The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers

By Arthur Elson | Go to book overview

XXXIX
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."

-360-

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The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Part I - The Evolution of Music 1
  • Part I the Evolution of Music 2
  • I - Primitive and Savage Music 3
  • II - Greece and Rome 13
  • III - Early Christian Music 23
  • IV - The Minstrel Knights 31
  • V - The Schools of Counterpoint 42
  • VI - The Harmonic Style 58
  • Part II - The Great Composers 67
  • Part II the Great Composers 68
  • VII - Bach 69
  • VIII - Handel 77
  • IX - Gluck 85
  • X - Haydn 91
  • XI - Mozart 98
  • XII - Beethoven 108
  • XIII - Schubert 120
  • XIV - Weber and Romanticism 128
  • XV - Mendelssohn 135
  • XVI - Schumman 143
  • XVII - Chopin 151
  • XVIII - Italian Opera 158
  • XIX - Cherubini and French Opera 170
  • XX - Berlioz and Other Frenchmen 179
  • XXI - Liszt and His Circle 188
  • Part III - Musical Form 307
  • XXXI - Melody and Appreciation 309
  • XXXII - Figures and Phrases 317
  • XXXIII - The Song-Forms 324
  • XXXIV - The Rondos 331
  • XXXV - The Sonata-Allegro Form 336
  • XXXVI - Other Sonata Movements 341
  • XXXVII - The Orchestral Forms 345
  • XXXVIII Dances and Piano Styles - Dances and Piano Styles 351
  • XXXIX - The Vocal Forms 360
  • XL - The Contrapuntal Forms 366
  • Part IV - The Instruments 376
  • XLI - The Piano and Its Predecessors 377
  • XLII - The Organ 384
  • XLIII - The Voice 391
  • XLIV - The Violin 398
  • XLV - Other Bowed Instruments *
  • XLVI - Plucked-String Instruments 413
  • XLVII - Flute and Piccolo 420
  • XLVIII - Oboe and English Horn *
  • XLIX - The Bassoons 433
  • L the Clarinets 438
  • Li Horns, Trumpets, and Cornets 444
  • Lii Trombones and Tubas 450
  • Liii Instruments of Percussion 456
  • Part V - Special Topics 463
  • LIV - Some Famous Pianists 465
  • LV - Some Famous Singers 474
  • LVI - Violinists and Violin Music 483
  • LVII - Orchestration 491
  • LVIII - Conducting 496
  • Lix Acoustics 503
  • LX - How to Read Music 515
  • LXI - Modern Music 538
  • Appendix 569
  • Index 581
  • Index to Supplementary Chapter 606
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