I do not think that word means what you think it means.
So recently I’ve seen a couple of pundits, columnists, and reporters who should know better use “Baroque” to describe something. For example-
Argentina accuses US of judicial malpractice for triggering needless default
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph
7:56PM BST 31 Jul 2014
In a sign of how Baroque this saga has become, Argentina actually tried to wire the payment to US banks in New York but the money was returned in order to comply with a court order, leaving it unclear whether this will trigger credit default swaps on Argentina’s debt worth $1bn. The Argentine press said the government may pay the interest into an escrow account to maintain the goodwill of the main bondholders.
Baroque is an artistic style that uses exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music.
I think, from context, instead they mean Byzantine (definition 4)- overly complex or intricate, or of a devious, usually stealthy manner of practice.
So Baroque is kind of exactly… the opposite.
Now I could waste a lot of time and pixels explaining why the Eastern Roman Empire inspired that kind of definition, but that’s about 1200 years of history and I’d rather talk about music and not misshapen pearls.
Although it was long thought that the word as a critical term was first applied to architecture, in fact it appears earlier in reference to music, in an anonymous, satirical review of the première in October 1733 of Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, printed in the Mercure de France in May 1734. The critic implied that the novelty in this opera was “du barocque,” complaining that the music lacked coherent melody, was filled with unremitting dissonances, constantly changed key and meter, and speedily ran through every compositional device.
Well, that would be “every compositional device” known to the Renaissance where ‘daring’ meant 4 part harmony (with feelin’ and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining how it is to be used in evidence against me. Sucks to have a logical mind, gravity, and a VW Microbus with shovels, rakes, and implements of destruction, I might not be moral enough).
We’ll just wait until it comes around on the Gamba again.
This particular piece by Montaverdi is an example of mid-Baroque and like many was Liturgical in nature, the title translates roughly to “Prayers for the Blessed Virgin” and has 8 part harmony.
Which, though it seems rather pedestrian today, was peculiar in the most unusual way they could cook up back when they were still figuring out how to write music down at all and weren’t even concerned about 12 tone atonalism and serial minimalism (no, I don’t really understand Philip Glass either).
Any who, Obigatories, News, and Blogs below the fold.