• Beethoven 5:dadada DUMMM.....dadada DUMMM.....
  • Tchaikovsky 4:DAAA....dadada da da DAAA....dadada da da dadaaada DAAA
  • Mars:dadada da da da-da-da. dadada da da da-da-da.
  • Moldau:dadida dadida da. *plink* dadida dadida da. *plink*
  • Dvorak cello concerto:DAAA...dadi DAAA. DAAA...dadi DAAA. DAA di DAA di DAA. BWAAA BWAAA...
  • 4'33":
  • Rhapsody in blue:brrrr...badidadidadidaDIDADIDADIDADIDADIDAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH
You see, my dear friend, I am made up of contradictions, and I have reached a very mature age without resting upon anything positive, without having calmed my restless spirit either by religion or philosophy. Undoubtedly I should have gone mad but for music.
—  P. I. Tchaikovsky,
letter to Nadezhda von Meck

Music has always provided emotional enhancement to the expressive powers of verse. During the Renaissance, music theory focused on music as an extension of a text. Using the terms of Greco-Roman communication theory, Renaissance thinkers categorized music as an element of rhetoric, that is, the persuasive, engaging, emotional aspect of discourse. Baroque thinkers also conceived of music as rhetoric, but they added to this a rationalist belief in the objective, scientifically definable nature of the emotions.

In 1649 the French mathematician and philosopher, Rene Descartes (1596-1650), wrote Les passions de l’me (The Passions of the Soul), the best statement of that era’s understanding of emotions such as of love, hate, joy, sadness, anger, fear, or exhaltation. The emotions had an objective nature which was susceptible to rational description, particularly in the language of music. Baroque composers used varied musical descriptions of a given emotion as building blocks of a particular piece.

Baroque musicians were not concerned with expressing their own feelings and emotions, rather they sought to describe with objectivity, feelings and emotions which were distinct from what they actually felt. One result of the musicians’ distancing themselves from the emotions they depicted was a certain emotional detachment. Some critics have, as a result, found Baroque music to be somewhat cold. However, this evaluation ignores the ultimate goal of Baroque music, a goal attained then as now when Baroque music is properly performed. Composers’ and performers’ skillful and accurate musical depictions of objectively described emotions did and still do evoke emotional, feeling responses in its listeners. Baroque music stirs “the passions of the soul”.

A distinctive feature of Baroque music is that each piece (or single movement within a multi-movement piece) limits itself to only one of the emotions. Baroque thematic development is thus quite different from the later Classical thematic development which juxtaposed themes of contrasting emotional content in the same piece. The particular emotion being described in a given piece is called that piece’s affect. 

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