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The Baroque Period

The Baroque period lasted for 150 years from 1600-1750. Below is an analysis of the composers and the key features of the baroque period. Feel free to skip to the parts most relevant to you.

The Composers

J.S. Bach (1685-1750) was a serious composer who wrote for the Church and had 20 children. Geroge Frederic Handel (1685-1759) created light hearted music and used the harpsichord alot such as in ‘And the Glory of the Lord‘. Monteverdi (1567-1643) invented the opera and composed the first opera called Orfeo.  Scarlatti (1685-1757) was mainly a harpsichord composer who wrote 555 Sonata keyboard pieces. Vivaldi (1678-1841) was nicknamed ‘the red priest’ and wrote over 500 concertos.

Features of Baroque Music

  • Use of the harpsichord and the basso continuo.
  • The bass part was usually a Cello or Bassoon
  • The bass part uses a figured bass.
  • There were decoration and ornamentation such as trills and mordants.
  • Establishes the major/minor key system.
  • Uses simple diatonic chords.
  • Chords used were I, IV V (major) and ii and vi (minor).
  • Textures were mostly polyphonic, homophonic and monophonic.
  • There was often only one mood throughout the piece.
  • Terraced dynamics were used where the dynamics were only either loud or soft.
  • There was no Clarinet as it had not been invented. 
In a baroque orchestra, there are about 20 string players. Woodwind were not standard and varied from piece to piece. Trumpets, French Horns and Timpani drums were only used for special occasions and at point in the pieces with strong cadences.

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