Baroque and Classical Era Composers Term Paper

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Baroque & Classical Era composers

Baroque and Classical Music

Creativity is associated with freedom from constraint and defiance of accepted norms in modern American culture. Thus, it is hard to see the formal, compositional requirements of the Baroque and Classical eras as fostering innovation. Yet composers like Handel and Beethoven were able to use the order and structure of forms such as the oratorio and the sonata to express something new and to emotionally move their listeners. A modern critic might note that even a quick spin of a radio dial is a reminder that despite American cultural emphasis on individual creativity, the modern marketplace has dictated a highly formulaic style for popular music, perhaps even more formulaic than the Baroque and Classical era.

Moreover, without some structure to 'hang' a composition upon, rebellion and innovation is not noticeable to a listener, regardless of the age when the music was composed. For example, the sonata form favored by Beethoven, introduces a mood or an emotion in the first section, then alters this slightly, usually by slowing the tempo, and finally returns to the first movement, with the same tempo, with a difference that reflects the emotional, musical progression of the second movement ("sonata," the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Columbia University Press, 2003). The nature of the structure and the conventions of the form highlight the change that has taken place within the music, and thus the composer's ability to innovate is brought to light. A joyful ending sounds all the more joyful when paired with a somber mid section. The sonata form exists as a kind of frame, on which to demonstrate the composer's unique style and reflective use of music vocabulary, like fast and slow, and minor and major keys, and to think about music in a different way. Likewise, the earlier Baroque period made frequent use of changes in moods between sharply contrasting musical movements. The composer's use of the listener's expectations of such contrasts… [END OF PREVIEW]

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