Both the classical and Baroque periods produced great household names in the musical field. Some of the great musicians in the Baroque period include George Handel and Johannes Sebastian Bach. On the other hand, the classical period produced names like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Josef Haydn. To most people who are not really familiar with the classical music, they might not realize the difference between these two formd of music. In fact there are some similarities between the music of the two eras. For instance, they both use the same chamber and orchestral ensembles (Hoffer 91). Avid listeners would however notice the difference in tone, style and structure of the music of the two eras.
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Baroque music began at around 1600 up to 1750. The music of this period was characterized by heavy reliance on polyphony and had a strong contrapuntal style. There were basically different voices layered on one another. Moreover, the melodies of baroque era did not follow a symmetrical style like say four measure phrases. It instead worked with motives or themes which were continuously spun out in the entire piece (Hoffer 92). The Fortspinnung technique is characterized asymmetrical phrases length, changes in key, sequences that are either harmonic or purely melodic, salient phrases omissions and continuous motion.
This technique of Baroque music normally leaves the listeners exited which makes it almost impossible to predict melodic sequences and chord progression. The sonata and concerto developed during the Baroque period were responsible for making the listeners excited. Baroque music major uses the accompaniment of wind instrument to include some creativity in the melodies and make it more interesting. Music composed by Johannes Sebastian Bach is full of complex melodies which normally rework the themes that might have been stated at the beginning of the song.
On the other hand, classical era on the other hand began in around 1750 and ended in 1820. This was the period when musical instruments like the piano were introduced in the musical world (Hoffer 134). The composers of classical music used gradual dynamic change diminuendo and crescendo. Unlike the Baroque composers they were not restricted to terraced dynamic. It is for this reason that harpsichord from the piano was initiated into classical music. One of the premier classical composers to use the piano was C.P.E Bach. Sebastian Bach later performed with a piano in London where he entertainment several guests.
Unlike the Baroque music which could excite the listeners, Classical music used to fluctuate in mood by using contrasting themes (Wright 157). The mood in the song would either change suddenly of gradually thus expressing surges of depression and elation. Classical music is also homophic as opposed to the polyphonic nature of Baroque music. However, the texture of classical music is more flexible as a rhythm where pieces seamlessly shift from one texture to the other.
Most melodies of Baroque period are elaborate and complex as opposed to the tuneful melodies of the classical era that are very easy to recall. Even the most sophisticated compositions of classical melodies have some popular flavor that listeners can easily remember. Moreover, classical melodies follow a symmetrical and balanced style since they are mostly comprised of two phrases that are similar in length (Wright 157). In such cases, the second phrase of the melodies might start like the first one but finish off more conclusively.
It is also very common to find figures basses which are small numbers indicated below the stave in Baroque melodies. These numbers indicate chords that the player of the basso continuo should play. The basso continuo was however abandoned in the classic melodies and therefore are never represented (Wright 160).
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