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Baroque Instrumental Music
1600-1750
Baroque is the name given to the European style of art, architecture and music from about 1600 to 1750.
The fashion was for ornamentation everywhere – even on buildings and especially in music.
Many new styles and forms were developed in the Baroque period.
Orchestral music
The size of a Baroque orchestra varied but was considerably smaller than in the present day. Violins
usually played the melody. A Bassoon, Cello or Double Bass played the bass line and a Lute, Harpsichord
or Organ played harmonies. There may also be Oboe, Recorder, Trumpet, Horn and Timpani.
Basso Continuo
This was the most Distinguishing feature of Baroque music. It would often play continuously throughout
music. It consisted of a Bass line played on Bassoon or Cello and a chord playing instrument such as Lute,
Harpsichord or Organ. The purpose was to fill out the harmonies.
Concerto Grosso
The Concerto Gross is a form of Baroque music in which the musical material is passed between; a small
group of soloists, Concertino, and full orchestra, Ripieno.
Ripieno
Concertino
Violin
Recorder
Oboe
Trumpet
Basso
Continuo
Strings
Ritornello Form
In Baroque music, ritornello was the word for a recurring passage for orchestra in the first or final
movement of a solo concerto or aria (also in works for chorus).
In ritornello form, the orchestra opens with a theme called the ritornello (refrain).
This theme, always played by the tutti, returns in different keys throughout the movement. However, it
usually returns in incomplete fragments.
Suite
A collection of dances.
The Suite in music is a collection of instrumental or orchestral pieces of music – just as a suite is also a
collection of furniture!
This idea stemmed from Renaissance composers who liked to link dances together, for example The Pavan
and Galliard. (Renaissance)
Baroque composers developed this idea further into a group of dances, the pieces are usually in the same
key.
Fugue
The Fugue is a piece with contrapuntal texture.
The piece is based on a main theme known as the
Subject. This subject is imitated throughout the piece by different voices.
The first section of a Fugue is known as the exposition which introduces the subject.
The Subject is first heard in the Tonic and then heard again in the Dominant. When the Subject is
played in the dominant it is now called the Answer.
The Episode plays between entries of the Subject.
Real Answer: If the intervals of the answer are exactly the same as the subject, the answer is said to be
real.
Tonal Answer: If the intervals of the answer are not exactly the same as the subject, the answer is said
to
be tonal.
Rapid entry of the subject is known as Stretto.
Passacaglia
This was originally a minor Spanish and later Italian dance in
3
4
time.
It is a musical work which is based upon variations over a Ground Bass .
Chaconne
Originally a major dance-song from Spain.
A Chaconne is a musical form whose primary formal feature involves variation on Short Chord
Progression.
Chorale Prelude
The Chorale prelude as the title suggests is based on a Chorale melody (a German Hymn). It is a musical
work written for the organ.
The composer may take this melody and write variations on it, use it in fugal style or weave one or two
melodic lines around it. Chorale Preludes are usually Homophonic in texture.
Overture
Signalled the opening of Opera and Oratorio.
A work for Orchestra.