This week we will be changing our focus from Beethoven to that of the music written during the Baroque Era, that is from the time of 1600-1750. This music is full of energy and life and has much to say to us today, but it takes, perhaps, a little more effort to understand and fully appreciate the style.
What makes Baroque music sound different from that of other eras, is that there is a lot going on at the same time. It is complex in a way that is different from the complexity of Beethoven or Chopin or Bartok. The term “polyphonic” is given to this style, which literally means, “many sounds” or “many voices”, and that is an apt description of much of Baroque style writing. In contrast to the Classical style which often would have a single line melody with an accompaniment pattern, Baroque music has many parts all going at the same time which gives the listener much to enjoy but can also be confusing at times.
The music for this week is the first movement of the Italian Concerto written by J. S. Bach. While there is clearly a “melody” that can be followed throughout the movement, listen also to the other voices and try to follow one of the lines other than the melody, all the way through to the end. Enjoy the vitality and rhythmic energy which permeates this music. Just be careful if you’re listening to it while driving as you may find yourself wanting to go faster!
Second movement of the Italian Concerto
Third movement of the Italian Concerto played on a harpsichord