Baroque music is a style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. The word baroquecomes from the Portuguese word barroco, meaningmisshapen 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.

The typical orchestra of the Baroque period is based on string instruments (violin, viola) and continuo. What is continuo? Is the typical bass group of the period and  consists of a group of instruments, depending upon the other instruments playing and the performance location. A continuous bass is the rule in Baroque music.

Who were the major baroque composers and where were they from?

Many of the well known personalities from the first part of the baroque period hail from Italy, including Monteverdi, Corelli and Vivaldi. By the mid eighteenth century, our focus shifts to the German composers Bach and Handel. Many of the forms identified with baroque music originated in Italy, including the cantata, concerto, sonata, oratorio and opera. Although Italy played a vital role in the development of these genres, however, new concepts of what it meant to be a nation increased the imperative of a “national style.” Differences between nations are often audible in music from the period, not only in the way music was composed, but also in conventions of performance.

The baroque era in the modern age

Although the baroque period ended over 250 years ago, vestiges of the era can be heard everywhere.  Some of the most influential and beloved compositions are regularly performed in concert halls, and a wealth of recordings make the baroque available on demand. Many of the musical genres still in use today, like the oratorio, concerto and opera  and snippets of Bach and Vivaldi frequently appear in the solos of heavy metal guitarists.

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