The Baroque era extended from late Renaissance and early Classical periods between 1600 and 1750. The origin of the term "baroque" comes from Portuguese and refers to an "irregular shaped pearl." The era of Baroque music was an age of brilliant progress of knowledge. It was also known for the age of the scientific discoveries of Galileo and Newton, and advances in math of Descartes, Newton, and Leibnitz. Baroque time period included production of some of the greatest music of all time.
There was three periods in Baroque music. In early Baroque style two ideas prevailed; one is the opposition to counterpoint and the most violent interpretation of the words, realized in the emotional recitative in free rhythm.
The harmony was experimental and pre-tonal. Vocal music was in the leading position. In the formation of the Baroque style Italy represented only one limit, which influenced primarily in the development of vocal monody. The other pole was England, which influenced the development of abstract instrumental style that spread all over the Europe. The middle Baroque period brought all the bel-canto style in the cantata and opera, and with it the distinction between aria and recitative. Musical forms began to grow and contrapuntal quality was reinstituted.
Chord progression was governed by an undeveloped tonality along with modes that were reduced to major and minor. The last period, which is the late Baroque style, is different by a fully established tonality that helped to regulate chord progressions, dissonance treatment, and the formal structure. The contrapuntal technique culminated in the full combination of tonal harmony. Also the concerto style appeared with emphasis on mechanical rhythm. Vocal music was now dominated by instrumental music.
However, the modern revival of Baroque music is limited almost exclusively to works in late Baroque period. The idea of dualism is probably what best sums up the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque music (Bekker, Jr 45). There were great contrasts when old ideas coexisted with new. Dualism played a crucial role in the development of Baroque music, which was built on the Renaissance model of counterpoint, and also the rise of instrumental forms. The Baroque era was thought as a musician's era.
The important principal during this period of time was the message the music itself could express. Musical notation as in forte, adagio, allegro, was introduced to indicate emotions and tempo. Music has always provided emotional enrichment to the expressive powers of verse. The emotions had an objective nature, which was at risk to rational description, especially in the language of music. Baroque composers used different musical descriptions of a particular emotion as building blocks of a certain piece. The musicians were not concerned with expressing their own feelings and emotions, instead they sought to describe with objectivity, feelings, and emotions that were distinct from what they actually felt.
The most universal stylistic elements of Baroque music are continuo and ornamentation. Both of these involved the difference between what the composer had written down and what the performer played. The continuo typically consisted of a harpsichord and a cello, which provided the harmonic and rhythmic foundation of Baroque collection. Ornamentation is the decoration of the musical line, with its trills, mordant and grace notes. Ornaments were rarely written out, and often were not even indicated, but were just left for a performer to decide. There were a lot of major composers of the Baroque era; some of them are George Frederic Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach, Henry Purcell, Antonio Vivaldi, Alessandro Marcello, Arcangello Corelli, and many more.
Usually the most famous composers which we associate Baroque music were Handel, Bach, and Vivaldi. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was one of the three of the greatest and most famous composers of the late Baroque period. He studied for priesthood and had lessons in music since early childhood. Then he started his career as a violin teacher and conductor of the Venetian orchestra, later he had established himself as a violinist of remarkable ability. For almost thirty years he was in-house composer of the girls conservatory. His concertos were written for string orchestra with contunio to which solo instruments or groups of instruments were added.
Another famous composer was Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). He was the son of musician and a member of a large musical family with a long tradition in music. He received lessons in music by his elder brother. Early in his life, he made a career as an organist. He was appointed as a court organist in Weimar. In the employment of a prince in Co then partial chamber music, he composed much of his suites, sonatas, and keyboard music.
Many of his major works were composed while serving as a teacher at a choir school in Leipzig. George Frederic Handel (1685-1759), the composer of the Music for the Royal Fireworks. He was permitted to study music through the intervention of the Duke of Saxe-Weussenfeld, he received organ lessons from early childhood. He studied law, which he combined with a position of organist. Later he worked as a musician, and played the second violin in the opera orchestra. Handel wrote his first Italian operas before he was twenty, and all together he composed forty operas, as well as numerous oratorios and instrumental pieces.
The heritage of Baroque music has been so amazing that it has been a challenge to later generations. The recognition of the greatness of Baroque music has developed slowly. It is significant that modern composers returns to formal and technical devices of the Baroque style and make them serve a new function in modern music.