Classical Music Periods- Baroque

Handel’s Harpsichord. The great bulk of the repertoire for harpsichord was composed during its first historical flowering, the Renaissance and Baroque eras.


Emotional, ornamental, and dynamic are perhaps the words that used the most to describe Baroque art, including music. “Baroque” was originated in the Portuguese barroco, (means “oddly shaped pearl”). Since the 19th century, the term “baroque” has been adopted to describe a specific period in Western music from approximately 1600 A. D. to 1750 A. D.. This era followed the Renaissance, and was followed by the Classical era. Music from this period was mainly written and played for churches, opera houses, and the nobility.

Baroque Instruments were quite different from modern ones.

The characteristics of Baroque music.

Baroque music put an emphasis on rigorous precision in the musical texture and composition. Some of its distinctive characteristics ate harmony, polyphony, monody, basso continuo, repetition, sequences, counterpoint and improvisation. Chief among these was the delicate and sophisticated adoption of polyphony and figured bass. Although Medieval and Renaissance musicians did use polyphony to write their pieces, Baroque composers (like J. S. Bach) gave polyphony a more prominent role.

  1. Tonality
Some of Church Modes
Tonality in C major with chord progressions (functional Harmonies)
Monody: Style of accompanied solo song consisting of a vocal line, which is frequently embellished and simple. (From TheFatRat piano cover)
Pachelbel’s Canon: mm. 15–18.
Basso continuo provides the harmonic structure of the music by supplying a bassline and a chord progression. The phrase is often shortened to continuo, and the instrumentalists playing the continuo part are called “the continuo group.”
Basso continuo provides the harmonic structure by supplying a bassline and a chord progression. The phrase is often shortened to continuo, and the instrumentalists playing the continuo part are called “the continuo group.”

Other Features

  • The concerto and concerto grosso
  • Homophony — music with one melodic voice and rhythmically similar accompaniment (this and monody are contrasted with the typical Renaissance texture,polyphony)
  • Dramatic musical forms like opera, dramma per musica
  • New instrumental techniques, like tremolo and pizzicato
  • The da capo aria “enjoyed sureness”.
  • The ritornello aria — repeated short instrumental interruptions of vocal passages.
  • The concertato style — contrast in sound between groups of instruments.
  • Extensive ornamentation

Musical forms

Musicians employed musical ornamentations, made changes in notation, and developed new instrumental playing techniques. Baroque music also expanded the scale, range, and complexity of instrumental composition, and established musical genres such as opera, cantata, oratorio, concerto, and sonata. A good many musical terms and concepts from this era are still in use today.


Vocal: Opera, Zarzuela, Opera seria, Opéra comique, Opera-ballet, Masque, Oratorio, Passion, Cantata, Mass, Anthem, Monody, Chorale


  • Christensen, Thomas Street, and Peter Dejans. Towards Tonality Aspects of Baroque Music Theory. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2007. ISBN 978–90–5867–587–3
  • Cyr, Mary. Essays on the Performance of Baroque Music Opera and Chamber Music in France and England. Variorum collected studies series, 899. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate, 2008. ISBN 978–0–7546–5926–6
  • Foreman, Edward. A Bel Canto Method, or, How to Sing Italian Baroque Music Correctly Based on the Primary Sources. Twentieth century masterworks on singing, v. 12. Minneapolis, Minn: Pro Musica Press, 2006. ISBN 978–1–887117–18–0
  • Hoffer, Brandi (2012). “Sacred German Music in the Thirty Years’ War”, Musical Offerings: Vol. 3: №1, Article 1. Available at
  • Schubert, Peter, and Christoph Neidhöfer. Baroque Counterpoint. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. ISBN 978–0–13–183442–2
  • Schulenberg, David. Music of the Baroque. New York: Oxford UP, 2001. ISBN 978–0–19–512232–9
  • Stauffer, George B. The World of Baroque Music New Perspectives. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006. ISBN 978–0–253–34798–5
  • Strunk, Oliver. Source Readings in Music History. From Classical Antiquity to the Romantic Era. London: Faber & Faber, 1952.



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