Chapter 15. Music for Chamber and Church in the Early Seventeenth Century

Chapter Outline



Seventeenth-century musicians were acutely aware of style and its relationship to the social functions music serves. Theorists of the time distinguished between church, chamber, and theater music, recognizing different styles appropriate for each. Composers continued to cultivate and expand on the forms, genres, and idioms characteristic of sixteenthcentury vocal and instrumental music, giving music in each category a distinctive flavor. Yet the new styles and techniques that were developed for monody and opera quickly spread, as composers infused dramatic elements into other types of music. Thus the chamber, church, and instrumental music of 1600?650 reveals both continuities with the past and influences from the modern theatrical style. 

Chapter Outline: 

  1. Style and Function
    1. Theorists recognized different styles for church, chamber, and theater music.
    2. Composers gave increasingly distinctive flavors to genres in both vocal and instrumental music.
    3. Styles and techniques developed for opera continued to influence other genres.
  2. Italian Vocal Chamber Music
    1. Secular works in concertato style
      1. For solo voice or small vocal ensemble with basso continuo
      2. Included madrigals, canzonettas, strophic songs, dialogues, and recitatives
      3. Widely published and performed
    2. Monteverdi and concerted madrigals
      1. Madrigals with instrumental accompaniment
      2. Monteverdi’s madrigals after 1605 used basso continuo and sometimes additional instruments.
      3. Book 7 (1619), titled Concerto
      4. Book 8 (1638), Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi (Madrigals of Love and War), his last book of madrigals
        1. Large variety of forces: solo voice, small vocal ensemble, chorus, continuo, instrumental ensemble
        2. Includes dramatic works
        3. Styles range from sixteenth-century madrigal style to stile concitato and operatic recitative.
    3. Ostinato basses
      1. Basso ostinato
        1. Persistent, or obstinate, bass
        2. Also called ground bass (bass that is the ground, or foundation, for the work)
      2. Common features
        1. Triple or compound meter
        2. Two, four, or six measures long
        3. Often features a descending tetrachord
      3. Became a favorite device in opera (e.g., NAWM 69 and 79)
      4. HWM Example 15.1
        1. From Monteverdi’s Lamento della ninfa (Lament of the Nymph) from Book 8 of his madrigals
        2. The bass line establishes the tonal center.
        3. The voice conveys distress via dissonance against the bass (marked with an “x”).
      5. NAWM 60b, Guárdame las vacas
        1. A Spanish pattern similar to the romanesca and ruggiero of Italy (see HWM Chapter 11)
        2. Developed from a long tradition in Spain and Italy of extemporizing on a bass
    4. Chacona (Italian ciaccona)
      1. Dance song with origins in Latin America
      2. Pattern of chords (for guitar originally) used as a refrain
      3. HWM Example 15.2 from Monteverdi’s Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti (1632)
        1. Uses fifty-six repetitions of the pattern
        2. Two tenors sing of happy emotions during the chacona portion.
        3. The ending uses a slow, expressive recitative to portray a lover’s lament.
    5. Cantata
      1. Definition
        1. Originally simply “piece to be sung” (from the Italian cantare)
        2. By mid-seventeenth century, the term was used for a secular composition on a lyrical or dramatic text, usually for solo voice with continuo, containing several sections of recitative and aria.
      2. Main composers: Rossi, Cesti, Carissimi, and Barbara Strozzi
      3. Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677) (see HWM biography, page 333, and HWM Figure 15.1)
        1. Venetian singer and composer
        2. Studied with Cavalli
        3. Supported by her father (poet and librettist Giulio Strozzi) and wealthy patrons
        4. Published eight collections of music in the mid-seventeenth century, for a total of over one hundred works
        5. Published more cantatas than any other composer of the time
      4. NAWM 69 and HWM Example 15.3, Lagrime mie (1659), by Strozzi
        1. Sections in recitative, arioso, and aria styles
        2. Recitative (HWM Example 15.3) uses descending line, minor mode, and augmented intervals to portray a weeping lover.
        3. Other sections portray different emotions, using styles appropriate to each.
    6. Secular music outside of Italy
      1. Italian genres of monody spread to northern Europe, especially England and Germany.
      2. In France, the air de cour (court air) was popular.
        1. Homophonic, strophic song
        2. The text-setting is syllabic, with long and short syllables dictated by the length of the vowel (similar to musique mesurée).
  3. Catholic Sacred Music
    1. Stile antico polyphony continued to be used throughout the seventeenth century.
      1. Pure stile antico, exemplified by Palestrina’s style, carried associations of tradition, reverence, and sanctity.
      2. Over time, basso continuo was added and the style was updated.
      3. Gradus ad Parnassum (Steps to Parnassus, 1725)
        1. Treatise by Johann Joseph Fux
        2. Codified the neo-Palestrina style counterpoint of the time.
        3. Used as a counterpoint textbook for over two hundred years
    2. Sacred concerto
      1. The Church incorporated dramatic tools from opera to convey its message.
      2. Large-scale sacred concertos
        1. For major feast days at large churches
        2. Many voices, sometimes in chori spezzati (divided choir)
        3. Settings of Vespers, psalms, and movements from the mass
        4. Orazio Benevoli (1605-72) composed works using three or more choirs and organ for St. Peter’s in Rome.
    3. Small sacred concerto
      1. For solo singer(s) with organ and one or two violins
      2. Lodovico Viadana (ca. 1560-1627) composed over one hundred
        1. He published the first book of church music to use basso continuo.
        2. HWM Example 15.4, Exsulate Deo, uses four-voice imitation in a two-voice piece by having each voice enter twice with the theme.
        3. The continuo fills in the harmony, making it possible to perform the piece even if one of the soloists is absent.
      3. NAWM 70 and HWM Example 15.5, O quam pulcrha es (1625), blends elements of recitative, solo madrigal, and lyric aria.
        1. By Alessandro Grandi (1586-1630), who worked for Monteverdi at St. Mark’s
        2. Grandi composed solo motets using monody.
        3. The sensuous text from Song of Solomon represents God’s love for the church.
        4. Grandi’s sense of drama parallels that in Bernini’s dramatic religious sculptures.
    4. Music in convents
      1. Nuns sang within convent walls for devotion and reflection, not for public audiences, but some insisted on musical accomplishment equal to that of men.
      2. Lucrezia Vizzana (1590-1662) published Componimenti musicali (Musical Compositions) in 1623.
        1. Twenty motets, most for one or two soprano voices with basso continuo
        2. Style incorporates theatrical monody and elaborate vocal ornamentation
        3. The music expresses the text with declamatory phrases and expressive use of unresolved dissonance.
    5. Oratorio
      1. Definition: religious dramatic music incorporating narrative, dialogue, and commentary
        1. The text was in Latin or Italian.
        2. Called “oratorio” because it was similar in function to the prayer hall (oratorio), where people met for nonliturgical worship.
        3. Developed in Rome in the seventeenth century
      2. Differences from opera
        1. Almost never staged
        2. Used a narrator (a singing role)
        3. The chorus took on different roles and functions.
        4. Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674) was the leading composer of Latin oratorios.
        5. Jepthe (ca. 1648), by Carissimi, exemplifies the midcentury oratorio.
          1. Biblically-based libretto (Judges 11:29-40) with paraphrasing and added material
          2. Jepthe promises God that he will sacrifice whatever creature first greets him on his return home if God will help him defeat the Ammonites.
          3. The narrator introduces the story and describes the action in recitative.
          4. Stile concitato helps to depict the battle scene.
          5. In NAWM 71, Jeptha’s daughter laments her impending death, accompanied by two sopranos and a small vocal ensemble, using rhetorical devices such as a descending tetrachord in the bass.
  4. Lutheran Church Music
    1. Both Catholics and Protestants adopted concertato medium and monody.
    2. Sacred concerto
      1. Both large- and small-scale were composed
      2. Johann Hermann Schein (1564-1637)
        1. Published two collections (1618, 1626)
        2. Book 1 features duets in the Italian style but based on Lutheran chorales.
        3. Book 2 has more varied styles than Book 1, with solo instruments that contrast with ensembles and more varied styles.
        4. Schein’s style set the precedent for later Lutheran works.
    3. Heinrich Sch?z (1585-1672)
      1. Biography (see HWM biography, page 339, and HWM Figure 15.2)
        1. Studied with G. Gabrieli in Venice
        2. 1612: Returned to his home (Kassel)
        3. 1615 to his death: Was in the service of the elector’s court in Dresden
        4. Composed in all genres, including the first German opera (1627), German psalms, Latin motets, sacred concertos, and works based on the life of Christ.
      2. Early works
        1. Psalmen Davids (Psalms of David, 1619): German-texted but influenced by Gabrieli
        2. Cantiones Sacrae (Sacred Songs, 1625): sacred songs (motets) using madrigal-like word-painting
      3. Effect of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648; see HWM Source Reading, page 340)
        1. The economic hardship of the war reduced the number of musicians at the Dresden chapel.
        2. Schütz delayed publication of his Kleine geistliche Konzerte (Small Sacred Concertos, 1636, 1639) because of the war.
      4. NAWM 72, O Lieber Herre Gott (O Beloved Lord God, 1636)
        1. Schütz used Italian monody to portray the text.
        2. HWM Example 15.6a-b use techniques developed by Monteverdi to portray the varied affects of the text (supplication, wakefulness, joy).
      5. NAWM 73, Saul was verfolgst du mich: Post-war works
        1. From Sch?z’s post-war book of Symphoniae sacrae (1650)
        2. Return to large-scale forces, with two choirs, doubled by instruments, six solo voices, and two violins.
        3. The style merges Gabrieli’s polychoral style with Monteverdi’s expressiveness.
      6. Musical figures
        1. Counterpoint patterns that had become associated with specific emotions
        2. First developed in Renaissance text-painting and enumerated by Sch?z’s student Christoph Bernhard (1627-1592)
        3. HWM Example 15.6a uses cadentiae duriusculae (harsh cadential notes) to portray Jesus’ words “Why do you persecute me?”
        4. HWM Example 15.6b uses saltus durius (harsh leap) to suggest the hard road ahead for Saul.
    4. Sch?z’s historiae
      1. Historia, a musical setting based on a biblical narrative, was a prominent Lutheran genre.
      2. Schütz’s Seven Last Words of Christ (possibly composed in the 1650s) sets Jesus’ words in expressive monody and narration in recitative or chorus with sinfonia.
      3. His Christmas history (1664) sets the narration in recitative and scenes in concertato medium.
      4. Passions, settings of the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, were the most common type of historia.
      5. Schütz used plainsong and polyphonic motet style for his three passions.
  5. Jewish Music
    1. European synagogues mixed tradition with innovation.
    2. Cantillation remained the primary form of Jewish musical worship.
      1. Oral, improvisatory style
      2. Cantors incorporated popular non-Jewish tunes into their improvisations.
    3. Polyphony
      1. Introduced to Ferrara and then to Venice by Leon Modena (1571-1648), rabbi, scholar, and humanist
      2. Hashirim asher lish ‘lomo (The Songs of Solomon, 1622-23).
        1. The first book of Jewish liturgical polyphonic music
        2. Thirty-three pieces composed by Salamone Rossi (ca. 1570-ca. 1630) of Mantua
        3. Modena also wrote a preface (see HWM Figure 15.3).
        4. The contents include psalms, hymns, and synagogue songs (not the Bible’s Song of Solomon: the title was a pun on Salamone Rossi’s name).
      3. Few other attempts were made to write Jewish liturgical polyphony until the nineteenth century.
  6. Instrumental Music
    1. Abstract genres carried over from the sixteenth century were the main focus, but elements of vocal music styles permeated instrumental composition.
      1. Interest in moving the affections
      2. Focus on the soloist and virtuosic embellishment
      3. Styles such as recitative and arias
      4. Violin music imitated the voice and absorbed many vocal techniques.
    2. Ways of categorizing instrumental music
      1. By performing forces
        1. Solo works (for keyboard, lute, theorbo, guitar, etc.)
        2. Chamber works, for soloist or small group with continuo
        3. Large-ensemble works, with two or more players per part (more important after 1650)
      2. By venue or social function
        1. Church
        2. Chamber
        3. Theater (e.g., movements in ballets and operas)
      3. By nationality
        1. Composers in each region preferred certain stylistic elements.
        2. Composers sometimes borrowed and blended styles from other lands.
      4. Types of works through ca. 1650:
        1. Improvisatory pieces (toccatas, fantasias, or preludes)
        2. Fugal or imitative pieces (ricercares, fantasias, fancys, capriccios, or fugues)
        3. Pieces with contrasting sections, often in imitative counterpoint (canzonas or sonatas)
        4. Settings of existing melodies (e.g., organ verse, chorale prelude)
        5. Variations of a melody (variations, partitas), or bass line (partitas, chaconnes, passacaglias)
        6. Stylized dance movements, alone, paired, or in suites
      5. Types of works after ca. 1650:
        1. For keyboard, the principal types were prelude, toccata, fugue, chorale settings, variations, and suite.
        2. Ensemble music consisted of sonatas, suites, sinfonias, and concertos.
        3. Elements from one type of work often appeared in others, to the delight of audiences who knew the distinctions.
    3. Giralamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643) and the toccata
      1. Biography (see HWM biography, on page 345, and HWM Figure 15.4)
        1. The most important composer of toccatas
        2. Born in Ferrara and trained in organ there
        3. 1608-1628: Organist for St. Peter’s in Rome, with extra income from performing and teaching harpsichord to noble patrons
        4. 1628-1634: Organist to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, in Florence
        5. 1634: Returned to Rome under the patronage of a noble family
        6. His keyboard music was renowned in his lifetime, and his compositional style became the model for subsequent generations.
        7. Works include toccatas, fantasias, ricercares, canzonas, and partitas, as well as some vocal music.
        8. His collection of three organ masses, Fiori musicali (Musical Flowers, 1635), contained the music an organist would play at Mass.
      2. Music in the Organ masses in Fiori musicali
        1. Toccatas before Mass and at the Elevation of the Host before Communion
        2. Some extra toccatas in two of the masses
        3. Short, sectional pieces with sustained notes idiomatic for organ music
      3. Johann Jacob Froberger (1616-1667) was Frescobaldi’s most famous student.
        1. Organist at the imperial court in Vienna
        2. His toccatas alternate improvisatory passages with sections in imitative counterpoint.
        3. Later generations merged toccata and fugue more completely, following his example (e.g. NAWM 84 by Buxtehude and NAWM 88 by J. S. Bach)
      4. Although the pitches had names, there was no absolute fixed pitch.
    4. Imitative genres: ricercare and fugue
      1. Ricercare
        1. Serious composition for organ or harpsichord, using one subject or theme in continuously developed imitation
        2. NAWM 75 and HWM Example 15.7, from Frescobaldi’s Fiori musicali, uses constantly shifting harmony, a distinctive subject, and a contrasting countersubject.
      2. Fugue
        1. From the Italian fuga, “flight”
        2. A term used in Germany for serious pieces that treat one theme in continuous imitation (see HWM Chapters 16 and 18)
      3. Fantasia
        1. Imitative work on a larger scale than the ricercare
        2. Leading composers were Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (Dutch, 1562-1621) and Samuel Scheidt (German, 1587-1654).
        3. Sweelinck’s fantasias usually use different countersubjects in a series of sections.
        4. Scheidt’s Tabulatura nova (New Tablature, 1624) notates the parts for each voice on a separate staff, instead of tablature.
        5. English fantasias (called fancy) were composed for consorts of viols by Alfonso Ferrabosco the Younger (ca. 1575-1628) and John Coprario (ca. 1570-1626).
      4. Canzona
        1. Imitative piece in contrasting sections for keyboard or ensemble
        2. Characterized by markedly rhythmic themes and liveliness
        3. Frescobaldi’s organ masses included canzonas.
        4. Some canzonas use a different theme in each section.
        5. Variation canzona: uses a single theme in each section (e.g. HWM Example 15.9 by Giovanni Maria Trabaci [ca. 1575-1647])
    5. Sonata
      1. Early in the seventeenth century, the term meant any piece for instruments.
      2. Later the term was reserved for pieces with specific characteristics.
        1. Scored for one or two melody instruments, usually violin(s), with basso continuo
        2. Idiomatic for instrumental capabilities
        3. Similar to canzona in its use of sections
      3. NAWM 76, Sonata IV per il violino per sonar con due corde by Biagio Marini (1594-1663)
        1. Marini was a violinist, serving under Monteverdi at St. Mark’s for part of his career.
        2. Idiomatic violin techniques, including double-stops, large leaps, and sequential figures
        3. Alternation of rhapsodic and metrical sections, similar to Strozzi’s cantatas
      4. By the mid-seventeenth century, the sonata and canzona had merged, and both were called sonata.
    6. Settings of existing melodies
      1. Organists composed settings of liturgical music in both Catholic and Lutheran churches.
      2. Frescobaldi set Gregorian chants in his organ masses.
      3. Settings of chorales became known as chorale preludes.
    7. Variations (also known as partite, divisions)
      1. Three common techniques
        1. Repetition of melody virtually unchanged, with variation in accompanimental parts (sometimes called cantus-firmus variations)
        2. Repetition of melody with different embellishment in each variation and accompanimental parts essentially unchanged
        3. Bass or harmonic progression serves as the foundation, as in the romanesca.
      2. Variations over a ground bass
        1. The pattern was usually four measures long.
        2. Meter was typically triple.
        3. Tempo was usually slow.
      3. Frescobaldi published Partite sopra ciaccona and Partite sopra passacagli in 1627 (e.g., HWM Example 15.9)
    8. Dance music
      1. Composed for social dancing, dance movements in theatrical productions, and as stylized chamber music
      2. Suites of movements extended the idea of linking dance movements in pairs.
        1. Johann Hermann Schein’s Banchetto musicale (Musical Banquet, 1617) contains twenty suites for five instruments and continuo.
        2. Schein’s suites have a standard sequence: pavane, galliard, courante, allemande, and tripla (triple-meter variation of the allemande).
        3. Movements of suites sometimes use the same melodic idea, but may be only subtly linked.
  7. Impact of Early-Seventeenth-Century Music for Church and Chamber
    1. Grew from sixteenth-century traditions, but intensified the idea of distinct music styles for different venues
    2. Genres developed or codified in this era remained important genres for the next hundred years.
    3. Composers continued to study the music of this era, even after it was no longer being played.

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