Baroque, British Rock and Compositional Similarities Essay

Baroque, British Rock and Compositional Similarities Essay

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The European Baroque period lasted from 1600-1750 A.D.. Music from this period often had identifying characteristics: expressing mood through both instrumental and vocal music, consistent rhythmic patterns, terraced dynamics that change suddenly rather than gradually, basso continuo, complex melodies, and polyphonic textures (Kamien 148). Composers like Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Bach, Purcell, and Handel were prominent during the European Baroque period and composed both sacred and secular music: operas, oratorios, cantatas, concertos, and suites (“Baroque Music”). British Rock is the blanket term for music of the alternative genre made in the United Kingdom. Much of the British Rock culture got its influence from American Rock and Roll music of the 1950’s, and had characteristics similar to that music such as strong rhythms and powerful lyrics. Popular British Rock artists such as Queen, The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, and Muse perform sub-genres such as indie rock, post-punk, post britpop, and others. Even though these two music cultures seem very different, they share three main compositional similarities: word painting, basso ostinato or “ground bass”, and polyphonic texture.
Word painting, a “musical representation of specific poetic images”, was a fairly common characteristic of music in the European Baroque period. Composers would often set words like “heaven” on a high note and “hell” on a lower note or set depressing lyrics to a descending chromatic scale. One of the most well-known pieces of the European Baroque period is Messiah by George Frideric Handel, which is an oratorio telling the story of Christ’s birth. Since an oratorio lacked costumes, sets, or acting, Handel used a lot of word painting to give the sacred text an ...

... middle of paper ...
"About the Baroque Period." Baroque. Music of the Baroque, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.
Kamien, Roger. Music: An Appreciation. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976. Print.

Sheet Music:
Handel, George Frideric. Messiah. 1741.
Coldplay. “Viva la Vida.” 2008.
Nitzsche, Jack, et al. “Up Where We Belong.” 1982.
Purcell, Henry. Dido and Aeneas. N.d.
Bach, J.S.. “Fugue in G Minor.” 1707

George Frideric Handel. Messiah. (From CD Handel: The Messiah). Sparrow. (2002).
Coldplay. “Viva la Vida.” (From CD Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends).
Wb/Parlophone. (2008).
Nitzsche, Jack, et. al. “Up Where We Belong.” (From CD The Best of Joe Cocker). Parlophone
UK. (1993).
Purcell, Henry. Dido and Aeneas. (From CD Dido and Aeneas). Virgin Veritas. (2004).
Bach, J.S. “Fugue in G Minor.” (From CD Bach: Little Fugue in G minor, BWV 578). Telarc. (1995).

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