc
Despite being considerably out of sync with contemporary music, the music from these three periods has played a significant role in religion. Because of its religious roots, this music has been widely used to communicate Biblical and spiritual themes to Christians. In addition, it serves as a record of history and to inspire people for many years. This is because music has vastly changed during the course of time. The purpose of this music was to enhance and stimulate religious worship and to make believers prayerful (Kerman and Tomlinson 1). Sacred music from the three periods has also served as a form of communication of knowledge and insight into the experiences of others. Most of the music of the Baroque and Renaissance period was composed to evoke emotional responses. Another purpose that this music has served is entertainment. However, this is viewed as a secondary purpose.
The main similarity in the music from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods is that it was mainly composed for use in religious, courtly and civic circles. There was a demand for music by the patrons and the composers earned a living writing and performing it. The second similarity is that this music was made up of different simultaneous melodies. Patronage for this music was split among different institutions: the Catholic, Protestant Churches, and wealthy amateurs. This music served as a source of income for its composers. The difference between music pieces from these different eras is that
Form serves as an organizing agent for composers. It is the arrangement of different components in music. Opera was one of the various forms that were developed in the Baroque era. It is the leading innovation of this era which enabled extreme affections to be realized in music. Opera allows melodic freedom. Opera comes from the Baroque style of attempting to integrate all the arts into a piece of music. This means that an opera is a form of art that is visual as well as audible. In an opera, characters dramatize a story while singing rather than talking.
An opera is also marked by highly elaborate stage settings and special effects. In the times of its conception, opera performances included ingenious machines that depicted god coming to earth as well as natural and supernatural occurrences. Opera is the leading form of entertainment among the art of the Baroque period. Opera performances are very expressive and emotional as a result of very changeable dramatic action. This ability to attract emotion was responsible from the great deal of appeal. The characters involved in opera performances often alternate between a dualism of action and reflection also known as recitative and aria. Recitative is derived from Italian to mean a recitation. This is the method of declaiming words in a theatrical, heightened and musical fashion. This technique has its roots among late-Renaissance composers (Kerman and Tomlinson 88). The singing voice maintains the rhythm of emotional speech and exaggerates the fluctuations in the tone of voice. The recitative method is employed is used when developing the plot, engaging in dialogue and other points in the drama that require the words to be pronounced and heard (Jennifer, Castell, and Taylor 12). One of the main operas at the time was an Italian Opera Seria. The plots that usually involved the out-pouring of emotion provided singers opportunities to excel in a specific form of expression. Another feature of the opera is an aria. This is an extended solo piece through which the solo singer must be more elaborate in music and coherent than in recitative. The vocal part of the aria has more melody than the recitative and may require accompaniment from the orchestra. The singer-actor pauses to meditate over his or her emotions instead of giving a reaction as is the case in the recitative. The basic form used for the aria is the da capo form “A B A.” This means that both words and the music of part “A are repeated after part B. the singer is likely to ornament the music using cadenzas, runs, etc.
Jenson, Jennifer, Suzanne de Castell, and Nicholas Taylor. "Baroque Baroque Revolution: High Culture Gets Game." Future Play 3.5 (2008): 1-13. Print.
Kerman, Joseph, Gary Tomlinson, and Vivian Kerman. Listen. 7th brief ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000. Print.
Metmuseum.org. "Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History." The Opera. Version 1. Metmuseum.org, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 6 Feb. 2014. <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/opra/hd_opra.htm>.