Glossary of First Nights Cards
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- air=song, reflects the emotion or thoughts-rage, joy, love, etc. A self-contained composition for solo voice, with instrumental accompaniment (melodic ornamentation) "Ev'ry Valley Shall be exalted" "
- A type of binary dance common in Renaissance Europe, often in duple meter. A moresca appears at the very end of Monteverdi's Orfeo.
- recitativo accompagnato
- This is a style of recitative where the instrumental accompaniment occurring under the single vocal line is explicitly written out to be more active than that of recitativo secco. Here, the basso continuo is supplemented with the addition of other instruments.
slightly more melodic in the vocal part; more instruments are added than for basso continuo than that of a recitativo secco
ex)"For behold, darkness shall cover the earth"
"And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude"
- A short musical pattern that is repeated at successively ascending or descending pitches
- This is a highly contrapuntal type of composition, where one theme is repeated and elaborated in multiple voices during the course of a composition.
- anthem chorus
- Such a chorus contains a mix of polyphonic and homophonic textures. Each line of text is set to a separate line of music. Handel's Messiah contains a number of anthem choruses, such as "Hallelujah" and "The Glory of the Lord", etc.
- the organization of this beat, typically into groups of two (duple meter) or groups of three (triple meter).
- basso continuo
- Italian for "continuous bass." This is the ever-present bass part in music of the Baroque era (approx. 1600 to 1750). It is performed usually by at least two instruments: (1) a low string, such as a cello (or its older cousin, the viola da gamba) which play a single bass line, along with (2) a harpsichord or a lute, both capable of improvising harmonic accompaniment from the single line notated in the bass part.
- Ritornello is an Italian word that means "little return," and refers here to a section of instrumental music that returns repeatedly between other contrasting sections, setting up an organizational framework for a larger form. Listen to the ritornello that recurs between the La Musica's verses in the Prologue to Orfeo:
- means "joke" in Italian. Like a minuet, this is a triparite (ABA) form that is in triple meter. Like the minuet, the scherzo is found in the second or third movement of a symphony. Unlike the minuet, a scherzo has a much faster tempo
- A male soprano or contralto whose unbroken voice has been artificially preserved by means of a surgical operation on the testicles before puberty. Although castratus were first employed exclusively for sacred music, the rise of opera in the 17th cent. provided them with another outlet for their talent.
ex) Giovanni Gualberto Magli for Proserpine and La Musica in Monteverdi's Orfeo
- a type of musical texture where all voices move at the same time with (roughly) the same individual note values.
- 1) The opening section of a movement in sonata form in which two contrasting themes are introduced, the first in the tonic key, the second in the dominant.
- a genre of music that is a combination of vocal and instrumental music. Its subject matter is dramatic, often Biblical, but there are neither sets, scenery, nor costumes. It employs many of the musical forms of opera: aria, recitative, and chorus.
- This describes a musical texture where the musical lines move in different directions from each other and at different points in time. Fugues are a good example of polyphony, but they are by no means the only kind of music to generate this texture.
- A genre of music for orchestra that arose in the early eighteenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, the typical symphony had four movements:
I. a fast movement in sonata form
II. a slow movement, often theme and variations
III. a dance movement, either a minuet or a scherzo
IV. a lively finale, often a rondo
- This is the middle section of a movement in sonata form in which elements of the two contrasting themes presented in the exposition are developed in a variety of new and different ways.
- This is a term unique to Handel's Messiah. It is an instrumental piece that evokes a pastoral mood and uses many instruments.
- recitativo secco
- This is a kind of recitative style which has minimal instrumental accompaniment, i.e., only the basso continuo under the single vocal line.
ex) "Behold, a virgin shall conceive" and "Then shall the eyes of the blind be open'd"
- A sinfonia is an instrumental introduction, often multi-sectional, of a vocal work. Unlike an overture, it does not foreshadow musical themes from the rest of the work.
- da capo aria
- The overall form of a da capo aria is A-B-A'. It is a tripartite musical structure. After the first A section, there is a contrasting B section. This is then followed by a da capo, a return "to the head" or beginning of A. When A is sung for the second time however (as A'), there are often many more embellishments (instances of ornamentation) than during the first statement. This new statement of A' allows the soloist to showcase his or her vocal and improvisational skills.
A good example of a da capo aria is "The trumpet shall sound" from Handel's Messiah. Notice how the B section provides a strong contrast to what has been presented in A. Also compare how A' differs from A through an increased reliance on embellishments.
- The speed of a piece of music, generally understood as the frequency of the beat. (See meter)
Tempo may be indicated by a metronome marking that specifies the number of beats per minute, or by verbal descriptions.
- This term refers to the musical 'decoration' of a pitch by means of additional, rapid and generally non-metrical pitches. A very common example of ornamentation is heard in the trill, as can be heard below. The designation for a trill is often indicated by the abbreviation tr which is placed above the note to be so ornamented.
- The final section of a movement in sonata form in which the material introduced in the exposition returns in the tonic key.
- A class of instruments that produce sound when the player blows through a reed or across an aperture. An early woodwind instrument heard in Moneverdi's Orfeo is the recorder.
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