…du baroque

2 clar, 2 bsn, 2 tpt, trbn, timps, piano        6’        2004

...it lacked coherent melody, was unsparing in dissonances, constantly changed key and metre, and speedily ran through every compositional device.

Anonymous letter to a French jourmal in 1734 complaining of music by Rameau which was described as 'du barocque'.

[Baroque music is] ‘rough’music - which aims to surprise by the boldness of its sounds and passes for song while pulsating with speed and noise. 

English journal of 1738

A baroque music is that in which the harmony is confused, charged with modulations and dissonances, the melody is harsh and little natural, the intonation difficult, and the movement constrained.

Rousseau 1768

According to Grove Music, the term ‘Baroque’ is derived from the Portuguese barroco, meaning a pearl of irregular or bulbous shape. In describing a style of art it was therefore originally intended as a term of abuse. While writing this piece, I wondered what it was that the above commentators of the eighteenth century were complaining of, and set about to explore some characteristics of baroque music: such as (1) a continuo part which launches out and does its own thing from time to time; (2) ideas that are elaborated and ornamented, but not developed in a dramatic way; (3) use of repetition to form a structure.

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