Baroque music describes a style of European Classical Music approximately extending from 1600 to 1750. This era is said to begin in music after the Renaissance and was followed by the Classical era. There is a wide variety of styles across this 150 years.

The word "Baroque" came from the Portuguese word Barroco, meaning "mis-shaped pearl", somethign irregular in shape. It was used to describe the shape of an architecture.  


Medieval (500 – 1400)

Renaissance (1400 – 1600)

Baroque (1600 – 1750)

Classical (1730 – 1820)

Romantic (1815 – 1910)

Impressionist (1890 – 1940)

20th Century (1900 – 2000)

Contemporary (2000 – present)

The general characteristics of Baroque music includes its elaborated rhetorical style, aiming at grand effects. It is nearly always big and impressive in scale and it is highly ornamental and often emotionally very intensed. Other qualities include drama, grandeur, richness, vitality, movement, tension, exuberance, and a tendency to blur distinction between the various arts. Baroque Style was typified by strong contrasts in value and bold ornamentation that added action and drama to the art.

Baroque music forms a major portion of the classical music canon, being widely studied, performed, and listened to. It is associated with some leading composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Claudio Monteverdi, Henry Purcell and many more.

The Baroque period saw the development of functional tonality. During the period, composers and performers used more elaborate musical ornamentation, made changes in musical notation, and developed new instrumental playing techniques. Baroque music expanded the size, range, and complexity of instrumental performance, and also established opera as a musical genre. Many musical terms and concepts from this era are still in use today.

Early Baroque (1600 to 1640)

Around this time marked the development of the opera, oratorio, monody and the importance of words. Forms such as variations, ground bass and strophic forms (i.e. verses) were also gaining popularity.  There were also a gradual importance of the violin family.

Middle Baroque (1640 – 1690)

In Venice, the first public opera house was opened in 1637, which brought about an export of touring opera companies spreading opera to Northern Europe.

This period also marked the importance of melodic line and the establishment of tonality. This gave rise to modulation, which in turn made bigger forms possible.

Another remarkable development is the gradual development of both the keyboard suite and instrumental music. Prior to this period, there was no difference between the vocal and instrumental style.

High Baroque (1690 – 1750)

Around this time, the development of solo and trio sonata in North Italy had gradually taken place. The solo and trio textures had then become more dominant in instrumental music, which by the end of the Baroque period, they were as important as the opera.

With the flow of time, there were also more dintinction between chamber style (suite) and the church style (more solemn movements). Chord relationships and modulations were growing more popular.

~ Written by Boon Sin Ler

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