What is a da capo aria?

The da capo aria is a vocal form used primarily in the Baroque Era. It is in ternary form (ABA’). The A section is in the tonic key, and the B section is often in a minor key with the mood frequently being more reflective. In the repeat of the A section (A’), the singer would demonstrate their vocal virtuosity by improvising and ornamenting the melodic line; the singer would add trills, acciaccaturas, mordents, appoggiaturas, runs, and jumps all to show off their skill as a singer. In the end of the repeated section, it was customary to add a cadenza.

The sheet music would only include the A section and the B section, with a “Da Capo” or “D. C.” in the end, signaling the singer to go back to the A section and improvise. Sometimes, the composer would realize (write out) the ornamented A section, for example “Rejoice greatly” from Handel’s Messiah, but this is rare.

The da capo aria fell out of fashion in the classical era because the focus shifted from the virtuosity of the performer to the beauty of the music. Singers would perform what was written, with ornaments being specified by the composer and not chosen by the singer.


“Rejoice greatly” from Handel’s Messiah

“Da tempeste” from Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto

“Lascia ch’io pianga” from Handel’s Rinaldo

“Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” from the cantata by Bach

Maria Mariana  A. GCSE Music tutor, A Level Music tutor, IB Music tutor

1 year ago

Answered by Maria Mariana , an A Level Music tutor with MyTutor

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist


Lila B. GCSE Music tutor, A Level Music tutor, GCSE English Literatur...
View profile
£22 /hr

Lila B.

Degree: Music (Bachelors) - Bristol University

Subjects offered: Music, -Personal Statements-

-Personal Statements-

“I know how to break down concepts into easily understandable chunks, and I know that I can always remain calm and patient when teaching! :) ”

Adam T. GCSE Music tutor, A Level Music tutor, IB Music tutor, GCSE M...
View profile
£20 /hr

Adam T.

Degree: Music (Bachelors) - York University

Subjects offered: Music, Maths


“About me: I am a Masters student at the University of York. Music is the main and most potent passion in my life, and the study of which I shall pursue for the rest of my life. I have a patient and friendly temperament, and have work...”

MyTutor guarantee

Erik A.
View profile
£20 /hr

Erik A.

Degree: Music (Bachelors) - Oxford, The Queen's College University

Subjects offered: Music, History+ 2 more


“About Me I am a music student at Oxford University. I have always had a real passion for arts and humanities, and I hope my tutorials will encourage you to love them too!  I am very patient and friendly. I have been teaching singing,...”

About the author

Maria Mariana  A. GCSE Music tutor, A Level Music tutor, IB Music tutor
View profile

Maria Mariana A.

Currently unavailable: for regular students

Degree: Music (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: Music


“About Me: Hi, I’m Mariana! I’m a third year music student at Durham and I’m expecting to graduate with a First Class Honours. I am verypatient and sociable. I am very passionate about music and would love to provide support to any G...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Posts by Maria Mariana

How do we prepare for the questions about the set pieces in our exam?

What is a da capo aria?

What is the best approach to analysing an extract?

Other A Level Music questions

What is a da capo aria?

How do I develop a composition?

What are the Renaissance period stylistic features present in Weelke's, 'Sing We at Pleasure'?

What does the classical sonata exposition form consist of?

View A Level Music tutors


We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss