Commentary on Handel- And the Glory of the Lord from Messiah

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And the Glory of the Lord from Messiah by Handel

Comment on how Handel uses the following musical elements in this chorus: Tonality and Harmony, Texture, Melody, Rhythm and tempo, word setting. (10)

Tonality and Harmony

And the Glory of the Lord begins in the key of A major and there are modulations to the dominant key of E major (b.24) and then to the dominant of the dominant key of B major (b.68) (secondary dominant). The key then returns to E major and the piece finishes, finally, in A major. Minor keys are avoided, as the words dictate the prevailing joyful mood or ‘affection’ of the music.

Although perfect cadences are used frequently to signify change in key, the piece ends with a plagal cadence in Bar 137 and can be seen as a grand ‘Amen’. Handel often used plagal cadences as endings to his pieces. Functional and diatonic (notes belonging to the key) harmony is used during the piece. Dominant, tonic and inverted pedal notes are also used. Suspensions (tied notes which do not belong to the chord) are witnessed also in the piece, with the first being in Bars 9 and 10. This adds dissonance and melodic decoration. A chain of suspensions appears in Bars 28 to 31, with dissonant notes being suspended in the Alto. Mainly only root position and first inversion chords appear in the piece.

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The texture alternates between homophonic and contrapuntal textures and there are a few short monophonic sections. During the homophonic sections, it is usually the bass singers who hold the melody. Counterpoint (relationship between two or more voices) is often imitative which is when a melody in one part is copied a few notes later while the first melody continues. Handel also alternates between using the full choir and single voice part for effect. Not only this, but the vocal parts are doubled by instruments such as the violins which creates a thick texture.


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