Music Apprec. Test 2 essay questions

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Contrast the style of Medieval secular music forms such as the Estampie, to religious forms, such as Gregorian Chant. What are the notable differences between the two?
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Music in the Middle Ages was composed and performed for either sacred (religious) or secular (non-religious) purposes. Sacred music was written for Catholic church services. The earliest form of sacred music was called plainchant. Plainchant, often referred to as the Gregorian Chant in honor of Pope Gregory I, consisted of single monophonic unaccompanied melodies sung in unison and was written without a fixed rhythm or meter. There were also no tempo markings or dynamics noted on the music. Plainchant was also not composed in major or minor keys but in modes, which consisted of a unique system of half and whole steps. By the year 1000, a second melody was sometimes performed simultaneously with the plainchant melody, which led to a more embellished sound comprised of more and more melodies and voices. This was the beginning of polyphonic music in West Europe. In tandem, dances were a common type of secular-instrumental music in the Middle Ages. For example, the \”estampie\”, an early form of dance music performed in castles, was usually in a lively triple meter, and had repeated sections with first and second endings. Musicians used this, and other dances, as the basis of instrumental music they composed and improvised.
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Explain the music style known as Gregorian Chant. Talk about the type of texture, rhythm, melody, text, and use in the liturgy.
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Gregorian Chant is a musical repertory made up of chants used in the liturgical services of the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, the liturgical tradition, which the Church has given us is a vocal, monophonic music composed in Latin using sacred texts from the Ancient and New Testaments. This is why Gregorian Chant has often been called a \”sung Bible\”. Linked intimately to the liturgy in this way, the goal of the Gregorian melodies is to favor spiritual growth, reveal the gifts of God and the full coherence of the Christian message. In the earlier centuries such as the fifth and the sixth century, the chant was very distinct for different regions. They were written very basically with squares called neumes. The chants are superficially the same as our modern diatonic scale. B natural – C – D – E natural – F – G – A, in all essence being our modern C major or A minor scales. The rhythm of the chants are often free without any accent or beat. This is to place more emphasis on the words of the chant rather then the rhythm and melody. The melody is not fixed pitch wise. The words would sometimes have just one note to a word or syllable, however sometimes there would a dozen, therein lies the hyponotic effect it has when one listens to chant. In the earlier days of chant, the chants were written as lines and were hard to make out, however, the chant developed and later on was written on a staff similar to our 5 line 4 space staff, however, the medieval staff was 4 lines, 3 space staff. The notes are called neumes which don’t have stems, but were often stacked. Not to show chords but to show the melody is going a certain way.
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Compare and contrast the choral music style used in the Mass and Madrigals. How are the two styles alike, and different?
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An important kind of secular vocal music during the Renaissance was the madrigal, a piece for several solo voices set to a short poem, usually about love. A madrigal, like a motet, combines homophonic and polyphonic textures. But the madrigal uses word painting and unusual harmonies more often. The Renaissance form of sacred music known as mass is a polyphonic choral composition made up of five sections: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnu. Some of the similarities between the madrigal and the mass were the homophonic textures: Two or more parts with a single melodic line moving together in harmony. The polyphonic textures: A musical composition that uses two or more simultaneous but independent melodic parts, lines, or voices and the imitation techniques: The process of repeating a melody immediately at another part or point to cause overlap. It is important not to confuse this with polyphony. Although the similarities in the techniques and styles might be very similar, there are slight contrasts that create substantial differences in the sound of the mass versus the madrigal music. For example, madrigals are about secular topics of love, humor, and scenery presented at home or social gatherings and madrigals also depict topics of hate, grief, fear or shock versus mass’ which are sacred choral works performed in worship services. And, mass’ have a much more stricter style in comparison to madrigals, as well as, there harmonies tend to be very smooth and predictable, where as madrigals may actually include dissonance-another form of homophony-instead of harmonies if a musical piece demands negative emotional expression.
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Outline the plot of the opera \”The Coronation of Poppea\” and explain each of the main characters: Poppea, Nero, Ottavia, Seneca.
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One of the first operas to use historical events and people, it tells the story of (the Roman emporer named Nero) and his infatuation with the young and beautiful Poppea as she tries to make him divorce his wife Octavia, and take her as empress of Rome. Seneca is a philosopher that advises Octavia on what do; however, Seneca is seen as threat to Poppea getting what she wants and the plot thickens! The following is an outline of the plot: • Cupid, the god of Love, sets out to prove to the goddesses of Fortune and Virtue that in the affairs of mortals, Love will always triumph. • The Emperor Nerone wishes to be rid of his wife, the Empress Ottavia, and to marry his mistress Poppea. • His most trusted advisor Seneca counsels against the plan, but Nerone will not listen to reason. Urged on by Poppea, he orders Seneca’s death. • Poppea’s former lover Ottone turns his affections to Drusilla, who has always loved him. • Ottavia decides to murder Poppea and forces Ottone to carry out the killing. He is aided in the attempt by Drusilla, but the plot fails when Cupid intervenes. • Nerone banishes Drusilla and Ottone. With Ottavia also banished, Nerone marries Poppea and crowns her Empress. • Love is triumphant
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Discuss the difference in style and function in chruch service between Gregorian Chant and Lutheran Chorales.
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When the sixteenth century began, Christians from Poland to Spain and from Italy to Scotland shared allegiance to a single church centered in Rome and supported by political leaders. By midcentury, this unity of belief and practice, inherited from the early Middle Ages, was shattered. So was the peace. European society was disrupted by the Protestant Reformation, as central and western Europe entered a century of religious wars. Sacred music was profoundly affected. Leaders of the Reformation sought to involve worshipers more directly, through congregational singing and services presented in the vernacular rather than in Latin. These changes led to new types of religious music including the chorale and chorale settings in the Lutheran Church. The chief musical reform of the Lutheran Church was the establishment of congregational song as a vital ingredient in corporate worship. Congregational singing centers in the singing of hymns, particularly the Lutheran chorale. This distinctive body of words and melodies, which took shape in the early years of the Reformation was drawn from chants of the medieval Church, the popular pre-Reformation \”kyrie songs,\” from pre-Reformation non-liturgical Latin and Latin-German songs, from secular melodies to which sacred words were set, and newly-written texts and melodies. This unique form became known as the Lutheran chorale. The themes were the basic facts and proclamation of the Christian faith; the melodies, sung by the congregation in unison and without accompaniment, were vigorous, rhythmic, and in the best sense of the word popular. The Catholic Church also undertook reforms, but continued to use Gregorian chant and polyphonic masses and motets. Lutheran chorale: • Metric, rhymed, strophic poetry for unison, unaccompanied performance by the congregation • Most important form of Lutheran church music • Congregations sang several chorales at each service. Gregorian: • Careful treatment of dissonance • Equality of voices • Five- or six-voice compositions, using contrasting combinations of voices • Clearly defined mode • Duple meter with brief contrasting passages in triple • Imitative polyphony, but successive entrances vary the motives • Imitation mass the most common type, but composers still use paraphrase and cantus-firmus techniques
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Discuss how an oratorio such as the Messiah differs from opera
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The major difference between the two is that an opera seria (Italian for \”serious opera\”) is a dramatic multi-sectional musical work that is sung throughout, that would usually tell a story from mythology or ancient history and be seen on stage. Oratorios, on the other hand, mostly set biblical stories to music and were performed in a concert setting without costumes or scenery and are not typically staged. It uses a singing narrator (testo, sometimes called historicus or storicus) and usually a chorus, though the chorus becomes increasingly unimportant. Latin oratorios tend to be in one part, while those in the vernacular are in two parts, separated by a sermon. The oratorio, such as Handel’s Messiah, is a sung but not staged biblical narrative. The sung narration is usually provided by an Evangelist with alternating portions of sung dialogue. Typically, these works would be performed during Easter week, and became part of the larger celebration of the Resurrection.
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How were the musical career’s of J.S. Bach and G. F. Handel alike and contrasting.
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The lives and careers of the two most significant Baroque composers parallel each other in interesting ways. Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel were born in the same year, and died less than a decade apart. Their compositional styles represent important, although essentially different musical trends during the Baroque. The contrasts between the two men are noteworthy. One spent a quiet career as a music director at various courts and Lutheran churches in Germany; the other lived a lavish life in England, while working in practically all the major forms of the Baroque. One was better known during his lifetime as an accomplished organist and fell into obscurity after his death; the other was known as one of Europe_ s greatest composers both during his life and after his death. The compositions of one faded from the musical landscape for 100 years; the other_ s were the model for the next generation. Bach’s choral music is, arguably, the finest example of vocal polyphony in musical literature. He treats the voices of the chorus like instruments, emphasizing music over text. Though the emotional needs of the text are always considered, his choral works lack the theatrical vocals of opera or the madrigal. The word that perhaps best describes all of Bach’s music is reverent. His profound sense of duty to his church and his God is apparent in his respectful approach to composition. One outstanding feature of Handel’s work is his ability to synthesize the best features of all European Baroque music. His cosmopolitan style, which combines Italian musical forms with the grandeur of French music, and the seriousness of German music, was targeted to the English concert public who demonstrated a sophisticated appreciation for choral music. If Bach’s music can be described as mainly polyphonic with homophonic passages, then Handel’s can be said to be the opposite. This is not to say that Handel was not adept at polyphony. On the contrary, polyphonic passages like the chorus And with his stripes from Messiah are as rich and complex as any written by Bach. Handel, however, simply chose not to apply that texture very often.
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What is a castrato and how were they important to the opera seria style?
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The development of complex polyphonic church music, with the elaborate ornamentation required voices in the higher register; for this purpose the Papal church choir had used boys and adult male falsettists, mostly imported from Spain, since there was a Papal injunction against women singing in public. Later, when, outside the Papal States, women did take to the stage, many people still preferred the better-trained voice of the castrato in female roles, and thus the ever increasing demand by theatre audiences for castrato soloists. The continuing development of opera seria with its stylised plots involving legendary figures and gods lent itself especially to the unreal sound of the castrato voice even in the roles of heroic male characters. Castrato singers became the first operatic superstars, earning enormous fees and public adulation.

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