G.F. Handel - Chorus: 'And the Glory of the Lord' from Messiah, HWV 56

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What is the context of this piece?
It is a chorus in section 1 of 'Messiah', an oratorio by Handel
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When was it composed?
1741
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Where was this piece first performed?
Dublin, Ireland
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What style of music is this piece?
Baroque
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What are some key features of Baroque music? (1)
Ornamented melody parts, major and minor keys (as opposed to modal), diatonic chords (I, IV, V, II, VI), and basso continuo (keyboard instrument playing chords, supporting the cello's bass line)
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What are some key features of Baroque music? (2)
Use of monophonic, homophonic and polyphonic textures, a specific mood/affection and terraced dynamics (contrasting dynamics - loud/soft)
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What is the key of this piece?
A major
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What is the time signature of this piece?
3/4
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What is the structure of this piece?
There is no formal structure - starts with an orchestral introduction (a ritornello as it reappears throughout the piece) and the piece is based on combinations of 4 different motifs
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What is the tempo of this piece?
Allegro (fast) until the end where it becomes adagio (slow), creating a stately and grand ending
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What is the instrumentation of this piece?
Baroque orchestra - 1st and 2nd violins, violas, SATB choir and basso continuo (double bass, cello and chamber organ)
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What is an SATB choir?
Soprano (high female), alto (low female), tenor (high male) and bass (low male)
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What is motif A and how would you describe it?
'And the glory the glory of the lord' - First sung by the altos, use of dotted rhythm in bar 2, word setting is entirely syllabic
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What is motif B and how would you describe it?
'Shall be revealed' - First sung by the tenors, the word setting on 'revealed' is melismatic and is a descending sequence
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What is motif C and how would you describe it?
'And all flesh shall see it together' - First sung by the altos, repetition in the melody on 'all flesh, 'shall see it' and 'together' with melismas
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What is motif D and how would you describe it?
'For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it' - First sung by the tenors and basses, only 2 notes (A and B) are used. It is completely syllabic and the duration of the notes are longer and repeated. It is a pedal
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How would you describe the rhythm?
First 3 motifs use mostly crotchets and quavers, 4th motif uses longer notes and is an example of word painting, and hemiolas are used towards cadence points (metre feels like 2/4)
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How would you describe the harmony and tonality?
It is major throughout, starting in A major, it modulates to E major (dominant) and B major (dominant of the dominant). The harmonies are completely diatonic
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How would you describe the texture?
First vocal entry is monophonic, imitation is used throughout, doubling on the 4th motif, homophonic and homorhythmic final cadence. Large contrast in texture which is constantly changing.
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How would you describe the dynamics?
They are determined by the number of parts playing at a time. Terraced dynamics are used for clear contrast. Beginning is quiet, ending has a dramatic rest then a loud cadence
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How would you describe the mood and how is it reinforced?
It is joyful - it is celebrating, glorifying and praising God and is created by the major tonality, the sprightly tempo and the 3/4 metre
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How would you describe the overall word setting?
A mix of syllabic and melismatic, and the phrases are repeated many times.
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What cadence does the piece end on?
A plagal cadence (IV to I)
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Define recitative:
Text is sung in the rhythm of natural speech, concentrating on the text with minimal music
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Define aria:
Solo vocal piece with accompaniment to reflect mood and emotion and elaborate music
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Define oratorio:
A musical work based on words and stories from the bible - contains arias, recitatives and choruses
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What cadences are used throughout the piece and why?
Perfect cadences to reinforce the key
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1741

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What style of music is this piece?

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Card 5

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What are some key features of Baroque music? (1)

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