GCSE Music AOS1 Handel Edexcel

Includes features of the baroque era and all the information needed for a section B question :)

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Baroque Era

  • Ornamented melody parts
  • Establishment of major/minor key system, instead of modes
  • The use of diatonic chords
  • Continuous bass
  • Different musical textures e.g. monophonic, homophonic and poly phonic
  • The use of the baroque orchestra, based on new members of the string family with the harpsichord. Also, trumpets, horns and timpni were used. Woodwind istruments were not standard.
  • Contrasting dynamics (loud and quiet)
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General Information

  • Composed 1741
  • First performed- Dublin 1742
  • Words by Charles Jennens taken from the bible (old testimant?)
  • Genre- Chorus from an oratorio
  • Style- Baroque
  • 4 motifs and SATB choir
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Metre, Tempo and Rhythm

¾  - Simple Triple


  • Mostly allegro- fast
  • Adagio- slow at the end


  • Motif 1-crotchets, dotted crotchets
  • Motifs 2+3- Quavers and crotchets
  • Motif 4- minims, dotted minims and crotchets
  • Hemiola at the end of the ritornello
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Tonality and Harmony


  • A major- 3#s (F#,C# and G#)
  • Some key modulations/changes- A to E(dominant key) to B to E to A


·         A mixture of major/minor chords which are diatonic (belong to a key)

·         Frequent cadences:

o   Perfect- end of introduction (V-I)

o   Plagal- at the end ‘Amen’ (IV-I)

·         Handel mainly uses root positions and first inversion chords

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Use of instruments

·         SATB choir- Soprano, Alto, Tenor & Bass with male altos (sung falsetto)

·         String Orchestra (Violin I&II, Viola), Cello continuo and Bass and organ/ harpsichord (depending on the recording)  playing a figured bass (a kind of music notation used to indicate intervals and chords based around a bass note, written below)

·         Opening- Orchestra plays on its own

·         Choir is always accompanied by the orchestra (or figured bass)

·         Instruments often double the voice part in octaves (lower or higher)

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·         In Ritornello form – ‘little returns’

·         Opening introduction played by the orchestra is called ritornellos, uses motifs 1 & 2

·         Shorter versions of the sections appear within the piece

·         In-between the choir sings with the orchestra

·         There are 4 main themes/motifs- each one represents a line of the text (see melody)

·         The final four bars, marked adagio, act as the ‘Amen’ (plagal cadence) for the whole chorus

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Texture and Dynamics


·         Opening- melody and accompaniment

·         Homophonic at the end for ‘hath spoken it’

·         Unison between tenors and basses for Motif 4

·         ‘throw’ motifs around and imitate each other

·         Polyphonic mostly (all parts doing different things)

·         Contrapuntal


·         Handel did not write dynamics--- terraced dynamics --- how loud depends how many layers there are

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