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Baroque
(from Portuguese barroco, "a misshapen pearl") PERIOD of music history from about 1600 to about 1750, overlapping the late RENAISSANCE and early CLASSIC periods.
Affections
Objectified or archetypal emotions or states of mind, such as sadness, joy, fear, or wonder; one goal of much BAROQUE music was to arouse the affections.
Basso continuo
(Italian, "continuous bass") (1) System of NOTATION and performance practice, used in the BAROQUE PERIOD, in which an instrumental BASS line is written out and one or more players of keyboard, LUTE, or similar instruments fill in the HARMONY with appropriate CHORDS or IMPROVISED MELODIC lines. (2) The bass line itself.
Figured bass
A form of BASSO CONTINUO in which the BASS line is supplied with numbers or flat or sharp signs to indicate the appropriate CHORDS to be played.
Equal temperament
A TEMPERAMENT in which the octave is divided into twelve equal SEMITONES. This is the most commonly used tuning for Western music today.
Ornamentation
The addition of embellishments to a given MELODY, either during performance or as part of the act of COMPOSITION.
Cadenza
(Italian, "cadence") Highly embellished passage, often IMPROVISED, at an important CADENCE, usually occurring just before the end of a piece or section.
Opera
(Italian, "work") Drama with continuous or nearly continuous music, staged with scenery, costumes, and action.
Libretto
(Italian, "little book") Literary text for an OPERA or other musical stage work.
Pastoral drama
Play in verse with incidental music and songs, normally set in idealized rural surroundings, often in ancient times; a source for the earliest OPERA LIBRETTOS.
Intermedio
Musical interlude on a pastoral, allegorical, or mythological subject performed before, between, or after the acts of a spoken comedy or tragedy.
Monody
(1) An accompanied solo song. (2) The musical TEXTURE of solo singing accompanied by one or more instruments.
Aria
(Italian, "air") (1) In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, any section of an Italian STROPHIC poem for a solo singer. (2) Lyrical monologue in an OPERA or other vocal work such as CANTATA and ORATORIO.
Recitative
A passage or section in an OPERA, ORATORIO, CANTATA, or other vocal work in RECITATIVE STYLE
Ritornello
(Italian, "refrain") (1) In a fourteenth-century MADRIGAL, the closing section, in a different METER from the preceding verses. (2) In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century vocal music, instrumental introduction or interlude between sung stanzas. (3) In an ARIA or similar piece, an instrumental passage that recurs several times, like a refrain. Typically, it is played at the beginning, as interludes (often in modified form), and again at the end, and it states the main THEME. (4) In a fast MOVEMENT of a CONCERTO, the recurring thematic material played at the beginning by the full orchestra and repeated, usually in varied form, throughout the movement and at the end.
Arioso
(1) RECITATIVO ARIOSO. (2) Short, ARIA-like passage. (3) Style of vocal writing that approaches the lyricism of an ARIA but is freer in form.
Castrato
Male singers who were castrated before puberty to preserve their high vocal RANGE, prominent in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, especially in OPERA.
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