Music in History

Go to content

Main menu

Ritornello

Baroque forms
 
 

                  

 
  Ritornello

 

It is a melodic technique used in a piece or  a movement. It is a repetitive passage for orchestra or choir in baroque music.  Ritornello often consists of sequences.
The term "ritornello form" refers to the first and last part of a Baroque solo concerto, a concerto grosso, or an aria. There, ritornello  is the introductory theme which is played by all (tutti) and returns throughout  the movement  in different keys. This is the difference between Ritornello and  rondo which  returns to the same tonality. The ritornello form  exists  to Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann and Handel very often. Its construction faded  with the advent of sonata form, but people's interest was revived in the 20th century.
During  the 14th century the couplet at the end  of a Madrigal (Madrigal of the 14th century)also  was  called  ritornello. Additionally, some instrumental pieces in early operas of the Baroque period were called "ritornello" .

Ritournelle
Fast dance of the 17th century . Most common in ballets of  Jean Baptiste Lully.



Resources
Willi Apel: Harvard dictionary of music, second edition, eighth printing, ritornello, ritournelle

                                             BWV 207 no 8 ritonello

                                      "Vi Ricorda" from Monteverdi's "Orfeo"

Back to content | Back to main menu