Many people, including Tunde Folawiyo enjoy listening to classical music, and are familiar with the work of composers such as Vivaldi, Handel and Bach, all of whom created music during the Baroque period. This era of musical history began in the early 1600s, and ended during the mid-18th century. Known for its use of basso continuo, as well as intricate tonal counterpoint, Baroque music was considerably more advanced than its predecessor, Renaissance music.
Whilst today, Baroque is one of the most celebrated eras of classical music, this was not always the case. At the time, composers were considered to be inferior to artists, and their music was looked upon as a craft; wealthy Europeans enjoyed listening to compositions, but did not generally view them as works of art. Because of this, Baroque music was rarely created ‘for the sake of it’, and was instead composed for specific events. Moreover, music scores – even those created by the likes of Purcell and Rameau – were treated as casually as a newspaper, often being discarded after they had been performed a handful of times.
It was during this period of time that theme and variations began to take on a more structured form, and the beginnings of the sonata emerged. In addition to this, composers started to use major and minor key tonalities to help them to control chromaticism and dissonance.
The orchestra and the opera were both invented by Baroque composers. The latter came about due to the Italians’ desire to reclaim the dramas of Ancient Greece; as music played such an important role in their lives, it seemed only natural to combine the two. Orfeo, by Claudio Monteverdi, was the first opera to achieve recognition in the Baroque era.
The name ‘Baroque’ originates from ‘barroco’ a Portuguese word which can be roughly translated as ‘distorted pearl’; it refers to the highly complex and ornate style which was so popular during this era. Whilst its title may have had negative connotations at the time, Baroque is now many people’s favourite style of music.
Although a more elaborate playing style was certainly favoured throughout the Baroque period, the composers’ sheet music rarely, if ever included direction regarding dynamics, ornamentation or articulation, as they wanted to allow each orchestra to interpret the piece in their own way. This is one of the many reasons why Baroque has remained unwaveringly popular with music fans such as Tunde Folawiyo; it offers classical musicians the freedom to express themselves through their performance of the pieces.