Essay on Ensemble Music During the Baroque Period

640 Words 3 Pages
Baroque Period (1600-1750)

Ensemble Music

During the Baroque period, instrumental music was written for every conceivable size of ensemble. On the smaller side, the Baroque sonata offers one of the finest examples of chamber music. Two types of sonata are found during this period: the sonata da chiesa (church sonata), and the sonata da camera (chamber sonata). The sonata da chiesa was more somber, while the sonata da camera was, much like the suite, usually comprised of dance forms. The gigue from Corelli's Sonata for 2 violins and lute is a fine example of the sonata da camera

The term sonata was used during the Early Baroque to denote musical works to be played instead of sung (cantata). Sonatas were usually played by a small
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His piano and violin arrangement of the Air from Bach's Suite known as Air on the G String has been, however, his most enduring achievement.
Suite

A popular form among composers was the suite, a series of movements based upon the rhythm and style of a particular dance. The suite could be written for a solo instrument, for example the harpsichord or violoncello, or small instrumental ensemble, and usually included the German Allemande, the French Courante, the Sarabande (originally from Spain), and the English or Irish Gigue (Jig). Many also included the Gavotte, originally a French folk dance characterized by the raising rather than the sliding of the feet. At times, non-dance movements such as the Prelude were also employed. This series of movements was designed to offer interesting contrasts in meter, tempo, and texture.

Often written for a large orchestra, the dance suite became more popular in the late Baroque. Examples of this type are Handel's two most popular orchestral suites: Fireworks Music and Water Music. The Fireworks Music suite was, appropriately, first performed at a large fireworks display, while the Water Music was written for a party held on the Thames River. Legend has it that the partygoers rode on one barge floating down the Thames, while Handel and the musicians played on another barge immediately following. The most famous movement from these suites is entitled Alla Hornpipe from the