Overview of Baroque Instrumental Music (2022)

Overview of Baroque Instrumental Music (1)

Baroque theatre in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic.

Introduction

Baroque music is a style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750.This era followed the Renaissance, and was followed in turn by the Classical era. The word “baroque” comes from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning misshapen pearl,a negative description of the ornate and heavily ornamented music of this period. Later, the name came to apply also to the architecture of the same period.

During the baroque era, instrumental music became as important as vocal music.

Baroque music forms a major portion of the “classical music” canon, being widely studied, performed, and listened to. Composers of the baroque era includeJohann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Domenico Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Arcangelo Corelli, Tomaso Albinoni, François Couperin, Denis Gaultier, Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Schütz, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Jan Dismas Zelenka, and Johann Pachelbel.

The baroque period saw the creation of 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, cantata, oratorio, concerto, and sonata as musical genres. Many musical terms and concepts from this era are still in use today.

History

The term “baroque” is generally used by music historians to describe a broad range of styles from a wide geographic region, mostly in Europe, composed over a period of approximately 150 years.

Although it was long thought that the word as a critical term was first applied to architecture, in fact it appears earlier in reference to music, in an anonymous, satirical review of the première in October 1733 of Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, printed in the Mercure de France in May 1734. The critic implied that the novelty in this opera was “du barocque,” complaining that the music lacked coherent melody, was filled with unremitting dissonances, constantly changed key and meter, and speedily ran through every compositional device.

The systematic application by historians of the term “baroque” to music of this period is a relatively recent development. In 1919, Curt Sachs became the first to apply the five characteristics of Heinrich Wölfflin’s theory of the baroque systematically to music.Critics were quick to question the attempt to transpose Wölfflin’s categories to music, however, and in the second quarter of the 20th century independent attempts were made byManfred Bukofzer (in Germany and, after his immigration, in America) and by Suzanne Clercx-Lejeune (in Belgium) to use autonomous, technical analysis rather than comparative abstractions, in order to avoid the adaptation of theories based on the plastic arts and literature to music. All of these efforts resulted in appreciable disagreement about time boundaries of the period, especially concerning when it began. In English the term acquired currency only in the 1940s, in the writings of Bukofzer and Paul Henry Lang.

As late as 1960 there was still considerable dispute in academic circles, particularly in France and Britain, whether it was meaningful to lump together music as diverse as that of Jacopo Peri, Domenico Scarlatti, and J.S. Bach under a single rubric. Nevertheless, the term has become widely used and accepted for this broad range of music.It may be helpful to distinguish the baroque from both the preceding (Renaissance) and following (Classical) periods of musical history.

(Video) Baroque Music - A Quick Guide

The baroque period is divided into three major phases: early, middle, and late. Although they overlap in time, they are conventionally dated from 1580 to 1630, from 1630 to 1680, and from 1680 to 1730.

Early Baroque Music (1580–1630)

Overview of Baroque Instrumental Music (2)

Claudio Monteverdi in 1640

The Florentine Camerata was a group of humanists, musicians, poets and intellectuals in late Renaissance Florence who gathered under the patronage of CountGiovanni de’ Bardi to discuss and guide trends in the arts, especially music and drama. In reference to music, they based their ideals on a perception of Classical (especially ancient Greek) musical drama that valued discourse and oration.As such, they rejected their contemporaries’ use of polyphony and instrumental music, and discussed such ancient Greek music devices as monody, which consisted of a solo singing accompanied by a kithara.The early realizations of these ideas, including Jacopo Peri’s Dafne and L’Euridice, marked the beginning of opera,which in turn was somewhat of a catalyst for baroque music.

Concerning music theory, the more widespread use of figured bass (also known as thorough bass) represents the developing importance of harmony as the linear underpinnings of polyphony.Harmony is the end result of counterpoint, and figured bass is a visual representation of those harmonies commonly employed in musical performance.Composers began concerning themselves with harmonic progressions,and also employed the tritone, perceived as an unstable interval,to create dissonance. Investment in harmony had also existed among certain composers in the Renaissance, notably Carlo Gesualdo.However, the use of harmony directed towards tonality, rather than modality, marks the shift from the Renaissance into the baroque period.This led to the idea that chords, rather than notes, could provide a sense of closure—one of the fundamental ideas that became known as tonality.

By incorporating these new aspects of composition, Claudio Monteverdi furthered the transition from the Renaissance style of music to that of the baroque period. He developed two individual styles of composition – the heritage of Renaissance polyphony (prima pratica) and the new basso continuo technique of the baroque (seconda pratica). With the writing of the operas L’Orfeo andL’incoronazione di Poppea among others, Monteverdi brought considerable attention to the new genre of opera.

Middle Baroque Music (1630–1680)

The rise of the centralized court is one of the economic and political features of what is often labelled the Age of Absolutism, personified by Louis XIV of France. The style of palace, and the court system of manners and arts he fostered became the model for the rest of Europe. The realities of rising church and state patronage created the demand for organized public music, as the increasing availability of instruments created the demand for chamber music.

Overview of Baroque Instrumental Music (3)

Jean-Baptiste Lully

The middle baroque period in Italy is defined by the emergence of the cantata, oratorio, and opera during the 1630s, and a new concept of melody and harmony that elevated the status of the music to one of equality with the words, which formerly had been regarded as pre-eminent. The florid, coloratura monody of the early baroque gave way to a simpler, more polished melodic style. These melodies were built from short, cadentially delimited ideas often based on stylized dance patterns drawn from the sarabande or the courante. The harmonies, too, might be simplerthan in the early baroque monody, and the accompanying bass lines were more integrated with the melody, producing a contrapuntal equivalence of the parts that later led to the device of an initial bass anticipation of the aria melody. This harmonic simplification also led to a new formal device of the differentiation of recitative and aria. The most important innovators of this style were the Romans Luigi Rossi and Giacomo Carissimi, who were primarily composers of cantatas and oratorios, respectively, and the Venetian Francesco Cavalli, who was principally an opera composer. Later important practitioners of this style include Antonio Cesti, Giovanni Legrenzi, andAlessandro Stradella.

(Video) Baroque Music - Classical Music from the Baroque Period

The middle baroque had absolutely no bearing at all on the theoretical work of Johann Fux, who systematized the strict counterpoint characteristic of earlier ages in his Gradus ad Paranassum (1725).

One pre-eminent example of a court style composer is Jean-Baptiste Lully. He purchased patents from the monarchy to be the sole composer of operas for the king and to prevent others from having operas staged. He completed 15 lyric tragedies and left unfinished Achille et Polyxène.

Musically, he did not establish the string-dominated norm for orchestras, which was inherited from the Italian opera, and the characteristically French five-part disposition (violins, violas—in hautes-contre, tailles and quintes sizes—and bass violins) had been used in the ballet from the time of Louis XIII. He did, however, introduce this ensemble to the lyric theatre, with the upper parts often doubled by recorders, flutes, and oboes, and the bass by bassoons. Trumpets and kettledrums were frequently added for heroic scenes.

Overview of Baroque Instrumental Music (4)

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Arcangelo Corelli

Arcangelo Corelli is remembered as influential for his achievements on the other side of musical technique—as a violinist who organized violin technique and pedagogy—and in purely instrumental music, particularly his advocacy and development of the concerto grosso. Whereas Lully was ensconced at court, Corelli was one of the first composers to publish widely and have his music performed all over Europe. As with Lully’s stylization and organization of the opera, the concerto grosso is built on strong contrasts—sections alternate between those played by the full orchestra, and those played by a smaller group. Dynamics were “terraced”, that is with a sharp transition from loud to soft and back again. Fast sections and slow sections were juxtaposed against each other. Numbered among his students is Antonio Vivaldi, who later composed hundreds of works based on the principles in Corelli’s trio sonatas and concerti.

In contrast to these composers, Dieterich Buxtehude was not a creature of court but instead was church musician, holding the posts of organist and Werkmeister at the Marienkirche at Lübeck. His duties as Werkmeister involved acting as the secretary, treasurer, and business manager of the church, while his position as organist included playing for all the main services, sometimes in collaboration with other instrumentalists or vocalists, who were also paid by the church. Entirely outside of his official church duties, he organised and directed a concert series known as the Abendmusiken, which included performances of sacred dramatic works regarded by his contemporaries as the equivalent of operas.

Late Baroque Music (1680–1730)

Overview of Baroque Instrumental Music (5)

Johann Sebastian Bach, 1748

(Video) Baroque Music for Studying & Brain Power

The work of George Frederic Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach and their contemporaries, including Domenico Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Georg Philipp Telemann, and others advanced the baroque era to its climax.

Through the work of Johann Fux, the Renaissance style of polyphony was made the basis for the study of composition.

A continuous worker, Handel borrowed from others and often recycled his own material. He was also known for reworking pieces such as the famous Messiah, which premiered in 1742, for available singers and musicians.

Baroque Instruments

String Instruments

Overview of Baroque Instrumental Music (6)

Baroque instruments, including the hurdy gurdy, harpsichord, bass viol, lute, violin, and guitar

(Video) Baroque Music for Relax - History of Baroque Music

  • Violino piccolo
  • Violin
  • Viol
  • Viola
  • Viola d’amore
  • Viola pomposa
  • Tenor violin
  • Cello
  • Contrabass
  • Lute
  • Theorbo
  • Archlute
  • Angélique
  • Mandolin
  • Guitar
  • Harp
  • Hurdy-gurdy

Woodwinds

  • Baroque flute
  • Chalumeau
  • Cortol (also known as Cortholt, Curtall, Oboe family)
  • Dulcian
  • Musette de cour
  • Baroque oboe
  • Rackett
  • Recorder
  • Bassoon

Brasses

  • Cornett
  • Natural horn
  • Baroque trumpet
  • Tromba da tirarsi (also called tromba spezzata)
  • Flatt trumpet
  • Serpent
  • Sackbut (16th- and early 17th-century English name for FR: saquebute, saqueboute; ES: sacabuche; IT: trombone; MHG: busaun, busîne, busune / DE (since the early 17th century) Posaune)
  • Trombone (English name for the same instrument, from the early 18th century)

Keyboards

  • Clavichord
  • Tangent piano
  • Fortepiano – early version of piano
  • Harpsichord
  • Organ

Percussion

  • Baroque timpani
  • Wood snare drum
  • Tenor drum
  • Tambourine
  • Castanets

Styles and forms

Dance Suite

A characteristic baroque form was the dance suite. Some Dance suites by Bach are called partitas, although this term is also used for other collections of pieces. The dance suite often consists of the following movements:

  • Overture – The baroque suite often began with a French overture (“Ouverture” in French), which was followed by a succession of dances of different types, principally the following four:
  • Allemande – Often the first dance of an instrumental suite, the allemande was a very popular dance that had its origins in the German Renaissance era. The allemande was played at a moderate tempo and could start on any beat of the bar.
  • Courante – The second dance is the courante, a lively, French dance in triple meter. The Italian version is called the corrente.
  • Sarabande – The sarabande, a Spanish dance, is the third of the four basic dances, and is one of the slowest of the baroque dances. It is also in triple meter and can start on any beat of the bar, although there is an emphasis on the second beat, creating the characteristic ‘halting’, or iambic rhythm of the sarabande.
  • Gigue – The gigue is an upbeat and lively baroque dance in compound meter, typically the concluding movement of an instrumental suite, and the fourth of its basic dance types. The gigue can start on any beat of the bar and is easily recognized by its rhythmic feel. The gigue originated in the British Isles. Its counterpart in folk music is the jig.

These four dance types (allemande, courante, sarabande, and gigue) make up the majority of 17th-century suites; later suites interpolate one or more additional dances between the sarabande and gigue:

  • Gavotte – The gavotte can be identified by a variety of features; it is in 4/4 time and always starts on the third beat of the bar, although this may sound like the first beat in some cases, as the first and third beats are the strong beats in quadruple time. The gavotte is played at a moderate tempo, although in some cases it may be played faster.
  • Bourrée – The bourrée is similar to the gavotte as it is in 2/2 time although it starts on the second half of the last beat of the bar, creating a different feel to the dance. The bourrée is commonly played at a moderate tempo, although for some composers, such as Handel, it can be taken at a much faster tempo.
  • Minuet – The minuet is perhaps the best-known of the baroque dances in triple meter. It can start on any beat of the bar. In some suites there may be a Minuet I and II, played in succession, with the Minuet I repeated.
  • Passepied – The passepied is a fast dance in binary form and triple meter that originated as a court dance in Brittany.Examples can be found in later suites such as those of Bach and Handel.
  • Rigaudon – The rigaudon is a lively French dance in duple meter, similar to the bourrée, but rhythmically simpler. It originated as a family of closely related southern-French folk dances, traditionally associated with the provinces of Vavarais, Languedoc, Dauphiné, and Provence.

FAQs

What is the characteristics of instrumental music in Baroque? ›

Baroque music uses many types of texture: homophony, imitation, and contrapuntal combinations of contrasting rhythmic and melodic ideas. Even when the texture is imitative, however, there are usually distinct contrasts among voices. In some cases, an independent bass supports two or more melodies in imitation above it.

What is Baroque music summary? ›

Baroque music, a style of music that prevailed during the period from about 1600 to about 1750, known for its grandiose, dramatic, and energetic spirit but also for its stylistic diversity.

What was the most important instrumental genre of the Baroque period? ›

An important type of instrumental music in the Baroque era was the concerto. Two of the greatest composers of concertos were Corelli and Vivaldi. Opera encouraged composers to devise ways of illustrating moods in their music; affecting the listener's emotions became a major objective in composition during this period.

Why do you think that instrumental music became so popular during the Baroque period? ›

The style of palace, and the court system of manners and arts he fostered became the model for the rest of Europe. The realities of rising church and state patronage created the demand for organized public music, as the increasing availability of instruments created the demand for chamber music.

What are the instrumental in Baroque period? ›

Baroque instrumentation

The specific character of a movement is often defined by wind instruments, such as oboe, oboe da caccia, oboe d'amore, flauto traverso, recorder, trumpet, horn, trombone, and timpani.

What is a common feature of Baroque instrumental music quizlet? ›

The rhythmic pulse is regular, consistent, and strong, typically featuring a constantly moving bass line, even when the music is in a slow tempo. The unity of rhythm provides compelling drive and energy that are characteristic of baroque music.

What is the best description in the history of music during Baroque period? ›

The Baroque period was a revolutionary time in music history that saw a full embrace of polyphony, ornamentation, and harmonic sophistication.

Which terms best describe the Baroque style? ›

Explanation: The baroque art is best described with the word drama. ... The Baroque style is characterized by exaggerated motion and clear detail used to produce drama, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture , painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music.

Why is it called Baroque music? ›

Derived from the Portuguese barroco, or “oddly shaped pearl,” the term “baroque” has been widely used since the nineteenth century to describe the period in Western European art music from about 1600 to 1750.

Which is the most important instrumental genre of the baroque era quizlet? ›

The most important orchestral genres of the Baroque era were the concerto and the concerto grosso.

How are we going to identify the music of the Baroque period? ›

The Baroque period saw the creation of tonality. During the period, composers and performers used more elaborate musical ornamentation, made changes in musical notation, and developed new instrumental playing techniques.

What is the melody of baroque music? ›

Baroque composers wrote melodies based on major/minor tonality. They used motifs (short melodic phrases) that were repeated and developed and many of the melodies were decorated with ornaments, such as trills. The melodies of the Baroque period also became significantly longer.

What is one characteristic often found in Baroque melodies? ›

Baroque Musical Characteristics

Ornamentation and the use of polyphonic writing can often make the music sound both highly elaborate and on occasions dissonant. Not all baroque period music, however, has the presence of trills and part writing.

When did instrumental music became popular? ›

Instrumental music as a separate genre emerged in the 16th century, gaining considerable momentum in the 17th through a variety of idiomatic pieces.

How many instruments are in a Baroque orchestra? ›

Some were as large as 150 instrumentalists; some were only about 20. This wasn't really standardized until later. However, what instruments were used was a bit more common. Generally, the Baroque orchestra had five sections of instruments: woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings, and harpsichord.

What is the rhythm of baroque music? ›

RHYTHM: Continuous rhythmic drive. TEXTURE: Balance of Homophonic (melody with chordal harmony) and polyphonic textures. TIMBRE: Orchestral - strings, winds and harpsichord with very little percussion.

How would you describe the sound of baroque era instruments compared with modern ones? ›

How would you describe the sound of Baroque-era instruments compared with modern ones? The strings were made of gut rather than the steel used today. In General gut yielded a softer but more penetrating sound.

What are the characteristics of baroque music how would you describe baroque music quizlet? ›

The characteristics of Baroque music is drama, opera, secural,vocal, and instrumental music. 1) Their similar to the Baroque visual art becuase they have drama and emotion in them. 2) Baroque music involved insturments and musical notes while the Baroque visual art has paintings and sculptures.

What was the early baroque characterized by? ›

Early baroque composers favored homophonic texture over the polyphonic texture typical of Renaissance music.

Which characteristic of the harpsichord made it an instrument particularly suitable for baroque music quizlet? ›

Which characteristic of the harpsichord made it an instrument particularly suitable for baroque music? It is not capable of producing gradual changes in dynamics, such as through finger pressure. Early baroque music typically has a ______ texture, whereas late baroque music typically has a ______ texture.

What influenced the Baroque period? ›

In Rome, Florence, and greater Italy, the Catholic church influenced the Baroque period. Baroque art and architecture in this region emphasized the grandeur of Catholic liturgy, which it merged with tones of realism and classicism from transitional artists like Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

What does Baroque mean and what is the style characterized by? ›

Baroque came to English from the French word barroque, meaning "irregularly shaped." At first, the word in French was used mostly to refer to pearls. Eventually, it came to describe an extravagant style of art characterized by curving lines, gilt, and gold.

What are the five major characteristics of Baroque art? ›

What are the five major characteristics of Baroque art? Motion, Space, Time, Dramatic use of light and passionate theatricality.

What is an example of baroque music? ›

A great example of baroque music is The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, written by Johann Sebastian Bach 300 years ago. It is two-part musical composition for organ written, according to its oldest extant sources. Find out more about this Toccata and Fugue in D minor here.

How did baroque music influence the music of today? ›

Baroque composers also developed an essential aspect of music today, harmonies. Instead of just hearing one pitch and sound, Baroque composers created pieces that had multiple sounds and pitches simultaneously. Harmonies are something we still use today, and it's actually rare to hear music without harmony!

Is baroque music popular? ›

Baroque music first enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the 1970s and has never looked back. Nowadays, the works of major figures like Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Couperin continue to be in the public eye, as are those of their lesser-known contemporaries.

What are the 5 characteristics of Baroque period music? ›

What are the main characteristics of the Baroque era? The main characteristics of Baroque Era society were humanism and the increasing secularization of society. The music characteristics of the Baroque Era included fast movement, ornamentation, dramatic alterations in tempo and volume, and expressiveness.

What are the characteristics of the Baroque period? ›

Some of the qualities most frequently associated with the Baroque are grandeur, sensuous richness, drama, vitality, movement, tension, emotional exuberance, and a tendency to blur distinctions between the various arts.

What is the instrumental music of Renaissance? ›

Common instrumental genres were the toccata, prelude, ricercar, and canzona. Dances played by instrumental ensembles (or sometimes sung) included the basse danse (It. bassadanza), tourdion, saltarello, pavane, galliard, allemande, courante, bransle, canarie, piva, and lavolta.

What characterizes the art of the early instrumental virtuosos? ›

What characterizes the art of the early instrumental virtuosos? They improvised music that was rarely written down.

Which best describes a Baroque music? ›

Baroque music is a style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. ... The Baroque period saw the creation of tonality. During the period, composers and performers used more elaborate musical ornamentation, made changes in musical notation, and developed new instrumental playing techniques.

How do you identify Baroque music? ›

Baroque music is characterised by: long flowing melodic lines often using ornamentation (decorative notes such as trills and turns) contrast between loud and soft, solo and ensemble. a contrapuntal texture where two or more melodic lines are combined.

What is the best description in the history of music during Baroque period? ›

The Baroque period was a revolutionary time in music history that saw a full embrace of polyphony, ornamentation, and harmonic sophistication.

Which terms best describe the Baroque style? ›

Explanation: The baroque art is best described with the word drama. ... The Baroque style is characterized by exaggerated motion and clear detail used to produce drama, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture , painting, architecture, literature, dance, and music.

Why is it called the Baroque period? ›

Derived from the Portuguese barroco, or “oddly shaped pearl,” the term “baroque” has been widely used since the nineteenth century to describe the period in Western European art music from about 1600 to 1750.

What influenced the Baroque period? ›

In Rome, Florence, and greater Italy, the Catholic church influenced the Baroque period. Baroque art and architecture in this region emphasized the grandeur of Catholic liturgy, which it merged with tones of realism and classicism from transitional artists like Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

What is the rhythm of Baroque music? ›

RHYTHM: Continuous rhythmic drive. TEXTURE: Balance of Homophonic (melody with chordal harmony) and polyphonic textures. TIMBRE: Orchestral - strings, winds and harpsichord with very little percussion.

What is the melody of baroque music? ›

Baroque composers wrote melodies based on major/minor tonality. They used motifs (short melodic phrases) that were repeated and developed and many of the melodies were decorated with ornaments, such as trills. The melodies of the Baroque period also became significantly longer.

What is the vocal of Baroque period? ›

The vocal forms of the Baroque period were based on the monodic style. The composers put a numeral above or below the bass note, indicating the chord required (thus called figured bass) and the performer filled in the necessary harmony. Baroque vocal forms are the opera, the cantata and the oratorio.

What are the three main sources of instrumental music? ›

What are the three main sources of instrumental music? Dance, virtuosity, and vocal music.

What is an example of baroque music? ›

A great example of baroque music is The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, written by Johann Sebastian Bach 300 years ago. It is two-part musical composition for organ written, according to its oldest extant sources. Find out more about this Toccata and Fugue in D minor here.

Which type of music was prominent in the Baroque? ›

The main genres of the early Baroque vocal music are: madrigal, motet, and opera. The main genres of early Baroque instrumental music include the canzona (also known as the sonata) and suite. The main genres of the late Baroque instru- mental music are the concerto, fugue, and suite.

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