Monday, February 28, 2011

Baroque Music

If the eras of musical evolution were to be compared to the eras of evolution in architecture, then the Middle Ages would be symbolized by the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, the Renaissance by a Florentine building, and the Baroque by Louis XIV's palace at Versailles. Baroque music is very rich and textured, especially in comparison with the music that came before it.
Baroque music describes a style of European classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1750. 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", a strikingly fitting characterization of the architecture of this period; later, the name came to be applied also to its music. 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. The baroque period saw the development offunctional 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.

Difference between Baroque and Renaissance
A general differences between Baroque and Renaissance style. Baroque music was more often written for virtuoso singers and instrumentalists and is characteristically harder to perform than Renaissance music, although idiomatic instrumental writing was one of the most important innovations of the period. Baroque music employs a great deal of ornamentation, which was often improvised by the performer. Instruments came to play a greater part in Baroque music, and a cappella (in church style) vocal music receeded in importance.