Concerts Across Time

For current comparison I have chosen excerpts from two quite different concerts – one featured the grand opus by J.S.Bach, namely his Brandenburg Concerto No.5 in D major BWV1050 performed by Croatian Baroque Ensemble, the other featured no less grand performance by the rock band Evanescence at Rock am Ring in summer of 2012 (both retrieved from YouTube). It is impossible to say that I disliked any of them. The types of music are very different, yet both Baroque and rock pieces deserve appreciation and have there devoted listeners. The Baroque era of music development (it is considered to last from 1600s to 1750s) actually laid solid basis for all future musical inventions and discoveries, as it introduced new instruments and gave prominence to older ones (especially violin), designed and developed new musical forms (opera being among them), established tonality, brought into fashion heavy decoration of melody and blossomed in works of many great composers, Vivaldi, Bach and Handel being among them (Schulenberg, p.14). Precisely at that time there came understanding that music was an instrument to speak to human soul and even influence it, and composers as well as musicians did their best to produce this influence. Words were important part of compositions, yet purely instrumental pieces developed actively. In comparison to music of the chosen rock concert, the Baroque music sounds soft and delicate; it plays and whirls like a river and carries listeners through complex but very melodic and elaborate polyphony (ibid). Rock music relies heavily on intensity and loudness of music, it is straightforward, more simple, with clear melody and aggressive bass, and appeals to inner energy residing in people. Words here are very important, as they correlate with music, or rather music supports them, and the vocalist may sing without any musical support. Instead, the Baroque influences minds through its seeming easiness and internal complexity hiding behind the beautiful sound. More careful and sophisticated listener will single out polyphonic elements, ornamentation and other details, and will appreciate the skills and talent of musicians. Here lies one more difference between these types of music – rock tolerates and welcomes improvisation (at least at concerts), both from musicians and from the singer, while Baroque pieces are carefully designed constructions, balanced and polished, and any intervention will destroy the harmony.

Role of concerts was also established and developed through Baroque times. Firstly, music was performed in churches and in courts of nobility, in limited circle of listeners, and composers were actually artisans working for masters (Schulenberg, p.15). Other types of concerts, performed in private households by amateur musicians for family members and friends gradually became popular, with wonderful works by talented composers available for copying and general development of music art. With source of time developing middle class came to love and appreciate music no less than higher class, and in the Baroque period the first opera theatre was constructed. These occasions were the only opportunity to enjoy music, as no media for recording and producing sound …
Posted by: Tom Reinert

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