In many works, Spanish Baroque music is a mixture of both school and popular music. Rhythms, color, instrumentation, melody and even the harmonic support have a little arabian touch. It developed mostly through popular music, not court music. Then, it was assimilated into the Spanish tradition. The 18th century Spanish were still impressed by the polyphony of the 16th century and continued to compose in that style.
Spanish composers such as Sebasti�n Dur�n (1660-1716), Antonio Literes (1673-1747) and Jos� de Torres (c.1670-1738) used combined rhythms. Literes have a quartet of four voices, each singing a different rhythm with accents falling in different places. Many Spanish composers at that time were not satisfied with the rhythm of the bass and the voice, and added a lot of rhythms with the continuo and the percussion.

Complex rhythms which include a flamenco drum player, for example, recreate this atmosphere. The rythmic changes in Spanish baroque music are constant. The pizzicato string continuo played like guitars, the castanets, the descending tetrachords typical of the malague�a mixed with classic galant always excite the listener.
The tono humano is a Castilian language texted work performed in the context of theatrical productions and as chamber music. As a genre, the tono humano is a vocal composition of one or more voices, usually with a structure that is based on a combination of estribillo (refrain) and coplas (verses). Love, triumph and tragedy are main themes. Within this basic structural pattern, the range of forms and styles is considerable, and may even include a extended passage of Italian style recitative. General stylistic features of the tono humano are the use of lively rhythms (notably hemiola patterns) and an unfailing lyricism.
The theatre music became increasingly important in Spain during the seventeenth century, especially in court circles. There is the amalgam of elements from the court theatre music of France, the operatic innovations of Italy, and the original spanish instrumental and vocal practices. Philip IV was particularly fond of the theatre, and it was during his reign (1621-1665) that music flourished in stage productions of various kinds: the comedia in which tonos humanos were interpolated; the zarzuela, a dramatic entertainment (part sung, part spoken) that might include not only tonos humanos but also recitative and arioso passages; and Italian style opera, though as in England this took some time to establish itself in Spain.
The origin of the zarzuela dates back to the mid-17th Century. Legend says the name originates from a pavillon overgrown with blackberry bushes (zarzas), in a remote section of Madrid�s El Prado Park. Actors gathered at this pavillon to present their plays and to entertain King Philip IV and his entourage. In 1657, the King and Queen attended there the first performance of a comedy by the poet Pedro Calder�n de la Barca with music composed by Juan de Hidalgo: El Laurel de Apolo (Apollo�s Laurel). The playwright Calder�n de la Barca (1600-1681) was involved in all these types of theatrical production. The leading composer of theatre music at court was the harpist Juan Hidalgo (1614-1685) who was also responsible for music for the royal chambers: many of his tonos humanos were undoubtedly composed for this more intimate context, but others, such as "Peyn�ndose estaba un olmo" from the loa (prologue) of "Los celos hacen estrellas" (a zarzuela of 1672), were intended for the stage or may well have had a dual function.
Hidalgo�s near contemporary Jos� Mar�n (c1619-1699) began his career as a tenor in the royal chapel of Philip IV. He composed a large number of tonos humanos for solo voice, many of which, like "Aquella sierra nevada", are preserved in the so-called Cambridge Songbook, a major collection of seventeenth century Spanish songs. The songs intended for performance in the theatre have dramatic changes of metre and chromatic harmonies.
After the death of Hidalgo, the major composer of theatre music at court was Sebasti�n Dur�n (1660-1716); he entered the service of Charles II (who reigned 1665-1700) in 1691 as organist in the royal chapel. The extended recitative introduced before the repeat of estribillo reflects the amalgam of Italian and indigenous elements in many Dur�n works.
In the 18th century, the main theatre music composers were Rodr�guez de Hita, Mis�n, Esteve, Laserna, Castell, Palomino, Rosales, Valledor, Ferandiere, Moral y Terradellas.

The formal sacred music had composers as Joan Pau Pujol (?1573-1626), and an important movement in the Montserrat monastery.
The Iberian peninsula was hardly touched by the Italian revolution, and most of the compositions in the sacred area are closely related to those of the stilo antico. The only significant evolution in these works is the appearance of instrumental support for the voices. Portuguese Rebelo is the most innovative of the group, copying the Venetian style.
Also, elegant and passionate poetry was set as sacred cantatas.
The villancico, a religious genre dating from the 17th century and an early form of the 18th century cantata, makes novel use of arias and recitatives. Since it was based on popular images and made use of vernacular texts it enjoyed tremendous success. Eventually, a villancico could be either secular or sacred. Literes' elegant cantata "Ah del rustico pasto" is a fine example of coloratura writing from the Spanish court.
The coral music composed for 8, 10 and 12 voices, was creation of the Valencian baroque school represented by Joan Baptista COMES (?1582-1643).
The instrumental music had viol, lute, harpsichord, organ and guitar as the preferred instruments of Spanish composers, with preference in expression over technique.
In the seventeenth century flourished a school of keyboard composers. The spanish popular forms were tiento and batalla. Organists were Clavijo Sr, Clavijo Jr, Jos� El�as and Francisco Correa de Arauxo (1575-1663), player of Sevilla, who published a book of organ music: "El libro de los tientos". The main organist was Joan Baptista Jose de Cabanilles (1644-1712), player of valencia cathedral. Antonio Mart�n y Coll (d after 1734) clearly knew Cabanille�s works, copying some of them into the large collection of organ music he compiled in the first decade of the eighteenth century. Four manuscripts contain transcriptions of works by other composers, including pieces by Lully and Corelli, while the fifth book is dedicated to Mart�n y Coll�s own compositions. Sets of variations over simple ground basses or harmonic patterns were much cultivated by Spanish keyboard composers, for example over folia, chacona and canarios.
The harpsichord had a great performer in the 18th century: padre Antonio Soler.
During the 17th century, the baroque Spanish guitar became a popular instrument in Europe and began to progress. After Amat pioneering methodological study, a great number of other studies of the guitar were published starting at the beginning of the 17th century in which, in addition to the strumming style, the technique of other styles like the plucking, or the mixed style would be defined. The most important works in the Iberian peninsula were those of Spanish Gaspar Sanz, Luis de Brize�o, Francisco Guerau and Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz and the Portuguese Doizi de Velasco.
At first, compositions for Spanish guitar were still conditioned by its connection to the dance and rhythmical use of the instrument, but then, the knowledge inherited from the vihuela, especially in the use of the plucking, favoured the appearance of works with greater artistic complexity. With the objective of responding to the increasing musical demands of the guitar, Spanish and Italian composers adopted the system of tablature used by vihuelistas for musical notation adding letters to indicate the chords. Great spanish compositions were Poema harm�nico by Guerau and Instrucci�n de m�sica para guitarra espa�ola (1674), by Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710), that included a variety of popular dances. In baroque period, guitar was performed in theatre plays like the zarzuela, the sainete, the tonadilla and some religious plays like the autos sacramentales.
The dance music is exotic and sensual for those typically Hispanic continuo instruments, double harp and the baroque guitar. The information on performance practice concealed within Ribayaz's 1677 collection of Spanish dances, has restored the characteristic rhythmic swing and the rich expressiveness, the true ayre or mood. Folias, zarabandas, chaconas, espa�oletas are the prefered dances.
It is one of the great mysteries of Spanish music history that hardly any Baroque instrumental music (other than for keyboard) survives, despite the pre-eminence of royal chamber musicians like Hidalgo. Any instrumental repertory that did exist in manuscript must have been destroyed in the terrible fire that swept through the royal palace in Madrid on 1734.
Juan del Vado (fl 1635-1675) was a violinist in the royal chapel in 1635, and, subsequently, organist there. In addition to a number of tonos humanos, the surviving corpus of his works includes Masses, a motet, villancicos and some organ pieces.
The court entertained heavily and music was essential. The big difference between Spain and other European countries was the nobility. In Spain provincial noblemen who were not close to the court had less influence on music than provincial noblemen in Italy and France. Music was developed mainly with important composers at court in Madrid. But the Church was always present, being the Minister of Culture at the time. All major musicians tried to work for the Church, and many were priests. The cathedrals had huge organs, choirs, lots of singers. Works for four choirs could be composed. Felipe IV was a gamba player. He was extremely important to Spanish culture. There is a composition on the death of this king: "Tono la Muerte" for solo soprano and continuo. It can feel through this piece how the composer, Juan del Vado, and other musicians at that time felt about this king.

Baroque music in Spain

Iberian composers in the Baroque period

Baroque music in the New World

List of composers and musicians of Baroque

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