IB Music/Music Theory/Introduction

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Set Works[edit | edit source]

It is important to know the technical terminology that is relevant to the current set work. Currently this is the Baroque Opera "Dido and Aeneas".

Here are important considerations when analysing the opera:

  • Tonic Pedals: A tonic pedal is a single bass note that is sustained under the libretto or other parts. This can be used to emphasise the meaning of the text or to highlight a particular theme or motif.
  • Metre: The metre of the text is important in emphasising the meanings of the text, as well as creating more contrapuntal rhythms and rhythmic interest. The metre is where the stresses fall in the words. See "Metre".
  • Affection of Key: Various keys are used to assert different themes or emotions. For example G Minor is the "Death" key, and C Major is the "Royal" key. Theory of affection is a typically baroque characteristic as musical theorists of the time believed different keys could conjure different emotions.
  • Word Painting: Is an originally renaissance technique, however it is predominant in Baroque Music as well. See the baroque and renaissance sections for a description.
  • Circles of 5ths and 4ths: The use of this sequence can tell you which baroque style the passage is idiomatic of. For example, the German baroque style very often makes use of the whole circle of fifths, and incorporates it as a main feature of the music. English baroque tends to use part of the circle as a stylistic feature, or a way of modulating between keys. It is not necessarily a unitary feature but is used as a way of changing key.
  • Types of Baroque: ENGLISH BAROQUE- Very often makes wide use of chromatics. FRENCH BAROQUE- Uses dotted rhythms and spritely metres. For an example see the overture. GERMAN BAROQUE- Very defined key structure, and very organised and strict rhythmic structure.