1000’s Gregorian Chant

Mass for Christmas Day

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Composer: Anonymous 

Psalm tones= repeated notes on the reciting tone

Melodies for Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) are syllabic/neumatic and stepwise

Melodies for Proper (Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion) are more melismatic and elaborate

Rhythm: unmetered, but with regular pulse

Texture: monophonic and sometimes responsorial

Mid 12th century Liturgical Drama

Ordo Virtutum

Composer: Hildegard von Bingen

Melody: Latin plainchant (non mass text)

Rhythm/Meter: unmetered but with regular pulse

Texture: monophonic, sometimes with drone

Late 12th century Troubadour Song

A Chantar (canso)

Composer: Comtessa Beatriz de Dia

Melody: arch-shaped, sung in vernacular

Form: AAB (bar form), strophic

Rhythm/Meter: unmetered but with regular pulse

Texture: monophonic, sometimes with drone

Early 12th century Aquitanian Polyphony

Jubilemus, Exultemus

Composer: Anonymous

Melody: mix of syllabic and melismastic

Harmony: All cadences on perfect consonances

Rhythm/Meter: not metered but with regular pulse

Texture: Polyphonic, either discant (voices move at the same rate) or florid organum (upper voice sings many notes against the tenor)

Late 12th century Notre Dame Polyphony

Viderunt Omnes (organum duplum)

Composer: Leonin

Melody: extremely melismatic

Rhythm/Meter: Use of rhythmic modes, bouncy triple feel with repeated rhythmic cell (often, long-short)

Texture: organal voice (high) plus slow-moving tenor (low)

Early 13th century Notre Dame Polyphony

Viderunt Omnes (organum quadruplum)

Composer: Perotin

Melody: extremely melismatic, contains voice exchanges and complementary phrases

Rhythm/Meter: Use of rhythmic modes, bouncy and triple feel

Texture: 3 and 4 total voices

Early 13th century Minnelied


Composer: Walther von del Vogelweide

Melody: German troubadour= tuneful melodies

Form: Bar form, AAB

Rhythm/Meter: dance-like, not clearly specified

Texture: accompanied monophony

Early 13th century Motet

Motets on Tenor Dominus

Composer: Anonymous

Melody: Stepwise and syllabic with occasional skips, vernacular text

Rhythm/Meter: Still based on rhythmic modes

Texture: Motetus (upper, texted voice) and slower tenor

Late 13th Musical Play

Jeu de Robin et de Marion

Composer: Adam de la Halle

Melody: tuneful, drawn from a lyric poem

Form: Rondeau, ABaabAB

Rhythm/Meter: not strictly notated, dance-like

Texture: monophonic

Late 13th century Cantiga

Cantiga 159: Non sofre Santa Maria

Composer: Alfonso X El Sabio

Melody: narrow and stepwise

Form: AAB plus refrain

Rhythm/Meter: dance-like, steady duple or triple meter

Texture: varies, can be solo for verse and chorus for refrain plus instruments

Late 13th century Estampie

La Quarte Estampie Royal

Composer: Anonymous

Melody: narrow

Form: paired phrases (ouvert and clos)

Rhythm/Meter: bouncy and dance-like, usually triple meter

Texture: buzzy and reedy instruments, sometimes pipe and tabor

Late 13th century Franconian Motet

Da me dame vient

Composer: Adam de la Halle

Melody: mostly stepwise and syllabic, two separate texts!!

Harmony: most (not all) cadences on perfect intervals

Rhythm/Meter: triple meter, Use of Franconian notation allow some experimentation outside of rhythmic modes. Each voice has its own character

Texture: adds duplum and triplum in same range, lots of voice crossing

Early 14th century Isorhythmic Motet

Cum statua Nabucodonasor

Ars Nova

Composer: Phillipe de Vitry

Melody: Two separate texts, use of hocket

Harmony: same as late 13th motets

Form: determined by isorhythm, tenor cycles through repeating rhythmic pattern (talea) and repeating melodic pattern (color, 24 pitches)

Rhythm/Meter: generally triple meter, more rhythmic diversity. 3:1 ratio in measure length (upper to tenor)

Texture: isorhythmic tenor, texted duplum, texted triplum

Mid 14th century Chanson (Ars Nova)

Rose, liz, printemps, verdure

Ars Nova

Composer: Guillaume de Machaut

Melody: syllabic/neumatic with melismas at cadences and also at beginning

Harmony: thirds more frequent, double leading tone cadences

Form: Rondeau: ABaAabAB

Rhythm/Meter: clear metrical pulse

Texture: tenor, contratenor, texted cantus and triplum

Late 14th century Mass

La Messe de Nostre Dame

Composer: Guillaume de Machaut

Melody: alternation of sustain and rapid motion (akin to alternation of pillars and windows in a gothic cathedral)

Harmony: frequent 3rds and 6th, double leading tone cadences, stable 

Form: four-note talea in tenor, 12-measure talea in contratenor

Rhythm/Meter: use of hocket, eighth note syncopations

Texture: four voices: tenor and contratenos (isorhythmic), motetus and triplum

Late 14th century Chanson (Ars Subtilior)

En Remirant vo douce pourtraiture

Ars Subtilior

Composer: Phillipus da Caserta

Melody: lots of melisma=hard to understand text

Harmony: quite a bit of dissonance in the contratenor

Form: Ballade: aabCx3, perfect time and major prolation= 9/8

Rhythm/Meter: radical syncopations, cross-rhythms 5- and 7-lets, hemiolas, 

Texture: cantus (top) has melody, supported by contratenor (middle) and tenor

Late 14th century Trecento Song

Composer: Francesco Landini

Melody: syllabic and stepwise, melismas at cadences, smoother than Machaut

Harmony: Landini cadence (6 up to 1, 2 down to 1), use of 3rds and 6ths

Form: Ballata AbbbA including ripresa

Rhythm/Meter: triple meter, varied rhythms, syncopation

Texture: cantus (texted), contratenor and tenor

Early 15th century Motet

Composer: John Dunstable

Melody: syllabic with brief melismas at cadences

Harmony: strong tonal center, “pervasive consonance” and avoidance of parallel perfect intervals 

Form: free form and guided by text (not isorhythm or c.f.)

Rhythm/Meter: slow triple meter, varied rhythm

Texture: largely homophonic, all 3 relatively equal voices move and declaim together, 

Early 15th century Burgundian Mass

Composer: Guillaume Du Fay

Melody: very melismatic, particular in upper voices. stepwise but skips are not uncommon. 

Harmony: passing and suspension dissonances, fauxbourdon (chant, 4th above and 3rd below)

Form: use of the golden section, “head motive” in each movement

Rhythm/Meter: cf heard at different speeds, rhythmic diversity in top voices

Texture: more equal than previous generations

Early 15th century hymn

Composer: Guillaume Du Fay


Harmony: lots of successive 6/3 sonorities (fauxbourdon), embellished Landini cadences

Form: alternation of soloists (polyphony) and chorus (monophony)

Rhythm/Meter: triple meter, top voices identical rhythms

Texture: three polyphonic voices, mostly homorhythmic particularly in the upper voices

Early 15th century Chanson

Composer: Guillaume Du Fay

Melody: smooth and declamatory (trecento)

Harmony: some casual dissonance (no strong English influence yet)

Form: ballade- aabC x two stanzas

Rhythm/Meter: hemiolas and syncopations (ars nova), rapid passages and long-short (ars subtilior), change of meter (trecento)

Texture: 3 voices always singing/playing

1450-1480 Chanson

Composer: Antoine Busnoys

Melody: fewer leaps than previous gen., shorter melismas

Harmony: most cadences approached by step in top voice, some elided cadences

Form: last gen. to use formes fixes, virelai AbbaA

Rhythm/Meter: smoother rhythmically than previous gen. mensuration (meter) changes for b section

Texture: all 3 voices equally flowing and interesting. tenor and cantus share range. contratenor below. Use of imitation! some homophony

1450-1480 Mass

Composer: Johannes Ockeghem

Melody: very long, melismatic phrases

Harmony: triadic sonorities + suspensions and PT’s, cadences few and far between

Form: “paraphrase mass” using a hymn melody as a subject for imitation, series of double mensuration canons

Rhythm/Meter: phrases start with long durations and progress to smaller durations “drive to the cadence”

Texture: French characteristic: ongoing movement (vs English/Italian clarity). 4 mostly equal voices in different combinations

1480-1520 Motet

Composer: Josquin des Prez

Melody: same as previous gen., clear text

Harmony: same as previous gen, cadences more frequently elided

Form: free form to fit text

Rhythm/Meter: duple meter, smooth and almost entirely unsyncopated, “drive to the cadence”

Texture: 4 equal voices, alternating imitation and homophony (in sections with lots of text), frequent duets and texture shifts 

1480-1520 Mass

Composer: Josquin des Prez

Melody: same as previous gen. some text repetition to fit musical rhythm

Harmony: same as previous previous gen.

Form: “Paraphrase Mass” using a hymn melody as subjects for imitation

Rhythm/Meter: smooth and simple

Texture: 4 equal voices, varied order of entries, voice combinations, intervals of imitation

1480-1520 Chanson

Composer: Josquin des Prez

Melody: each line gets a distinct musical phrase to fit the rhythm and meaning

Harmony: phrases close on perfect consonances

Form: fit to the text

Rhythm/Meter: smooth rhythms and consistent meter

Texture: 4 equal voices in alternating homophonic combinations and imitation

1480-1520 Villancico

Composer: Juan del Encina

Melody: stepwise and syllabic with some embellishment during performance

Harmony: triadic but not tonal

Form: varied, but always include estribillo (refrain), coplas (stanzas), and a mundaza (literally “the change” which begins each stanza)

Rhythm/Meter: triple or compound meter, bouncy and dance-like rhythm

Texture: melody in top voice, 2-3 lower voices can be sung or played

1480-1520 Frottola

Composer: Marchetto Cara

Melody: narrow, stepwise melodies in short phrases. syllabic but with long melismas at phrase ending

Harmony: triadic but not tonal

Form: varies but contains a refrain

Rhythm/Meter: triple or compound meter, bouncy and dance-like, some use of hemiola

Texture: top melody voice + 3 instruments playing lower parts

1520-1560 Chorale

Composer: Martin Luther

Melody: short, syllabic and meant for amateurs

Harmony:  Ionian mode (associated with hymns of faith)

Form: AAB, both A and B end with the same music

Rhythm/Meter: very simple and duple

Texture: monophonic, can be doubled at the 8ve

1520-1560 Madrigal

Composer: Jacques Arcadelt

Melody: medium-length phrases, syllabic and meant for amateurs. lots of text-painting!

Harmony: simple and triadic, not tonal

Form: free to suit the text

Rhythm/Meter: smooth rhythm, ocassional syncopation

Texture: 4 equal voices, alternating homophony and imitation (close together)

1520-1560 Parisian Chanson

Composer: Claudin de Sermisy

Melody: light-hearted words, syllabic and simple, no text-painting

Harmony: root position triads

Form: repetitive, AAB strophes, sectional!

Rhythm/Meter: lively rhythms

Texture: 4 homophonic voices

1520-1560 Dance Music

Composer: Tielman Susato

Melody: short phrases, stepwise

Harmony: simple and triadic

Form: Basse Dance- binary AB, Pavane-AABBCC

Rhythm/Meter: can be stately and duple or lively and triple

Texture: lute, keyboard, or consorts (groups) of similar instruments. 4 homophonic voices

1520-1560 Intabulation and Variation Set

Composer: Luis de Narvarez

Melody: A transcription of previous gen. chanson (Josquin), with embellishments added: turns, trills, and runs, especially in highest voice

Harmony: like Josquin

Form: variation set, new figuration introduced over the same phrases, harmonic plan, and cadences

Rhythm/Meter: “elastic” tempo and rhythm

Texture: 3-4 voices, top voice is most important. some imitation in the lower voices

1560-1600 Mass/Motet

Composer: Giovanni Pergolesi de Palestrina

Melody: melodies tend to have downward or arch contour. mix of syllabic and melismatic. Clear text!

Harmony: carefully prepared and resolved dissonance (PT, NT, sus, cambiatas)

Rhythm/Meter: very smooth rhythm, ocassional syncopations at phrase beginnings

Texture: 4-6 voices, alternating homophony and imitation (often in duets or trios), different combinations of voices

1560-1600 Anthem

Composer: William Byrd

Melody: similar to Palestrina but less clear text. energetic and angular vocal lines

Harmony: more frequent cadences than Palestrina


Texture: homophony is rare and used for effect,


sung in English (sacred music with vernacular text because of the Reformation)

1560-1600 Chanson

La nuict froide et sombre

Composer: Orlande de Lassus

Melody: very syllabic, mix of skips, leaps and steps

Harmony: provides structure and meaningful contrast. First half focuses on scale degrees 1 and 2. Second half (light) on FM (III).

Form: two parts, according to text division

Rhythm/Meter: lots of syncopation, especially into suspensions

Texture: 4 equal voices, mix of homophony and polyphony

1560-1600 Italian Madrigal

Io Parto e non piu dissi

Composer: Carlo Gesualdo






1560-1600 English Madrigal

As Vesta Was

Composer: Thomas Weelkes

Melody: tuneful, short phrases (amateurs). syllabic and melismatic sections. Lots of word-painting

Harmony: thick chromaticism

Form: five rhymed couplets

Rhythm/Meter: self-contained sections with frequent pauses. bouncier and livelier than Italian madrigals

Texture: 5-6 voices, alternation between homophony and imitative polyphony, variety of voice combos

1560-1600 Lute Song

Flow, My Tears

Composer: John Dowland

Melody: text-painting not possible when stanzas repeat to the same music, but it does evoke tears and sadness, lots of leaps, syllabic

Harmony: minor-sounding but with modal voice-leading

Form: Pavane (slow, processional dance)- AABBCC, opening motive as basis for entire piece (1-5 descent)

Rhythm/Meter: duple meter, quicker rhythms in the lute part

Texture: lute and voice

1560-1600 Variation Set

John come kiss me now

Composer: William Byrd

Melody: variations on a popular song melody (short, simple, memorable), melody is always audible, lots of embellishments

Harmony: Renaissance dance harmony

Form: Renaissance dance form

Rhythm/Meter: distinctive rhythmic pattern, motive or technique for each variation

Texture: virginal (harpischord)

1560-1600 Ensemble Canzona

Canzon Septimi Toni a 8, from Sacrae Symphoniae

Composer: Giovanni Gabrieli

Melody: some long passages of quick movement

Harmony: frequent cadences, clearly defined

Form: refrain after each section

Rhythm/Meter: strongly rhythmic motives

Texture: two brass choirs (8 total players), sometimes strings, equal and antiphonal writing, + basso continuo on organs

1600-1650 Solo Madrigal

Composer: Guilio Caccini

Melody: embellished

Harmony: seconda prattica

Rhythm/Meter: relatively rhythm, tempo is flexible

Timbre/Texture: solo voice + continuo


1600-1650 Madrigal

Composer: Claudio Monteverdi

Melody: short, stepwise phrases. text setting is syllabic with a few melismas. Word painting is common

Harmony: Seconda prattica- can break cpt rules to set the text. As a result, unprepared dissonances. Still modal

Rhythm/Meter: treated elastically in performance

Timbre/Texture: 5-6 voices. alternation of homophony, imitative polyphony with close points of imitation. varied combinations of voices. A capella, doubled with viols, or with continuo


1600-1650 Ricercar

Composer: Girolamo Frescobaldi

Melody: Subject and countersubject are very short and simple phrases

Harmony: modal and lightly chromatic


Timbre/Texture: Subject and countersubject played fugally but not a fully formed fugue


1600-1650 Solo Cantata

Composer: Barbara Strozzi

Melody: Italian text, melody depends on section


Rhythm/Meter: elastic for recit, flexible for arioso, steady simple rhythms for aria

Timbre/Texture: voice + continuo

Form: sections of recit, arioso, aria

1600-1650 Toccata

Composer: Girolamo Frescobaldi

Melody: highly embellished and ornament (especially in outer voices), idiomatic to keyboard

Harmony: still mostly modal, light chromaticism

Rhythm/Meter: played elastically

Timbre/Texture: organ or harpsichord, moving lines that stay relatively close together

Form: no set form. rapid movement between styles and idioms

1600-1650 Sonata

Composer: Biagio Marini

Melody: idomatic writing (eg- double stops for vln)

Harmony: modal, some chromaticism


Timbre/Texture: violin (or other) +keyboard/continuo

Form: mix of styles/idioms

1600-1650 Sacred Concerto (German)

Composer: Heinrich Schutz

Melody: sometimes like a solo motet with more than one soloist



Timbre/Texture: Choir(s), strings, brass, soloists and continuo played on organ

Form: mix of recit, aria/arioso, sinfonia, cori spezzati, and Renaissance imitative polyphony

1600-1650 Opera

Composer: Claudio Monteverdi

Melody: Recitative: narrow and syllabic

Arias (Canzonettas): tuneful melodies with simple, syllabic rhythms

Harmony: seconda prattica


Timbre/Texture: voice usually accompanied by continuo, full ensemble present for sinfonias and ritornellos

Form: short instrumental sinfonias introduce each scene. Canzonetta-style arias are strophic with ritornellos between each strophe. Quick changes between recit, arioso, aria, and interludes

1600-1650 Sacred Concerto (Latin)

Composer: Giovanni Gabrieli




Timbre/Texture: Choir(s), brass, soloists, strings and continuo played on organ

Form: moves between recit, aria/arioso, sinfonias, cori spezzati (double choirs of brass/singers), and Renaissance imitative polyphony

1600-1650 Solo Motet

Composer: Alessandro Grandi

Melody: Latin text, depends on section


Rhythm/Meter: elastic for recit, steady but flexible for arioso, steady simple rhythms for aria

Timbre/Texture: voice + continuo

Form: mix of recit, arioso, and aria

1600-1650 Oratorio

Composer: Giacomo Carissimi

Melody: same as opera. text more often in Latin

Harmony: same as opera


Timbre/Texture: instrumental ensemble is hardly present. Double choirs used occasionally

Form: same as opera

1650-1700 Opera (Italian)

Composer: Antonio Cesti

Melody: tuneful, simple, long/lyrical, stepwise w/ occasional leaps

Harmony: diatonic w/ expressive chromaticism

Rhythm/Meter: simple rhythms

Texture: voice accompanied by continuo AND reduced ensemble

Form: strophic with short sinfonias introducing each strophe

1650-1700 Opera (French)

aka “Tragedie Lyrique”

Composer: Jean-Baptiste Lully

Melody: short and declamatory (compared to Italian)

Harmony: tonal w/ moderate chromaticism, especially for villians

Rhythm/Meter: Recit carefully follows declamation of text

Texture:  Vocals accompanied only by continuo. Lully’s orchestra had more than one instrument per part so sounds denser

Form: Scenes begin with orchestral introduction, move quickly between styles (dance, recit, air)

1650-1750 French Overture

Composer: Jean-Baptiste Lully


Harmony: tonal w/ occasional chromaticism

Rhythm/Meter: “note inegales” dotted rhythms 

Texture: orchestral

Form: Two repeated sections. Slow, then contrapuntal/fugal

1650-1700 Opera (English)

Composer: Henry Purcell

Melody: Tuneful, simple w/ occasional melisma

Harmony: simple and diatonic

Rhythm/Meter: simple

Texture: strings+continuo. reduced ensemble accompanies vocal parts along with continuo

Form: style changes are less quick than French. Arias are longer (often passacaglia-based). Chorus is more important than in French or Italian opera

1650-1700 Grand Motet

Composer: Jean-Baptiste Lully

Melody: short and declamatory w/ melismas in solo sections

Harmony: simple and diatonic 

Rhythm/Meter: use of notes inegales. written 8ths performed as dotted

Texture: Two choruses, soloists, strings, (and possibly winds/brass), plus continuo

Form: alternating sections of interludes, solos, and homophonic choral writing

1650-1700 Keyboard Suite

Composer: Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre

Melody: highly embellished with “agrements”

Harmony: generally diatonic with light chromaticism

Rhythm/Meter: varies by movement

Texture: fairly thin, 4 pt. counterpoint. harmonies are arpeggiated (style luthe/brise)

Form: binary form (except preludes and chaccones). A section modulates to V, B returns to I

1650-1700 Trio Sonata

Composer: Arcangelo Corelli

Melody: Fast mvt: tuneful and playful, leaps and runs

Slow mvt: embellished and ornamented, or little at all

Harmony: mostly diatonic, occasional modulation

Rhythm/Meter: fast mvts are dance-based

Texture: fast mvt: contrapuntal and imitative

slow mvt: suspension chains and chordal textures

Form: 4 mvts, slow-fast-slow-fast. Fast are sometimes binary form

1650-1700 Organ Prelude

Composer: Dietrich Buxtehude

Melody: long phrases, virtuosic, embellished and ornamented with runs/turns/trills

Harmony: diatonic but with (frequent) modulations


Texture: alternation of fugal and free counterpoint. 4-6 equal moving voices

Form: little transition between sections, frequent style changes

1700-1740 Opera (Italian)

Composer: Georg Friedrich Handel

Melody: long and highly virtuosic/embellished with runs/trills/leaps.

Harmony: relatively diatonic


Texture: strings dominate but reeds/brass also present. Reduced ensemble and continuo accompany voice

Form: A: Ritornello in I, mod. to V followed by phrase from ritornello in V. Mod. back I, complete ritornello

B: short in contrasting key

A: returns with added ornamentation

1700-1740 Opera (French)

Composer: Jean-Phillipe Rameau

Melody: first to codify tonal theory! very triadic melodies, short phrases and declamatory text-setting

Harmony: more dissonant than previous generations, favors 7th, 9th chords, + intervals, chromaticism

Rhythm/Meter: favors dotted rhythms

Timbre/Texture: Standard orchestra, denser than Italian



1700-1740 Cantata (Italian)

Composer: Alessandro Scarlatti

Melody: same as Handel’s opera: virtuosic and embellished, long phrases

Harmony: more chromatic and dissonant than Handel, same modulation scheme


Timbre/Texture: voice and continuo only 

Form: alternating recit/aria. Da Capo form but sometimes no full ritornello at end of A section

1700-1740 Cantata (German)

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

Melody: lots of leaps, highly embellished (particulary in arias). Long chordal runs not uncommon

Harmony: very chromatic but not very dissonant. frequent and quick modulations


Timbre/Texture: few strings plus others (records/reeds/brass) and continuo

Form: often based on a chorale (AAB, bar form), treated in imitation or as a slowed down cantus firmus. Arias are in da capo

1700-1740 Oratorio/Passion (German)

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

Melody: lots of leaps, highly embellished

Harmony: very chromatic but not dissonant, frequent and quick modulations


Timbre/Texture: double choir and full baroque orchestra

Form: Arias in da capo, chorale-based 

1700-1740 Oratorio (English)

Composer: Georg Friedrich Handel

similar to Italian opera: da capo arias, vocal phrases are long, virtuosic, and embellished. May feature accompanied (metered) recitative. Choruses resemble Bach’s but are less chromatic

1700-1740 Concerto

Composer: Antonio Vivaldi

Melody: long, virtuosic phrases with runs/trills/arpeggios/double-stops. ritornellos are 2-4 short phrases

Harmony: simple and diatonic. ritornellos are stable, solos modulate


Timbre/Texture: string ensemble, soloist accompanied by basso continuo. little interaction between orch/soloist

Form: alternating ritornellos and solo passages

1700-1740 Keyboard Suite

Composer: Francois Couperin

Melody: highly embellished with agrements but not virtuosic. Usually explore a single character

Harmony: light chromaticism and typical binary form modulations. thick chords result in some dissonace

Rhythm/Meter: use of dance rhythms like the previous generation

Timbre/Texture: dense textures with thick chords, outer voices are structural. 4 voices

Form: binary form

1700-1740 Organ Prelude and Fugue

Composer: JS Bach or Dietrich Buxtehude

Melody: highly virtousic, more a series of contrapuntal figures than a real melody

Harmony: highly chromatic, frequent modulations

Rhythm/Meter: free treatment of tempo/rhythm

Timbre/Texture/Form: opening section in free counterpoint, sometime based on a chorale melody (chorale prelude). fugues contain an exposition (each voice enters with subject), then alternation of free cpt with entrances of the subject in 4-6 voices


1700-1740 Keyboard Prelude and Fugue

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

Melody: short contrapuntal figures appear in one hand and migrate to the other. these are teaching pieces, so same figure is typically repeated to focus on one skill

Harmony: very chromatic, frequent quick modulations

Rhythm/Meter: sometime uses dance rhythms

Timbre/Texture: Fugues are like organ fugues but with only 4 voices.


1730-1755 Opera Buffa

La Serva Padrona: Recit and Aria

Composer: Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

Melody: much less elaborate than Handel’s opera. syllabic text setting and short, simple, contrasting phrases. Characters can express complex emotions

Harmony: almost entirely diatonic


Timbre/Texture: small orchestra. strings + continuo with minimal accompaniment for vocals

Form: Da capo form

1745-1770 Opera Seria

Orfeo ed Euridice: Act II- Scene 1

Composer: Christoph Willibald Gluck

Melody: long/lyrical with some leaps and melismas. much more “natural” text setting than baroque

Harmony: diatonic, can be dissonant if required


Timbre/Texture: full winds and brass (including trombones), strings and continuo. Chorus may interject in the middle of an aria (French influence). minimal accompaniment of vocals

Form: some, but not eclusive use of Da Capo form

1730-1755 Piano Sonata (Galant)

Sonata in D major, K 119

Composer: Domenico Scarlatti

Melody: short (4mm), contrasting phrases. triadic, playful, graceful and elegant

Harmony: almost entirely diatonic. Modulations take a long time


Timbre/Texture: piano or harpsichord. almost purely homophonic. LH harmony is sometimes in the form of alberti bass

Form: harpsichord, Rounded binary form. B ends with a short A fragment. New keys associate with new melodies, resulting in long period of tonal stability/instability. 

1755-1770 Piano Sonata (Empfindsamstil)

Sonata in A major H 186

Composer: Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach

Melody: free and rhapsodic melodies, lots of expressive leaps and embellishments. use of scotch snap (short-long)

Harmony: often minor key, light expressive chromaticism

Rhythm/Meter: slow and rhapsodic tempo, treated freely

Timbre/Texture: thin and homophonic

Form: free, or variation of binary or ternary (ABA)

1730-1755 Symphony

Sinfonia a 8 in E-flat major, Op. 11 No. 3

Composer: Johann Stamitz

Melody: short, even, triadic phrases. Galant phrases. new melodic ideas constantly being introduced

Harmony: almost entirely diatonic, modulations take time


Timbre/Texture: string dominate, horns and woodwinds fill out harmony and texture. continuo still present

Form: extended rounded binary form. each new key/transition gets a new theme. free modulatory passage at the beginning of B (development precursor)

1770-1795 Piano Sonata

Piano Sonata in F Major, K 332 I.

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Melody: balanced, triadic phrases usually in antecedent/consequent pairs (periodic phrasing). occasional use of “topics”. two themes contrast

Harmony: almost entirely diatonic, occasional expressive chromaticism. modulations are long


Timbre/Texture: almost entirely homophonic, fragmented and sequenced phrases in the development

Form: First mvts in sonata form, clearly delineated by texture

1770-1795 Piano Concerto

Piano Concerto in A major, K 488

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Melody: balanced, traidic and periodic phrasing. use of topics, two contrasting themes

Harmony: almost entirely diatonic with occasional expressive chromaticism


Timbre: full classical orchestra including full wind section and horns. strings dominate

Texture: more soloist/ensemble interaction than previous generations. strings carry melody when soloist isn’t playing

Form: double-exposition sonata form (combines sonata and ritornello form)

1770-1800 Symphony

Composer: Joseph Haydn

Melody: balanced, triadic, periodic phrases. 

Harmony: almost entirely homophonic with occasional expressive chromaticism


Timbre/Texture: mostly homophonic except development sections. strings typically have the melody

Form: 1st and last movements in sonata form, clearly delineated and sometimes with slow exposition. slow movements (slow sonata, theme and var., rondo) and minuet and trio (two rounded binary forms). Finales can also be in rondo form (ABACABA/ABACBA), rondo A sections are in rounded binary form

1770-1800 String Quartet

Composer: Joseph Hadyn

Melody: balanced, triadic, periodic phrases. two contrasting themes

Harmony: almost entirely diatonic, occasional expressive chromaticism


Timbre/Texture: generally homophonic. 1st violin dominates but each instrument gets melody at least once (meant to entertain all players as well as audience)

Form: first and last tend to be sonata, also minuet and trio and a slow movement. Rondo finales sometimes. Elements of form are clearly delineated by changes in texture

1770-1795 Opera

Don Giovanni: Act I, Scenes 1 and 2

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Melody: long/lyrical, mostly triadic, and often balanced phrases. Text setting by character: lower class=buffa, upper class=drawn-out and closer to opera seria

Harmony: mostly diatonic with dissonance/chromaticism in highly emotional situations


Timbre/Texture: full classical orchestra with full winds/brass. Orchestra supports voices. Mozart is known for small ensemble writing (duets, trios, quartets)

Form: some arias in ABA variations with lots of changes in second A sections. some are entirely through-composed

1800-1830 Symphony

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

Melody: series of organically developing motives, often based on a single rhythmic pattern. short and assymetrical. stately/lyrical contrast between two major themes

Harmony: some light chromaticism and long sections of dissonance. modulations are frequent and quick

Rhythm/Meter: use of rhythm as motive

Timbre/Texture: slightly larger than classical ensemble. winds and brass are mostly equal to strings

Form: Classical forms, but extended. Minuet becomes scherzo. Formal delineations are less obvious

1800-1830 Piano Sonata

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

Melody: deeply expressive and asymmetrical. Can be either a series of small, related motives or long/lyrical

Harmony: dense, pounding chords. a lot more dissonance than Hadyn/Mozart. Modulations are frequent and quick, use of third relationships


Timbre/Texture: Dense

Form: extended classical forms but some “fantasia” like sonata movements. later sonatas may have fugues/fugal passages

1800-1830 String Quartet

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

Melody: Short and expressive. use of juxtaposed topics. series of short spun-out motives followed by a simple folk-like melody. incorporation of vocal genres (recitative, cavatina)

Harmony: alternates between deeply chromatic nad somple diatonic (during naive topics)


Timbre/Texture: relatively equal, but 1st violin typically carries clear melodies

Form: all old forms plus fugues. Often ;4 mvts, played attaca. Some modified forms (sonata-rondo)

1800-1830 Lied/Song Cycle

Composer: Franz Schubert

Melody: lyrical, asymmetrical, and deeply expressive

Harmony: frequent modal mixture, modulations frequent, quick and sometimes to distant keys


Timbre/Texture: piano creates the scene (eg-Gretchen am Spinnrade or Erlkonig)

Form: strophic, modified strophic, or through-composed

1800-1830 Opera (Bel Canto)

Composers: Giachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, Giacomo Meyerbeer

Melody: ornamented and embellished to show off the voice, additional embellishments added by performer. Cantabile (long/lyrical) or Caballeta (lively and bouncy)

Harmony: almost entirely diatonic, with very occasional chromaticism. Modulations are infrequent and quick


Timbre/Texture: orchestra plays supporting pulsing chords or rolling arpeggios. Chorus may be present during arias

Form: Scena (recit fully metered and accompanied), tempo d’Attaco. Aria/Ensemble/Chorus begins with slow section, then medium and fast. cantabile-tempo di mezzo-caballeta.

1800-1830 Opera (Singspiel)

Composer: Carl Maria von Weber

Melody: expressive/lyrical. tet setting is mostly syllabic/declamatory but can be tuneful. Some passages of spoken dialogue and melodrama. Use of popular idioms (waltzes, folk songs, hunting marches)

Harmony: range from simple/diatonic to deeply chromatic and dissonant depending on mood


Timbre/Texture: Use of “colorful” instruments. Orchestra is more active than Italian opera but is mostly used to set the mood. long orchestra passages are common


1830-1860 Symphony

Composer: Robert Schumann

Melody: short and based on a single rhythmic motive. Melodies develop organically from motives and are generally asymmetrical

Harmony: dramatic and light to moderate chromaticism, lots of modal mixture, long sections of dramatic dissonance. Modulations frequent and quick


Timbre/Texture: winds and strings mostly equal, large-scale texture changes less frequent than Mozart/Haydn. similar size to Beethoven’s orchestra


1830-1860 Symphony (Programmatic)

Composer: Hector Berlioz

Melody: clearly definied, often represent characters/ideas, long/lyrical and asymmetrical. Use of quotations for narrative purposes (eg- dies irae)

Harmony: dramatic, light to moderate chromaticism, lots of modal mixture, long sections of dramatic dissonant, frequent and quick modulations


Timbre/Texture: much larger orchestra due to colorful orchestral effects. Use of extended techniques to move the story forward or create drama

Form: adapted to fit the story, vestiges of older forms

1830-1860 Concerto

Composer: Felix Mendelssohn

Melody: mix of lyrical/expressive and virtuosic passages

Harmony: light chromaticism and some modal mixture


Timbre/Texture: same size as non-programmatic symphonies. frequent soloist/ensemble interaction

Form: Sonata form with a cadenza (can be anywhere). first orchestral exposition often absent. obvious formal divisions but not as audible as Haydn/Mozart

1830-1860 Lied/Song Cycle

Composer: Robert Schumann

Melody: long, lyrical, expressive, assymetrical. use of “sigh” figures

Harmony: moderate chromaticism, lots of modal mixture creates ambiguity regard the mode, often feels unresolved or incomplete


Timbre/Texture: same as previous generation

Form: same as previous generation

1830-1860 Piano Trio/Chamber Music

Composer: Clara Schumann

Melody: long, lyrical, expressive, asymmetrical

Harmony: light to moderate chromaticism, some mixture


Timbre/Texture: all instruments play equal roles and have moments. Changing combinations keep texture engaging

Form: generally follows classical formal patterns

1830-1860 Character Piece/Miniature Set

Composer: Robert Schumann

Melody: Depends on character, short motives are developed organically. 1 or 2 main “tunes”

Harmony: light to moderate chromaticism, some mixture and dissonance

Rhythm/Meter: motives have clear rhythmic profiles

Timbre/Texture: written for amateurs, so easy to play

Form: very short, free-form or ABA

1830-1860 Character Piece (Mazurka)

Mazurka in B-flat major, Op. 7 No.1

Composer: Fryderyk Chopin

Melody: dance-like, lively, triadic, balanced, ornaments and augmented seconds (exoticism)

Harmony: mostly diatonic with some expressive chromaticism, modal inflections are also used (lydian)

Rhythm/Meter: triple time with dotted rhythms that emphasize beat 2. rubato performance practice

Timbre/Texture: LH “oom-pa-pa” or drone, RH-melody

Form: ABA or ABACA

1825-1850 Character Piece (Nocturne)

Nocturne in D-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 2

Melody: extremely long, lyrical, expressive, asymetrical. Embellishments and cadenza-like figuration increases as the piece goes on

Harmony: light chromaticism which increases as the piece progresses

Form: songlike, modifed strophic form ABtA’B’tA”B”t Coda

Rhythm/Meter: slow tempo, lots of rubato

Texture: RH-melody, LH-accompaniment (pulsing chords or rolling arpeggios)


1825-1850 Concert Etude

Three Concert Etudes: No. 3 Un Sospiro

Composer: Franz Liszt

Melody: lyrical and expressive, not long, virtuosity and progressive difficulty, use of pentatonic and octatonic collections

Harmony: ranging from diatonic to extremely chromatic, progessively more chromatic. Key scheme divides the octave into thirds (M3 relationships)

Form: AA’B(cadenza)B’cB”cA”B'”


Texture: focus on one particular skill (eg- hand crossing)

1825-1850 Grand/French Opera

Les Huguenots: Conclusion of Act II

Composer: Giacomo Meyerbeer

Melody: Bel canto for protagonists, declamatory style for villians

Harmony: diatonic with expressive chromaticism

Form: historical drama refecting a new view of history

Rhythm/Meter: French= prevalent dotted rhythms

Texture: moderate sized orchestra, subordinate to the vocals

1875-1900 Symphony

Symphony No. 4, IV. Allegro energico e passionato

Composer: Johannes Brahms

Melody: developing variation (melodies develop out a single motive), longer/more lyrical than Schumann

Harmony: Dense, dissonant, deeply chromatic

Form: Classical and Baroque era forms-in this case, a chaconne (variations)


Texture: dense and contrapuntal, “squirmy” inner voices. winds/brass/strings all equal

1860-1885 Piano Quintet

Quintet for Piano and Strings in f minor, Op. 34- I.

Composer: Johannes

Melody: developing variation- everything can be linked to the first measure

Harmony: dense, dissonant, and chromatic

Form: Sonata form w/ 3 key exposition

Texture: string quartet + piano, dense texture, all instruments take turns playing melody, accompaniment, or counterpoint

1850-1875 Opera (Musikdrama)

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Conclusion of Act I

Composer: Richard Wagner

Melody: vary from speechlike to soaring and passionate, woven from lietmotives- neverending melody (unendliche melodie)

Harmony: extraordinarily dense and dissonant

Form: note divided into numbers! continuously follows the action- orchestra maintains continuity. No distinction recit/aria

Texture: large low-pitched orchestra, voice and orchestra independent and equal

1850-1875 Opera (Italian)

La Traviata- Act III: Scena and Duet

set in its own time with realistic characters, situations and emotion

Composer: Guiseppe Verdi

Melody: both symmetrical and asymmetrical melodies, tuneful/lyrical/expressive even soaring at times. 

Harmony: diatonic with expressive chromaticism, infrequent but quick modulations

Form: Rossini’s duet form: scena (accompanied recit), tempo d’attaca (trading phrases), cantabile (slow and calm), tempo di mezzo (mood is altered), cabaletta (fast, expressing joy/anger)


Texture: moderate sized orchestra playing very rhythmic accompaniment parts

1850-1875 Opera (Russian)

Boris Godunov: Coronation Scene

Composer: Modest Mussorgsky

Melody: narrow, based on Russian speech patterns, some use of folk music

Harmony: tertian sonorities but “common-tone” relationships replace traditional harmonic progression, lots of dissonance and chromaticism
Form: formal “blocks” created from interlocking ostinati, repetition instead of development, juxtaposition instead of transition

Texture: large orchestra featured in long passages without voices, orchestra is subordinate when voices enter