Introduction to Studying Baroque music

  • Project Tutor: Dr Sam Stadlen
  • Level: C/4 (1st year students)


Aims and content

Aim: To introduce students to the study and performance of music of the Baroque period.

Content: This project will provide students with an introduction to the study and performance of baroque music through analysis of vocal and instrumental pieces, primary and secondary sources, and performance. It will cover topics such as rhetoric, dance forms, and language: areas that played a central role in the composition, performance, and reception of music of this period. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of research, including using library and electronic resources to find and critically assess both period treatises and modern publications. The practical performance applications of this research will also be explored.

The module will be taught through lectures, discussions, performance, and student seminars.


A seminar lasting approximately 20 minutes (10%) and an essay of 2,000-2,500 words (90%) on a topic to be agreed with the module tutor.

Reading and listening

Primary sources:

  • Bach, CPE. Essay on the true art of playing Keyboard Instruments (1753) (trans. Mitchell, W.J.). London: Cassell, 1941.
  • Couperin, François. L’Art de toucher le claveçin (1716/17) (trans./ed. Halford, M.). Port Washington, NY: Alfred Publishing, 1974.
  • Mozart, Leopold. A treatise on the fundamental principles of violin playing (1756) (trans. Knocker, E.). London: OUP, 1948.
  • Quantz, Johann Joachim. On Playing the Flute (1752), 2nd ed. (trans. Edward R. Reilly.). Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2001.
  • Raguenet, François. A Comparison Between the French and Italian Musick and Opera’s, anonymous English translation. London, 1709 (available as microfilm in the Raymond Burton Library).

Secondary sources:

  • Anthony, James R. French Baroque Muisc. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1974.
  • Bianconi, L. Music in the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  • Buelow, G.J. ed. The Late Baroque Era. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1994.
  • _______. A History of Baroque Music. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004.
  • Donington, Robert. Baroque Music: Style and Performance. London: Faber Music, 1982.
  • Hill, John W. Baroque Music: Music in Western Europe 1580-1750. New York/London: 2005.
  • Palisca, Claude V. Baroque Music. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1991.
  • Price, C. ed. The Early Baroque Era. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice Hall, 1994.
  • Ranum, Patricia M. The Harmonic Orator: The Phrasing and Rhetoric of the Melody in French Baroque Airs. [Hillsdale, NY]: Pendragon Press, 2001.
  • Schulenberg, David. Music of the Baroque. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Strunk, Oliver ed. Source Readings in Music History. New York/London: W. W. Norton and Company, 1998.
  • Tarling, Judy. The Weapons of Rhetoric. St Albans: Corda Music, 2005.
  • Wilson, David K (trans./ed.). Georg Muffat on Performance Practice. Bloomington, IL: Indiana University Press, 2001.


  • Ansermet, Claudine & Cherici, Paolo. Benigne de Bacilly: L'art de bien chanter (2006). CD Stradivarius.
  • Cocset, Bruno, Baroque cello. 6 Suites a Violoncello Solo Senza Basso [J.S. Bach] (2002). CD Alpha Productions.
  • Devine, S., & Kenny, E., Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Henry Purcell: Dido & Aeneas (2009). CD Chaconne.
  • Harnoncourt, N., Concentus Musicus Wien. Claudio Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (1968). CD Teldec Classics International.
  • Kirkby, E. Purcell: Songs & Airs (1983). CD L’Oiseau Lyre.
  • Manze, A., North, N., & Toll, J. Biber Violin Sonatas (1995). CD Harmonia Mundi.
  • Manze, A., Egarr R. Corelli: Violin Sonatas, Op. 5, Nos. 1-12 - Complete (2003). CD Harmonia Mundi.
  • McCreesh, Paul, Gabrielli Consort & Players. Bach: St Matthew Passion (Matthäus-Passion) (2003). CD Archiv Produktion.
  • Savall, J., Le Concert Des Nations. Lully - L’Orchestre Du Roi Soleil (2003). CD Alia Vox, 7 619986 398075.
  • Savall, J., Hantaï, P. Marin Marais: Pièces de Viole du Second Livre (2003). CD Alia Vox, 7619986098289.
  • Seymour, Peter, Yorkshire Baroque Soloists & Choir. Bach: St John Passion (2010). CD Signum Records.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the taught part of the module all students should:

  • be familiar with the various national styles in use during the 17th and 18th centuries
  • know where to find primary sources and how to read and interpret them critically
  • have an understanding of the issues, ideas and controversies that affect historically informed performance practice
  • be able to perform Baroque music with knowledge of the styles, philosophies and techniques employed by musicians of the time
  • be familiar with reading and performing from facsimiles of period music editions.

On completion of their independent work for this module, students should:

  • be able to explore and comment upon musicological issues in writing by referring to both historical treatises and modern sources
  • have a more in-depth knowledge of their chosen subject area
  • demonstrate learning outcomes A1-A8.