In the worlds of art and architecture, Baroque
means flamboyant, colourful and elaborately decorated. The
picture at left is of the baroque Versailles palace, used by king Louis XIV of
France to listen to music by his baroque court composers.
This term is
also used to describe western European music written in the architectural "Baroque" period, roughly 1600-1750.
Music written in this period was flamboyant, colourful and elaborately
decorated when compared to earlier renaissance
and mediaeval styles.
In the early part of the baroque period, music started to become more
oriented to chords. Composers thought 'vertically', in addition to
'horizontally'. Previously, the chords formed almost accidentally as the result
of intertwining independent melodic lines. The chords were not usually written
out in full. Instead, the bass line was written out, and chord notation was
written below the staff. This was called basso continuo, or figured
bass. The bass line was often played on a cello,
and the chords on a harpsichord.
In the later part of the baroque period, composers resumed giving
great importance to the horizontal motion of intertwining melodies. This is
called counterpoint. Bach and Handel are the masters of counterpoint.
The two most famous composers of this period are Bach
and Handel, but the period also covers