How Bach's Style Is Distinct From Vivaldi's

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Hu Zhenqi 24 June 2011 MRLC Mr.Ryan HOW BACH’S STYLE IS DISTINCT FROM VIVALDI’S Bach and Vivaldi are two of the most well known composers in the Baroque period. They have similarities and differences in their style of composition. This essay would focus on their differences in style. Their styles are different in many ways and most people would focus on their use of melody, harmony or rhythm but this essay would focus on their use of basso continuo. The way Bach uses basso continuo in his music is what makes Bach’s style distinct from Vivaldi’s. A style is a way in which something is done, expressed or performed and everyone has his or her own unique style in doing something or in this case, music. Basso continuo is a system of notation, which, means “continuous bass” in Italian. In this system, a composer writes only the melody and bass, leaving it to the performers to fill in the appropriate chords or inner parts. The bass and chords were played on one or more continuo instruments, typically harpsichord, organ or lute. Firstly, in Bach’s music, the basso continuo instrument, the harpsichord, tends to be playing a melody while in Vivaldi’s music, it tends to be playing chords. When the harpsichord is playing a melody, the music feels more layered, as there is one additional melody in the music as well as other individual melodies played by the other instruments in the piece of music. On the other hand, when the harpsichord plays chords it is contributing to the harmony rather than melody and in other words, accompanies the melodies played by other instruments in the music and helps create more depth in the music. This is evident from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto 5, Movement 1, measures 21-28 and Vivaldi’s Spring, Movement 1, measures 56-59. In both of the evidence, one can see the basso continuo instrument plays a melody and chords, respectively.

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