About the Baroque era in general
Compared with the restrained and balanced style of the Renaissance era, the Baroque era indulged in exaggeration and opulence. The Catholic Church and rich European courts fostered art forms whose brilliance and richness celebrated their wealthy patrons. Playing instruments and dancing were part of the general education of the upper classes. However, in stark contrast to the lavish life of the courts, Europe was ravaged by many wars, and there was widespread poverty. The gulf between the rich and the poor grew. Science and the arts, raised to a new excellence in the Renaissance era, made more people aware of the wide world and what was in it. Secular authorities began to patronise and commission artists alongside religious authorities.
Have you ever marvelled at the fact that the music held in the highest regard by Western civilisation, the music written by Bach, is called Baroque? (from the Italian barocco, meaning a misshapen pearl or a strange idea) –Pierre Schaeffer
Music in the Baroque era
The Baroque era brought great changes to music. Polyphony was joined by a simple melody-and-accompaniment structure, homophony. Opera and concert music as we know it today were born during the Baroque era, as opposed to music serving a specific occasion such as a church service. The violin became an important instrument, which was significant for the future development of the orchestra.
Rhythm in the Baroque era
Music was divided into bars.
Melody in the Baroque era
Melody and accompaniment emerge.
Harmony in the Baroque era
Major and minor become established.
Form in the Baroque era
Opera, ballet and other works on a grand scale.
Tonal colour in the Baroque era
Instruments become equal with human voices.
Dynamics in the Baroque era
Soft and loud.
Instruments of the Baroque era
Most of the classical instruments that we know today existed in the Baroque era, though in some cases in a less developed form. Such instruments or copies of them are used for performances of Baroque music today and are known as ‘period instruments’.