Western classical music
|Common practice period|
|Late 19th-, 20th- and 21st-centuries|
Baroque music ( UK: /bəˈrɒk/ or US: /bəˈroʊk/ ) refers to the period or dominant style of Western classical music composed from about 1600 to 1750.  The Baroque style followed the Renaissance period, and was followed in turn by the Classical period after a short transition, the galant style. The Baroque period is divided into three major phases: early, middle, and late. Overlapping in time, they are conventionally dated from 1580 to 1650, from 1630 to 1700, and from 1680 to 1750. Baroque music forms a major portion of the "classical music" canon, and is now widely studied, performed, and listened to. The term "baroque" comes from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning "misshapen pearl".  The works of George Frideric Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach are considered the pinnacle of the Baroque period. Other key composers of the Baroque era include Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Alessandro Stradella, Antonio Vivaldi, Tomaso Albinoni, Johann Pachelbel, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Arcangelo Corelli, François Couperin, Johann Hermann Schein, Heinrich Schütz, Samuel Scheidt, Dieterich Buxtehude, and others.
The Baroque saw the creation of common-practice tonality, an approach to writing music in which a song or piece is written in a particular key; this type of harmony has continued to be used extensively in Western classical and popular music. During the Baroque era, professional musicians were expected to be accomplished improvisers of both solo melodic lines and accompaniment parts. Baroque concerts were typically accompanied by a basso continuo group (comprising chord-playing instrumentalists such as harpsichordists and lute players improvising chords from a figured bass part) while a group of bass instruments—viol, cello, double bass—played the bassline. A characteristic Baroque form was the dance suite. While the pieces in a dance suite were inspired by actual dance music, dance suites were designed purely for listening, not for accompanying dancers.
During the period composers experimented with finding a fuller sound for each instrumental part (thus creating the orchestra),  made changes in musical notation (the development of figured bass as a quick way to notate the chord progression of a song or piece), and developed new instrumental playing techniques. Baroque music expanded the size, range, and complexity of instrumental performance, and also established the mixed vocal/instrumental forms of opera, cantata and oratorio and the instrumental forms of the solo concerto and sonata as musical genres. Dense, complex polyphonic music, in which multiple independent melody lines were performed simultaneously (a popular example of this is the fugue), was an important part of many Baroque choral and instrumental works. Overall, Baroque music was a tool for expression and communication. 
The etymology of baroque is likely via the French baroque (which originally meant a pearl of irregular shape), and from the Portuguese barroco ("irregular pearl"); also related are the Spanish barrueco and the Italian barocco. The term is of uncertain ultimate origin, but possibly from Latin verrūca ("wart") or possibly from Baroco, a technical term from scholastic logic. 
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 about 150 years.  Though 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. 
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was a musician and composer as well as philosopher, wrote in 1768 in the Encyclopédie : "Baroque music is that in which the harmony is confused, and loaded with modulations and dissonances. The singing is harsh and unnatural, the intonation difficult, and the movement limited. It appears that term comes from the word 'baroco' used by logicians."  Rousseau was referring to the philosophical term baroco , in use since the 13th century to describe a type of elaborate and, for some, unnecessarily complicated academic argument.  
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 by Manfred 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 Johann Sebastian 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.
Throughout the Baroque era, new developments in music originated in Italy, after which it took up to 20 years before they were broadly adopted in rest of the Western classical music practice. For instance, Italian composers switched to the galant style around 1730, while German composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach largely continued to write in the baroque style up to 1750.  
The Florentine Camerata was a group of humanists, musicians, poets and intellectuals in late Renaissance Florence who gathered under the patronage of Count Giovanni 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.  Accordingly, they rejected their contemporaries' use of polyphony (multiple, independent melodic lines) and instrumental music, and discussed such ancient Greek music devices as monody, which consisted of a solo singing accompanied by a kithara (an ancient strummed string instrument).  The early realizations of these ideas, including Jacopo Peri's Dafne and L'Euridice , marked the beginning of opera,  which was 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. With figured bass, numbers, accidentals or symbols were placed above the bassline that was read by keyboard instrument players such as harpsichord players or pipe organists (or lutenists). The numbers, accidentals or symbols indicated to the keyboard player what intervals are to be played above each bass note. The keyboard player would improvise a chord voicing for each bass note.  Composers began concerning themselves with harmonic progressions,  and also employed the tritone, perceived as an unstable interval,  to create dissonance (it was used in the dominant seventh chord and the diminished chord). An interest in harmony had also existed among certain composers in the Renaissance, notably Carlo Gesualdo;  However, the use of harmony directed towards tonality (a focus on a musical key that becomes the "home note" of a piece), rather than modality, marks the shift from the Renaissance into the Baroque period.  This led to the idea that certain sequences of chords, rather than just notes, could provide a sense of closure at the end of a piece—one of the fundamental ideas that became known as tonality.[ citation needed ]
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 basso continuo, a small group of musicians would play the bassline and the chords which formed the accompaniment for a melody. The basso continuo group would typically use one or more keyboard players and a lute player who would play the bassline and improvise the chords and several bass instruments (e.g., bass viola, cello, double bass) which would play the bassline. With the writing of the operas L'Orfeo and L'incoronazione di Poppea among others, Monteverdi brought considerable attention to this new genre.  This Venetian style was taken handily to Germany by Heinrich Schütz, whose diverse style also evolved into the subsequent period.
Idiomatic instrumental textures became increasingly prominent. In particular, the style luthé—the irregular and unpredictable breaking up of chordal progressions, in contrast to the regular patterning of broken chords—referred to since the early 20th century as style brisé , was established as a consistent texture in French music by Robert Ballard,   in his lute books of 1611 and 1614, and by Ennemond Gaultier.  This idiomatic lute figuration was later transferred to the harpsichord, for example in the keyboard music of Louis Couperin and Jean-Henri D'Anglebert, and continued to be an important influence on keyboard music throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries (in, for example, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Frédéric Chopin). 
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, which is music for a small ensemble of instrumentalists. 
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 French king and to prevent others from having operas staged. He completed 15 lyric tragedies and left unfinished Achille et Polyxène.  Lully was an early example of a conductor; he would beat the time with a large staff to keep his ensembles together.
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. 
The middle Baroque period in Italy is defined by the emergence of the vocal styles of 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 simpler than in the early Baroque monody, to show expression in a lighter manner on the string and crescendos and diminuendos on longer notes. 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 (a more spoken part of opera) and aria (a part of opera that used sung melodies). 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, and Alessandro Stradella, who additionally originated the concerto grosso style in his Sonate di viole. 
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. 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. 
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The work of George Frideric Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach and their contemporaries, including Domenico Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, Tomaso Albinoni, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Georg Philipp Telemann, and others advanced the Baroque era to its climax. 
Bach's elder sons and pupils:
A characteristic of the 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. While the pieces in a dance suite were inspired by actual dance music, dance suites were intended for listening, not for accompanying dancers. Composers used a variety of different movements in their dance suites. A dance suite commonly has these movements:
The 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:
There are many other dance forms as well as other pieces that could be included in a suite, such as Polonaise, Loure, Scherzo, Air, etc.
The Classical period was an era of classical music between roughly 1750 and 1820.
Johann Pachelbel was a German composer, organist, and teacher who brought the south German organ schools to their peak. He composed a large body of sacred and secular music, and his contributions to the development of the chorale prelude and fugue have earned him a place among the most important composers of the middle Baroque era.
A chaconne is a type of musical composition often used as a vehicle for variation on a repeated short harmonic progression, often involving a fairly short repetitive bass-line which offers a compositional outline for variation, decoration, figuration and melodic invention. In this it closely resembles the passacaglia. It originates and was particularly popular in the Baroque era; a large number of Chaconnes exist from the 17th- and 18th- centuries.
The passacaglia is a musical form that originated in early seventeenth-century Spain and is still used today by composers. It is usually of a serious character and is often based on a bass-ostinato and written in triple metre.
A suite, in Western classical music and jazz, is an ordered set of instrumental or orchestral/concert band pieces. It originated in the late 14th century as a pairing of dance tunes and grew in scope to comprise up to five dances, sometimes with a prelude, by the early 17th century. The separate movements were often thematically and tonally linked. The term can also be used to refer to similar forms in other musical traditions, such as the Turkish fasıl and the Arab nuubaat.
An allemande is a Renaissance and Baroque dance, and one of the most common instrumental dance styles in Baroque music, with examples by Couperin, Purcell, Bach and Handel. It is often the first movement of a Baroque suite of dances, paired with a subsequent courante, though it is sometimes preceded by an introduction or prelude.
The rondo is a musical form that contains a principal theme which alternates with one or more contrasting themes, generally called "episodes", but also occasionally referred to as "digressions" or "couplets". Some possible patterns include: ABACA, ABACAB, ABACBA, or ABACABA.
Pachelbel's Canon is an accompanied canon by the German Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel. The canon was originally scored for three violins and basso continuo and paired with a gigue, known as Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and basso continuo. Both movements are in the key of D major. Although a true canon at the unison in three parts, it also has elements of a chaconne. Neither the date nor the circumstances of its composition are known, and the oldest surviving manuscript copy of the piece dates from 1838 to 1842.
The sarabande is a dance in triple metre, or the music written for such a dance.
Hans Leo Hassler was a German composer and organist of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, elder brother of less known composer Jakob Hassler. He was born in Nürnberg and died in Frankfurt am Main.
Chorale settings refer to a wide variety of musical compositions, almost entirely of Protestant origin, which use a chorale as their basis. A chorale is a simple melody, often based on Gregorian chant, written for congregations to sing hymns. Chorale settings can be vocal, instrumental, or both.
A chorale cantata is a church cantata based on a chorale—in this context a Lutheran chorale. It is principally from the German Baroque era. The organizing principle is the words and music of a Lutheran hymn. Usually a chorale cantata includes multiple movements or parts. Most chorale cantatas were written between approximately 1650 and 1750. By far the most famous are by Johann Sebastian Bach, especially the cantatas composed in his second annual cycle of cantatas, started in Leipzig in 1724.
In music, a chorale concerto is a short sacred composition for one or more voices and instruments, principally from the very early German Baroque era. Most examples of the genre were composed between 1600 and 1650.
French classical music began with the sacred music of the Roman Catholic Church, with written records predating the reign of Charlemagne. It includes all of the major genres of sacred and secular, instrumental and vocal music. French classical styles often have an identifiably national character, ranging from the clarity and precision of the music of the late Renaissance music to the sensitive and emotional Impressionistic styles of the early 20th century. Important French composers include Pérotin, Machaut, Du Fay, Ockeghem, Josquin, Lully, Charpentier, Couperin, Rameau, Leclair, Grétry, Méhul, Auber, Berlioz, Alkan, Gounod, Offenbach, Franck, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Delibes, Bizet, Chabrier, Massenet, Widor, Fauré, d'Indy, Chausson, Debussy, Dukas, Vierne, Duruflé, Satie, Roussel, Hahn, Ravel, Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc, Auric, Messiaen, Françaix, Dupré, Dutilleux, Xenakis, Boulez, Guillou, Grisey, and Murail.
Andreas Hammerschmidt, the "Orpheus of Zittau," was a German Bohemian composer and organist of the early to middle Baroque era. He was one of the most significant and popular composers of sacred music in Germany in the middle 17th century.
Musical improvisation is the creative activity of immediate musical composition, which combines performance with communication of emotions and instrumental technique as well as spontaneous response to other musicians. Sometimes musical ideas in improvisation are spontaneous, but may be based on chord changes in classical music and many other kinds of music. One definition is a "performance given extempore without planning or preparation". Another definition is to "play or sing (music) extemporaneously, by inventing variations on a melody or creating new melodies, rhythms and harmonies". Encyclopædia Britannica defines it as "the extemporaneous composition or free performance of a musical passage, usually in a manner conforming to certain stylistic norms but unfettered by the prescriptive features of a specific musical text." Improvisation is often done within a pre-existing harmonic framework or chord progression. Improvisation is a major part of some types of 20th-century music, such as blues, rock music, jazz, and jazz fusion, in which instrumental performers improvise solos, melody lines and accompaniment parts.
Classical music generally refers to the art music of the Western world, considered to be distinct from Western folk music or popular music traditions. It is sometimes distinguished as Western classical music, as the term "classical music" also applies to non-Western art music. Classical music is often characterized by formality and complexity in its musical form and harmonic organization, particularly with the use of polyphony. Since at least the ninth century it has been primarily a written tradition, spawning a sophisticated notational system, as well as accompanying literature in analytical, critical, historiographical, musicological and philosophical practices. A foundational component of Western Culture, classical music is frequently seen from the perspective of individual or groups of composers, whose compositions, personalities and beliefs have fundamentally shaped its history.
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque period. He is known for his orchestral music such as the Brandenburg Concertos; instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites; keyboard works such as the Goldberg Variations and The Well-Tempered Clavier; organ works such as the Schubler Chorales and the Toccata and Fugue in D minor; and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music.
The term galanteries is sometimes used for movements in the Baroque dance suite whose inclusion is variable, unlike the fixed core of allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue. These pieces usually follow the sarabande.
Charles Dieupart was a French harpsichordist, violinist, and composer. Although he was known as Charles to his contemporaries according to some biographers, his real name was actually François. He was most probably born in Paris, but spent much of his life in London, where he settled sometime after 1702/1703. A prominent member of the Drury Lane musical establishment, Dieupart was active both as composer and performer and actively participated in the musical life of the city. However, after about 1712 he earned his income mostly by teaching, and in his later years lived in poverty. He is best remembered today for a collection of six harpsichord suites which influenced Johann Sebastian Bach's English Suites.