Baroque was one of the most significant and influential styles in arts in the first half of the 17th century. Despite the vague Baroque definition, particular features of pieces related to this style are revealed. One of them is extravagance manifested in inner imperfection and inconsistency in architecture, sculpture, and music. In visual arts, a discrepancy is more explicit; a spectator can more easily note forms and colors which do not match each other. Conversely, analyzing music is a more complicated task, which is nevertheless significant, and the issue of purposeful Baroque music’s imperfection should be addressed carefully.
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Karacsony provides an example of Quae moereba, alto aria of the Baroque era, demonstrating the inherent contradiction of this music (48). In particular, according to the lyrics, the aria tells about the grief of Mary, the mother of Jesus, witnessing the torment of her child; at the same time, from a musical point of view, the melody is not composed in a sorrowful way (Karacsony 48). Thus, the story presents one of the most tragic Bible stories, the agonizing death of Jesus, and the critical role of Mary in the story also reveals the composition’s appeal to emotional experiences. However, the tempo is not slow, and tonality is not minor; the cheerful sound of the music contradicts the mournful narrative (Karacsony 48). This discrepancy is shocking, manifesting of extravagance and eccentricity of Baroque music.
Therefore, it is characteristic of Baroque music to have contradictory nature. For instance, Quae moereba demonstrates inconsistency on the level of relationship between lyrics and melody’s structure. Given the vital link between philosophy and art, especially in the Baroque era, it is profound to seek reasons for this inconsistency in terms of philosophical background.
Karácsony, Noémi. “Expressing Reality through Spectacle and Dream in Baroque Art.” Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Braşov, Series VIII: Performing Arts vol. 12, no. 1, 2019, pp. 45-52.