MusicHistory of baroque music
History of baroque music

History of baroque music

Baroque music is a period of Western classical music that lasted from about 1600 to 1750 AD. This period is divided into three main phases: early, middle and late, and its timeline is mainly dated from 1580 to 1750. Baroque music is one of the most classical western musics and is studied, performed and listened to by many.

During the Baroque period, common tonality was used to write music, and professional musicians were also expected to improvise on solo and accompaniment melodic lines. This period was also associated with the development of the bass figure as an approach to notating chord progressions. Also, baroque music made changes in musical notation and playing techniques of instruments.You can download and listen to any kind of music in melorafy.

Baroque music was recognized as a means of expression and communication and was used as a main component of classical music. During this period, dense and complex polyphony and rich harmonies were used, and compositional forms such as opera, cantata, and oratorio were established. This period has had a significant impact on the techniques and forms of classical music and has attracted outstanding works by famous composers such as George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach.

History of baroque music

After beginning in Italy, Baroque music spread throughout Europe thanks to composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel.

Origin in Italy:

History of baroque music

Early Baroque music centered in Italy. Italian composers based in and around Rome created music that was based on Renaissance traditions, but also expanded its harmonic and decorative boundaries. Prominent Italian Baroque composers include Alessandro Scarlatti (and his son Domenico Scarlatti), Antonio Corelli and Claudio Montehordi. Antonio Vivaldi was the last great Italian Baroque composer. He worked in the late Baroque period and overlapped with George Frideric Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach.

German influence:

As musicians traveled throughout Europe, the Baroque style gained attention and new composers added new elements. The English composer Henry Purcell and French composers such as Jean-Baptiste Lully and Jean-Philippe Rameau left their mark, but it was the German school of Baroque music that had the greatest influence. Georg Philipp Telemann, Michael Praetorius, Johann Pachelbel, and most of all Johann Sebastian Bach helped define the heyday of the Baroque. Another prominent German was George Frideric Handel, although he spent almost his entire career in England.

End of a period:

The end of the Baroque era is tied to Bach’s death in 1750. The second half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century marks the classical period, where composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Joseph Haydn laid the foundation for the Baroque.

Baroque etymology:

The etymology of the term “baroque” is probably derived from the French baroque (which originally meant irregular pearl) and the Portuguese baroque (“irregular pearl”). Spanish Baroque and Italian Baroque are also related to it. The term “baroque” is generally used by music historians to describe a wide range of styles from a broad geographic area, mainly in Europe, developed over a period of about 150 years.

In philosophical terms, “baroque” was used to mean complicated and unnecessary scientific reasoning, and from the 13th century onwards it was used as a technical term in scholastic logic. The systematic use of the term “baroque” in music is relatively recent, having been systematically applied to music in 1919 by Kurt Sachs.

From the 1940s onwards, the term was officially adopted in musical circles and is widely used to describe various types of music from the Baroque spectrum. The term refers to music created during the roughly 150-year period from about 1600 to 1750 in Europe, and is distinguished from earlier (Renaissance) and later (Classical) periods of music history.

Early Baroque period

During the early Baroque period, a group of humanists, musicians, poets, and intellectuals came together in Florence, Italy, called the Florentine Camera under the patronage of Count Giovanni de Berdi, to guide new approaches in art, especially music. Based on the ideologies of classical music, especially ancient Greek music, they emphasized its value for discourse and presentation.

In the field of music, they tried to reject the concepts that existed and were used until now. Instead of using multiple and independent music for each melodic voice, they moved towards instrumental and polyphonic music. They were also inspired by ancient musical instruments such as the monody (which consisted of a solo vocal accompanied by a guitar). These changes led to the emergence of opera as a new musical genre, notably beginning with operas such as “Dafne” and “L’Euridice” by Jacopo Peri.

Baroque etymology:

In the field of music theory, the revision of the use of bass figure (or full bass) as an important part of polyphonic linearity showed the meaning of creating harmony and counterpoint. Harmony is the end result of counterpoint, and the bass figure provides a visual representation of that harmony. In this strategy, numbers, accidentals, or symbols were placed on the bass line to guide keyboard players such as harpsichords or pipe players during the performance. These changes in the development of harmony led to the creation of new dissonances in chords that were used to create a sense of variety and change in musical works. Also, the use of tritone (an unstable interval) in the harmonies gave more fame to the music.

By combining these innovative ideas, Claudio Montordi facilitated the transition from Renaissance to Baroque music. He developed two distinct styles of composition: the first called the Renaissance polyphonic heritage (prima pratica) and the second called the Baroque continuo basso technique (seconda pratica). The continuation of the basso led to the formation of small groups that included bass line and chord players who provided melodic accompaniment. These basso continuo groups usually consisted of keyboard players and an oud (a bass instrument) player who played the bass line and improvised multiple chords and bass instruments. These changes led to the development of opera as an important musical genre in the Baroque period.

Idiomatic instrumental textures were increasingly emphasized. In particular, the “lute breeze” style, with its irregular and unpredictable chords as opposed to the regular patterns of broken chords, was established as a constant pattern in French music from the early 20th century by Robert Ballard. This pattern was later transferred to keyboard music, for example in the works of Louis Couperin and Jean-Henri d’Englebert. The influences of this pattern were significant in keyboard music during the 18th and early 19th centuries, particularly in the works of musicians such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Frédéric Chopin.

Characteristics of Baroque music:

Baroque music had unique characteristics that set it apart from other periods of music. Some important characteristics of baroque music are:

Dynamics and dynamism:

Baroque music placed great emphasis on dynamics. This period created new dynamic possibilities in music with the introduction of the pianoforte as the main keyboard instrument and other instruments such as the violin and valve trumpet. This allowed the songs to still be played at a low to loud volume.

Instrumental music:

Characteristics of Baroque music:

Baroque music became known as the time when instrumental music became increasingly popular. This type of music relied on instrumental combinations of different instruments, and some famous Baroque pieces, such as Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, belong to this category.


Baroque music paid much attention to decorations. Even simple melodies were decorated with trill, asiacatura, appoggiatura, mordent, and turn. These decorations provided the beauty and enrichment of the music.


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