THE VOCAL FORMS
THE larger forms enumerated in the preceding chapters are not used in vocal music. Vocal rondos exist, in second rondo form; but they are never very intricate in construction. Many songs are written in the song-forms, while some show the shape of song-form with trio; but vocal music has forms and styles of its own.
Alessandro Scarlatti developed the da capo aria, and used it in his operas. This is practically a vocal song-form with trio, consisting of a section, an alternating section, and the repeat of the first section. An example of this shape is found in the solo "He was despised," from Handel "Messiah." Sometimes there is only a partial return.
Opera at first gave an important place to recitative, which is musical declamation much resembling speech, though always with a definite pitch. As early as Handel's time there were two varieties, -- recitativo secco, with no support except occasional chords, and recitativo stromentato, with a much fuller and more varied accompaniment. Both kinds are present in "Comfort ye," the opening number of "The Messiah." The accompanied recitative comes first, the change appearing with the words, "The voice of him that crieth."
The songs of Handel's time were classed in five varieties, -- aria di bravura, aria di portamento, aria di mezzo carattere, aria parlante, and aria cantabile.
The first of these, the aria di bravura, was aimed to display vocal technique. The old solos of this sort, such as Handel "Ev'ry valley" or "Why do the nations so furiously rage" (in "The Messiah"), make great demands on a singer's ability to give rapid roulades in clean-cut style. These arias are full of beautiful music, wherein they are superior to the meaningless brilliance of certain showy scenes in Italian opera. The aria di bravura was usually given to a female voice, "Rejoice greatly" being a good example in "The Messiah."