Baroque Music

Ever wondered what music people listened to in 1600-1800?

Why is Baroque music important?

The Baroque Era lasted from 1600-1800 and brought about a new style of music that shifted from a freedom in rhythm, to a constant drive and movement in rhythm. Intervals in the music were altered by new instruments and new styles of music were introduced. There was a high demand for baroque music in churches, aristocratic courts, opera houses, and municipalities. Opera became very popular and the combination of instruments and vocals became popular. Instruments including the organ, clavichord, harpsichord, and the keyboard flourished.
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Musical Forms

During the Baroque Era, music saw a change in tonality. Church modes were simplified into two scales, and were used in all compositions. The two scales included major, which was based on the Ionian mode, and minor, which was based on the Aeolian mode. Equal temperament tuning was an important advancement during this era. By shifting the distance between mathematically pure intervals, keyboards were able to play major and minor compositions in any key.

Genres of Music

During the Baroque Era, opera was the most important new musical form. Operas combined singing and instrumental music with acting, scenery, costumes, and the poetry of libretto being sung. Operas were comprised of both instrumental movements, such as the overture or interlude, as well as vocal movements accompanied by the orchestra. Another important dramatic vocal form of the era was the oratorio, which consisted of arias, recitatives, ensemble numbers, and instrumental sections. The cantata was a new form of the Baroque Era and consisted of three types, including lyric, dramatic, and narrative.
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Musical Instruments

The Baroque Era was the first era in which instrumental music was as important as vocal music. The three most important keyboard instruments of the Era were the organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The organ often included multiple keyboards and pipes that allowed the player to change tone color. The clavichord and harpsichord were both predecessors to the piano.

Composers of the Time

Claudio Monteverdi was one of the earliest opera composers, whose style became the standard in Italy even beyond the Baroque Era.

Florentine Camerata introduced the recitative style of singing, which included declamatory singing that fit the patterns of the text.

Handel was most known for his Italian operas and his English oratorios. He wrote the Italian opera seria, and the English ballad opera.

Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the most prolific composers of the Baroque Era. Bach’s works included secular cantatas, orchestral music, chamber music, keyboard music, and organ music.

Antonio Vivaldi was a prolific composer from Italy. Vivaldi spent most of his life as the music master of the most prominent music conservatory in Venice. Throughout his life, he wrote over 500 concertos and traveled throughout Europe.