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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.
Baroque music forms a major portion of the classical music canon, being widely studied,
performed, and listened to. Composers of the baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach,
George Frideric Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, Jean-Baptiste Lully,
Arcangelo Corelli, Claudio Monteverdi, Jean-Philippe Rameau and Henry Purcell.

Baroque music describes a style of European classical music approximately extending


from 1600 to 1750.[1] This era is said to begin in music after the Renaissance and was
followed by the Classical era. The word "baroque" came from the Portuguese word
barroco, meaning "misshapen pearl",[2] a strikingly fitting characterization of the
architecture of this period; later, the name came to be applied also to its music.

INSTRUMENTS STRINGS WINDS BRASS KEYBOARDS


Violin Flute Trumpet Harpsichord Viola Oboe Trombone Organ Violoncello Bassoon
Horn Viol Recorder Sackbut Contrabass Harp Lute

A belief in music as a potent tool of communication


One of the major philosophical currents in baroque music comes from the Renaissance
interest in ideas from ancient Greece and Rome. The Greeks and Romans believed that
music was a powerful tool of communication and could arouse any emotion in its
listeners. As a result of the revival of these ideas, composers became increasingly aware
of music’s potential power, and cultivated the belief that their own compositions could
have similar effects if they correctly emulated ancient music. As French humanist scholar
Artus Thomas described a performance in the late sixteenth century,
I have ofttimes heard it said of Sieur Claudin Le Jeune (who has, without wishing
to slight anyone, far surpassed the musicians of ages past in his understanding of
these matters) that he had sung an air (which he had composed in parts)…and that
when this air was rehearsed at a private concert it caused a gentleman there to put
hand to arms and begin swearing out loud, so that it seemed impossible to prevent
him from attacking someone: whereupon Claudin began singing another air…
which rendered the gentleman as calm as before. This has been confirmed to me
since by several who were there. Such is the power and force of melody, rhythm
and harmony over the mind.
In 1605, the Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi actually defined a “first” and “second”
practice: in the first, harmony and counterpoint took precedence over the text; in the
second, the need to express the meaning of the words surpassed any other concern. In the
baroque, it is the spirit of the second practice—using the power of music to communicate
—that came to dominate the era.
The realities of patronage
Any discussion of a baroque composer’s artistic philosophy should be tempered, at least
slightly, by the reality of their lives. In modern times, artists frequently earn a living
producing exactly the kind of art they are moved to create. Accordingly, we often think
of the artist—and the degree of his or her artistic inspiration—as the starting point for a
work of art. Throughout much of the baroque era, however, composers only earned a
living writing music if they were fortunate enough to be on the payroll of a political or
religious institution. The musical needs of that institution, therefore, dictated the music
the composer produced. Bach wrote the number of cantatas he did, for example, not
necessarily because he found the form inspirational, but because of the liturgical demands
of the Leipzig church that employed him. When viewed in this light, baroque music can
provide a fascinating window into history.
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