All true musicians should know the importance of baroque

Did you know that the Baroque era was the first era in which instrumental music was as important as instrumental music?

Did you also know that up until this time, keyboard instruments were not in tune in every key but due to increasing importance of music and instruments, improvisations were made?

Baroque music was ornate, with many embellishments and complicated passages and we, the Virtual Museum of Music History, want to show you its importance

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The types of instruments played

The types of instruments played during the Baroque Era were very important and contributed to the culture of Baroque music. Keyboard instruments were very popular during the era, and the three most important instruments of this class were the organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The organ included multiple keyboards and large pipes allowing the player to change tone color. The clavichord and harpsichord were both early versions of the modern day piano, showing how important this Baroque time period was. Trumpets were also evolving during this period and many stringed instruments were popular, such as the lyre. Trumpets were also likely paired with large kettle drums called timpani

Advances in instrument making

As you know now, instruments became very important during this era, so people put more time into perfecting instruments. There was a major innovation made to keyboard instruments, which helped them major or minor compositions in any key. This innovation was called Equal Temperament, and it shifted the distance between mathematically pure intervals, which allowed the keyboards to be in tune for every key. Until this time, keyboard instruments had been tuned based on Pythagoras' law of acoustics, which were established before major/minor tonality. This major innovation was KEY in allowing instruments to become so popular during this time. Also, advancements in making stringed instruments were made using gut as sting, and woodwind instruments were al truly made of wood, unlike today.

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Forms of compositions written for various instruments

Two major forms of solo music developed during the Baroque Era for keyboard instruments and they can be divided into two categories, free forms and structured forms. Free forms, suich as the prelude, included embellishments and a feeling of improvisation althought the piece was notated. In a prelude, a simple melody is written and then expanded upon. Structured forms were written according to the rules of counterpoint, including the fugue which was based on a single melody. The melody or theme in a fugue is played in one register and then echoed in others.

One of the most common instrumental pieces in the Baroque Era was the sonata. The sonata was normally written for one to six parts, and made up of contrasting sections. There was a chamber form, Sonata da Camera, and a church form, Sonata da Chiesa (a piece shown above).
Another important instrumental form in the Baroque Era was the concerto. There were two types of concertos, the concerto grosso and the solo concerto. The Grosso was written for two constasting groups of instruments and the Solo was written for a solo instrument.

Purposes of the music written for instruments

The purpose of the music written for instruments and performances of the Baroque Era was to be very rich and ornate. Musicians were expected to improvise and embellish upon what was notated, to make the music more complex and beautiful. There was a high demand during the Baroque Era for new music for specific occasions, and the main source of entertainment for the aristocracy was music. This created the need for elegant music, and led to innovations in instruments and delicate composing of music.

Composers who contributed to the instrumental music genre between 1600-1800

There were many famous and well-known composers during this time period who contributed to this instrumental music genre between 1600 and 1800. Claudio Monteverdi (left) was one of the earliest opera composers. He wrote Orfeo in 1607 which was based on the myth of Orpheus. He became famous for his style and it became the standard in Italy as it brought about the changes signaling the start of the Baroque Era. George Frederic Handel (middle) was a composer of instrumental music as well as operas and English oratorios. His many greats works further pushed the change to Baroque Music and inspired many others to follow his Italian and English styled operas. Another great composer of the time was Johann Sebastian Bach (right), an important Lutheran cantat composer, and overall a prolific composer of many genres. His works included sacred works, secular cantatas, orchestral music, chamber music, keyboard music, and organ music. He is one of the most well-known classical composers in European history.

These three great composers and many others have etched the importance of Baroque Music into history and still continue to inspire today. They show the importance of Baroque Music and the changes that occurred and that would affect the future of music.

Overall, you can see that from the major innovations made to and new importance of instruments in music, the new forms of compositions of these new instruments, and the composers who etched these instruments and their music into history, that the Baroque Era is extremely important to know for any music lover or musician. To finish off, we the Virtual Museum of Music History would like to invite you all to our presentation of various forms of Baroque Music, so that we can do the most we can to remember and appreciate our history