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“Alleluia” and “Marriage of the Virgin” – The Early Gothic Era

“Alleluia” is organum written by Leonin. Organum is the polyphonic religious music traditional for the Early Gothic period. The Early Gothic era is known as the Ars Antiqua (The old art). This type of music work is also known as Florid organum (written 1150-1300), because “flowery organum” is the nature of free decorative voice and main characteristics of the style. While we are listening to the Leonin’s “Alleluia”, the only word is being sung is Alleluia sustained and stretched to incredible length. Such melisma makes music florid or flowery. The hand of God is personified by the lower of two voices plainchant anchor and controls the music. Above the plainchant, the second voice called the Duplum (decorative voice).

“Marriage of the Virgin” (1304-06) is located Arena chapel, Padua. It is 11th scene from the Italian Fresco cycle "Life of the Virgin" by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337). The religious scenes with abundant blue color were common at that time. During the Middle Ages, all music and art were inspired by religious theme. In Gothic art Virgin Mary got more human form which was quite different from the Byzantine iconic form. Both “Alleluia” and “Marriage of the Virgin” eulogize the Church and can be applicable only for religious goals. There has already been observed some careful attempts of self-expression freedom by artist and composer of Gothic Era.

“Ave Maria” and “Annunciation” – High Renaissance.

Joaquin’s “Ave Maria” is a four-voice motet. It is the Renaissance choral work. The Renaissance period demonstrates quite new feature of music art:the clear vocal articulation. For the opening Joaquin used a Gregorian chant. The rest of the motet was not grounded on a chant melody. Polyphonic imitation where each voice sings the same melody in succession continues the opening. Moreover, imitation occurs not only among individual voices but between pairs of voices. All four voices sing together “virgo serena,” generating an expertly skilled closing punctuation of this musical part. Joaquin virtuously alters the textures and uses the contrast of two, three, or four voices, creating separate musical sections.

The “Annunciation” (1472–1475) painted by Leonardo da Vinci in Florence. It represents the annunciation: the Archangel Gabriel tells to the Virgin Mary that she will have a Jesus Christ, and it happens in the courtyard garden of a beautiful Florentine villa. During the period of High Renaissance, the religious themes continue to be the main theme of the paintings but the background changed. Thus, beautiful landscapes become the element of the High Renaissance masterpieces.

“Tu se' morta” and “Orpheus in the Underworld” – Early Baroque

The Greek art is extremely popular, so artists and musicians create their works of art guiding by the Greek mythology motifs. “Orpheus” is the Monteverdi’s first opera, and he used in this opera synthesis of all musical genres available to him at that time. Highly melodically fascinating and dramatically strong recitative is the main feature of Monteverdi’s Orpheus. Orpheus response begins slowly with extreme dissonance (diminished chord) that puts his pain forward immediately. At first he hardly seems conscious, and his voice seems almost monotonic. Further, as he commits himself to certain actions, his tone rises and he loudly cries the words: “… back with me to see the stars”. Thereon the passage reaches exquisite climax as the music climbs upwards to word “stelle” (stars). However, Orpheus knows that he may fail, and he sings: “… with you in the company of death”. Singing these words about death Orpheus’ voice falls to his lowest point in the piece.

Jan Brueghel shows Orpheus in the underworld. The dark scene represents enslaved and tortured people, a lot of reptiles throughout the entire composition. The Orpheus plays with lyre to Hades and Persephone. Brueghel contrasts the strong dark background colors of the underworld with Orpheus, who is represented in the pastel shades; Orpheus seems angelical figure in hellish landscape.

“Sonata in C Sharp Minor, K. 247” and “A Scene in the Roman Compagna”

The inspiration by Greek and Roman mythology was characteristic for late Baroque Era too. Sonata form is technically evolved from Baroque binary dance form; spiritually, the sonata form was inspired by the drama inherent in opera. “Sonata in C Sharp Minor, K. 247” is a solo for harpsichord written by Domenico Scarlatti for is a softly meditative single-movement keyboard sonata. This opus reflects its instrumental melodies over animated accompaniments, periodically consisting of single-line counterpoints or more chordal material. At the beginning, there is an imitation between the voices.

“A Scene in the Roman Compagna” (1736) was created by Flemish painter Jan Frans van Bloemen, 1662-1749, a famous Rococo (late Baroque) painter. The painting represents a scene with a capriccio view and a stroke of lightning in the Roman Campagna. Van Bloemen, as in his other Arcadian landscapes, demonstrates his mastery in depicting various atmospheric phenomena. The sensation of the storm that moved over the landscape conveyed by the dark clouds that are driven by a wind and trees that bend under wind’s force. The lightning’s motif, distinctive for many Bloemen’s paintings, had never been as dramatic as it presented in this canvas.

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