Teaching Students About the Doctrine Of Affections
The Doctrine of Affections is a crucial concept for understanding the emotional expression used in Baroque music. Often overlooked due to its historical nature, reintroducing the doctrine into modern music curricula can not only provide our students with a better understanding of Baroque compositions, but also offer them valuable insights into artistic intentionality and emotional communication.
In this article, we will explore the historical background of the Doctrine of Affections, discuss its relevance for teaching today’s students, and offer practical tips on how to integrate it into lesson plans.
The Doctrine of Affections emerged during the 17th and 18th centuries, at the height of the Baroque period. It is primarily grounded in German aesthetics, influenced by contemporary philosophy, literature, and science. Johann Mattheson (1681-1764), a composer and theorist who pioneered research on musical affects (or affetti), helped popularize this concept by claiming that music has the power to elicit specific emotions in listeners.
At its core, the Doctrine of Affections holds that music should be designed to evoke distinct emotions. These emotions were often pre-determined by the composers themselves and could be manipulated through combinations of various musical elements such as pitch, rhythm, melody, harmony, and orchestration. The idea was that each affect had a corresponding musical device that could evoke it – for example, sadness might be represented by a slow tempo combined with a minor key.
Relevance for Modern Music Education
Though the Doctrine of Affections might seem outdated compared to contemporary ideas about emotional expression in music, it still offers valuable insights for our students today. By exploring the doctrine’s principles and learning to identify these intentional emotional connections within pieces composed during the Baroque period, students will develop critical listening skills and a more nuanced understanding of creative intentionality.
Furthermore, understanding that music was once viewed as a powerful tool for evoking emotions could prompt interesting discussion and analysis in the classroom. Students might compare and contrast how music engages them emotionally today, compared to how it may have affected listeners in the Baroque period. This could lead to a deeper appreciation for the evolution of emotional expression in music through time.
Practical Tips for Teaching
When introducing the Doctrine of Affections to students, it’s important to provide historical context and explore exemplary works from the Baroque period. Here are some suggestions on how to integrate it into your lesson plans:
1. Begin with an overview of Baroque music and the philosophical ideas underpinning the Doctrine of Affections.
2. Analyze specific works, such as those by Bach, Handel, or Vivaldi, to identify which specific emotions were intended to be evoked and which musical tools were employed.
3. Encourage class discussion on how different musical devices might be used to express various emotions in both Baroque and contemporary music.
4. Assign students to compose short pieces using the principles of the Doctrine of Affections, offering guidance on harnessing specific musical devices and techniques.