In the Spotlight Next: Instruments

The Baroque Era: In a Nutshell

Instrumental Music

The Baroque era was the first time in history that instrumental music began to take importance along with and over vocal music. Here is when orchestration was born as composers specified which instruments played which parts rather than using them interchangeably. During this time, there were also advancements in making instruments. String instruments were made using gut string and woodwind instruments were entirely made of wood. Trumpets were still evolving, but were used in solo roles in the orchestra because of their volume. They were often paired with large kettle drums known as the timpani. Keyboards also became popular during this time. The most important keyboard instruments included the organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. One of the most common instrumental pieces in this era was the sonata, written for one to six parts and made up of contrasting sections. There were two types: sonata da camera, chamber music form, and the sonata da chisea, the church sonata. The concerto also came about at this time and had two types: the concerto grosso and the concerto solo. Originally in an Italian form, the concerto spread to Europe and was embraced by German composers like Bach and Handel.