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The Music of the Baroque Era

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Essay title: The Music of the Baroque Era

The Music of the Baroque Era

The style of polyphonic music containing elaborate ornamentation and contrasting elements, that is how Baroque music is defined. The Baroque era was a kind of transitional era in art and music. The Renaissance means rebirth and is typically regarded as such. The Baroque era in music is not a set style in music but many diverse styles which may be broken down into at least three distinct periods. A renewed interest in art and music was experienced throughout the Renaissance which then led to the Baroque era which was more of a transitional stage leading up to the maturity of classical music in the Classical era which began as Baroque ended. (Howard n. pag.)

The origins of the word Baroque itself is as obscure as the melodies contained in its music. Many people believe that the word baroque came from two different places. Some believe that it came from the word barocco, which is Italian and means bizarre or strange. Others believe that it is Portuguese and it came from the word barroco meaning distorted or irregularly shaped pearl. The barroco was considered more beautiful because of its uniqueness. Either way the name stuck.

The era began in 1600 and ended with Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685-1750) death in 1750. Bach is likely the best known and most widely appreciated composer of the era, although Antonio Vivaldi and George Fridiric Handel were certainly very important composers of the time as well. The music of the Baroque itself is very colorful and dramatic. The word-painting of Bach’s cantatas can involve torturous melodic lines and extraordinary harmonies that are trademarks of the age (Arnold 174).

The Baroque style music was voices only. It was sung in a cappella, a choral style music with only singing and no instruments. If instruments happened to be used, it only imitated the melody of the voices. It would not pick up its only melody or tune. The Baroque style music brought up more than just choir singing. It introduced soloists. When solo music was sung, this brought up the idea of thoroughbass. Which is a bass part was assigned to the singing (Arnold 174).

The term Baroque, no matter which definition you choose to accept, really does not fit the entire period to which the name is applied. It could certainly be applied to certain times during the period but not to the entire 150-year range that it has been described

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