Baroque Art and Music
Both Baroque art and music evoke strong emotions in the people they are intended to touch. The subjects, while not inevitably overtly religious, primarily deal with religious subject matter. Many of the paintings of this era brought religious figures into what were then familiar settings, such as placing a Madonna figure into a crumbling Roman city street. Others, however, used the dramatic effects of chiaroscuro shading and broadly painted gestures and expressions to create images that have transfixed viewers for centuries.
So, too, have the strains set down by Baroque composers held the imaginations of listeners over the centuries. Few people, even those who claim to be unfamiliar with “classical” music would fail to recognize the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah or the lilting notes of Vivaldi’s “Spring Concerto” from the Four Seasons, even if they could not name the pieces. This paper will be used to briefly discuss and compare some of the dramatic effects used in Baroque art and in Baroque music. Baroque Art
The art of the Baroque period was naturalistic; that is, the people portrayed in the paintings and statuary were sometimes portrayed with human flaws. But it was also at this time that light and shading was used to create the focus of the piece by casting many of the supporting figures into relative darkness and bathing the primary figure in light. This effect, chiaroscuro shading, was perfected by Caravaggio and was often adopted by other Baroque artists, as well as other, later artists (author, date, p. 162).
This kind of art was not used to focus only on beautiful or noble images; Artemisia Gentileschi depicts the Old Testament story of Judith and Holofernes in all of its brutality using chiaroscuro shading to horrific effect (author, date, p. 164). All the same, dramatic shading was not the only artistic development of the Baroque period; art during this period took on a never before seen sensuality, even in artwork with a religious theme (author, date, p. 165). Baroque Music Like Baroque art, Baroque music was both dramatic and groundbreaking.
However, unlike Baroque art that was growing more complex, the music of that period was becoming simplified and giving its religious themes a “wider and more universal appeal” (author, date, p. 183). Stories from the Bible were performed in a vocal style known as the “oratorio,” (author, date, p. 185), of which Handel’s famous Messiah is one. Although Johann Sebastian Bach is perhaps more famous for his development of the complex musical fugue, he also composed vocal scores using the chorale prelude and the cantata to bring the Gospels to life in a musical form (author, date).
Musical innovation was not confined to religious themes, however. The opera was born in during the Baroque period, drawing largely on Greek tragedies set to new music, since the original Greek music had been lost. Monteverdi was an innovator in this new musical art form, fully exploring the musical form of “monody” or “recitative. ” Monody was, and is, an extended vocal line supported by instrumentation (author, date, p. 184). Antonio Vivaldi used a similar theme in his music, creating a single and elaborate musical line that extended itself “luxuriously” through a given piece (author, date, p.
187). While Baroque art was often heavy, the music composed by Vivaldi and others like him was often light, carried by string instruments. Conclusion Both art and music experienced transformative innovations during the Baroque period. Although religious themes continued to take the central focus, artistic forms became more accessible to more people during this time. The Baroque period brought music and artistic forms into the world that are still popular today.