Claudio Monteverdi vs. Domenico Scarlatti Essay

Claudio Monteverdi vs. Domenico Scarlatti Essay

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A comparison of two major Baroque composers: Claudio Monteverdi and Domenico Scarlatti The purpose of this paper is to analyze two psalms by Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi (1567-1643) and Giovanni Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) and compare and contrast the two pieces to find out how music changed throughout the Baroque period.
While historians grouped music of the Baroque period together based on certain characteristics, the music did not remain the same throughout the period, as it would not for any other musical time period. Composers from different points in the Baroque period were chosen, but the things the two composers had in common were the country of residence and their nationality. Special care was taken to chose composers from the same country so that differences could not be accounted as being because of different nationalistic styles.
The piece by Monteverdi, Confitebor tibi Domine (Psalm 110), which I have translated into, You Confess to the Lord, was a psalm that was used as part of the vespers on Sundays. This particular psalm is found in varied forms in the publication Selva morale et spirituale, Selva Moral and Spirit, published around 1640. This setting is set for four voices, a solo soprano voice, and is accompanied by continuo. The piece begins and ends in C major, with use of very few accidentals. The accidentals in this piece were used to create a leading tone to the fifth or tonic. The piece is mostly homorhythmic and has a combination of polyphony and homophony, and occasionally there is a duet with the soprano and solo soprano lines. The piece is written in Latin, which was common practice for the time. To complicate the piece a little more there are no indicated dynamics. When comparing two transcription I found, bar lines were added since almost none existed in the actual manuscript, and some corrections were made in the number of rests in some places in the score.
The psalm composed by Scarlatti, called Laetatus sum, Be Glad, (Psalm 121), is set for four voices, soprano, alto, tenor, bass, a continuo accompaniment, and solo soprano and alto lines. This piece is also a part of the vesper psalms used in church. There is use of imitative polyphony within the chorus parts and within the solo lines, but the chorus lines and solo lines did not imitate each other so in essence, the piece is a duet and a chorus piece put together...


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...hurch. Monteverdi is best known for his books of madrigals. Scarlatti is best known for his binary-form sets of sonatas he composed while living in Portugal. There is no earth-shattering conclusion to be drawn from the comparison of these two pieces. The progression of the Baroque is duly noted, and each composer has his definite style. However, the nature of the pieces is so similar it is difficult to do anything besides note the differences. Perhaps that is what is most striking about the pieces.
It is concluded that the pieces are similar because of the location of the composers in their formative years. It seems that indirectly Scarlatti may have been influenced by Monteverdi, since Monteverdi’s ideas are moderately seen throughout Scarlatti’s works. Originally, the thought was that the composers would not be so much alike, since they belong to opposite ends of the Baroque period. It seems that just being from the same country influences how they write, even though both Monteverdi and Scarlatti had influences from other countries, and they were not even the same countries. It may be possible to track the progression of the Baroque by comparing any two pieces by two composers.

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