Performance Practice of Baroque Vocal Technique Essay

Performance Practice of Baroque Vocal Technique Essay

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Performance Practice of Baroque Vocal Technique


When approaching a performance, accomplished musicians often consider the historical context from which a piece originates. They most often think of such considerations in the application of that context as it pertains to early music that is, the Baroque era or earlier. For any era, such historical considerations are called performance practice, and may include the use of vibrato, ornamentation, dynamic levels, tempi, instrumental timbres, performance setting, and balance. Vibrato and ornamentation are two important areas of consideration that vocalists must explore when aiming to give an authentically Baroque performance.

'Ideal' Baroque Vocal Technique: The Assumed Ideas

Over the past several years, some amateur musicians have developed specific ideas about 'correct' performance practice of Baroque music. In an essay concerning the issues of Baroque music performance, Michael Sartorius notes that:

performance to a major degree reflects the spirit of the times, and some of today's 'authentic' performances have less to do with historical accuracy, attempting rather to produce a performance which, in John Eliot Gardiner's words, will 'excite modern listeners.' (Sartorius)

As a result, audiences today want a sound that contrasts with the full, constant vibrato used in singing today, such as is found in straight-tone singing, and a sound that contrasts with twentieth century minimalism, such as is found in ornamented melodies.

Amateur voice teachers, amateur singers, and amateur listeners often associate straight-tone singing with correct Baroque performance practice (Almirena). This idea is probably an outgrowth of the way scholars understand correct d...


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..., Barbara [Valler, Barbara]." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2nd ed. 2001.

Roseman, Ronald. "Baroque Ornamentation." The Journal of the International Double Reed Society Number 3. 1975. IDRS. [17 October 2003] .

Sartorius, Michael. Baroque Music Perormance: "Authentic" or "Traditional": A discussion of the essential issues involved. Ed. Micahel Sartorius. n.dat. Baroque Music Pages. [17 October 2003] .

Seaton, Douglass. Ideas and Styles in the Western Musical Tradition. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1991. 153.

Strozzi, Barbara. Cantate, ariete a una, doce, e tre voci, Opus 3. Ed. Gail Archer. In Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era. vol. 83. Ed. Christoph Wolff. Madisono: A-R Editions, Inc., 1997.

Wulstan, David. Tudor Music. University of Iowa Press, 1986. 174-180. Classical Vocal Techniqe. .

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