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Jeruba's avatar

How did Handel manifest the Doctrine of Affection in his early Baroque arias?

Asked by Jeruba (51114points) November 23rd, 2009

This question is for lostinyoureyes.

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20 Answers

sliceswiththings's avatar

No, it’s for me! Thanks:) Getting my notes out…here we go.

sliceswiththings's avatar

The Doctrine of Affections was key in musical development in the 17th century. Basically, it encompasses several “humors” of humankind and attempts to cause these emotions through music. A lot had already been accomplished through Medieval and Renaissance music…musical styles had become more complex and virtuosity had made its mark. The focus turned from the artists and performers to the audience with the development of affect. Rene Descartes expressed that “emotions and passions arise from the power of external impulses acting on the human body and the human mind.” This is enacted trough tempo, tone color, instrumentation, etc. Baroque works are typically based on a single affect maintained through an entire movement. Arias from baroque operas and oratorios are clear in expressing affect. Handel is one of the most famous Baroque composers who is responsible for many early operas. Included in these are Joshua and Hercules, each of which has arias with strong affect.

[submitting here because i’m a compulsive “save”-er]

sliceswiththings's avatar

A clearly happy affect is conveyed through Handel’s aria “If I Had Jubal’s Lyre” from Joshua. The instrumentation in the introduction gives a happy vibe. It is fast paced and rhythm and follows a major chord progression. The strings are fast and cheerful, and the high pitch adds the the affect. It would be easy and pleasurable to dance to this music, a happy activity. The affect is strengthened when the vocals enter. The soprano’s voice is high and cheerful, and the tempo remains very fast. The background plays short rhythmic notes below her. The voice part is also very melismatic which gives a more cheerful sound.

Jeruba's avatar

Oops, you’re right—I wrote it too fast. Sorry. I wonder what question lostinyoureyes needs asked.

Do go on, @sliceswiththings.

sliceswiththings's avatar

Haha this could actually work for us procrastinators!

Jeruba's avatar

Keep going. Are you going to talk about Xerxes?

sliceswiththings's avatar

No, the professor picked the arias.

Jeruba's avatar

GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON GO ON

sliceswiththings's avatar

Handel’s aria “Where Shall I Fly” from Hercules conveys a very different affect. The piece has a dramatic start: the instruments play rapid chords followed by a held long note while the soloist comes in. This alternation is maintained for a while, between the soloist and quick chords from the background. The background has a dramatic affect largely because of its minor chords. The quality of the vocalist has a large part of it too: she enunciates key words and has some large jumps, often to high notes, which aid in the dramatic affect. The vocal line is syllabic, which contrasts with the mellismatic qualities of the previous aria. There is an undeniable air of franticness in the instrumentaion. The passages that quickly run high give a rushed quality to the theme of the piece. At one point the singer and the quick frantic background go at once which brings it to a new level.

sliceswiththings's avatar

Disclaimer: this is a very rough draft. I am a good writer, don’t judge it on this. I will do a lot of editing after:)

Jeruba's avatar

Keep it up. I am working on my story draft tonight, but I am checking on you.

sliceswiththings's avatar

A lento sections begins on page 225. This communicates a sad affect that compliments the frantic part well. The vocalist sounds very mournful, and the vocal range of this section is much lower which comes off as sad. This is followed by a section which actually sounds happy. The vocalization is very melismatic, which helps the argument made by the previous aria that melismatic vocalization sounds happier. However this section soon returns to the A theme and is equally frantic.

sliceswiththings's avatar

Thanks. What’s your story about?

Jeruba's avatar

No distractions now. I’ll tell you later.

sliceswiththings's avatar

Ha fair enough.

sliceswiththings's avatar

A paragraph for later:
I tested the personal affect of these pieces by performing them myself on the piano and vocals. I immediately felt happy playing this piece, and it took no effort to sound happy singing the aria.

Jeruba's avatar

[A week later] Update? Did you do it?

sliceswiththings's avatar

Not on time, but did a half-assed version:( New paper for that class due Friday, hopefully I’ll do much better! Thanks for the check-in!

h2osprey's avatar

I was actually writing a paper on a related topic when I stumbled upon this while trying to google for material. Nice.

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