What are the most prominent genres and compositional techniques of the Baroque era?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During periods of dramatic expression such as the Baroque era, the listener's attention is meant to focus upon the music as expression of the general states of the soul. With the powerful and contradictory currents of the Baroque period, the visual arts certainly fostered ornate splendor and complexity. Thus, composers sought a more expansive musical language in order to express a wide range of emotions. In this approach, they reached for new resources of harmony and dissonance, rhythm, and form. Choirs experimented with new ways to use voices and multiphonic sound.

Claudio Monteverdi introduced modern tonalities by mixing polyphony and harmony with a focus upon the solo voice and its supporting bass line. Instrumental music remained popular, and the harpsichord became essential. Dance music was popular for ballets and the popular social dancing. Improvisation was not unusual as it showed off a performer's virtuosity. Franz Liszt was such a virtuoso that some of his music could only be performed by him. Composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederic Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi are among this period's most popular.

Bach - A virtuoso on the harpsichord and piano, Bach wrote for almost all the popular forms. He composed over 300 cantatas and is known for         music that is artistic, highly technical, and of intellectual depth. He was skilled on the organ.

Handel - His most famous work is Messiah, and with it he created the musical oratorio, a musical narrative with a religious theme, as there are fifty movements with a three-act structure. He also created a technique known as text painting, in which a line of music imitates a written line. e.g. the Halleluja chorus in which the word repeatedly underscores the other vocals.

Vivaldi - He is credited with the ritornello, (a form that has a theme running through it). He is best known for his concertos for the violin, an instrument on which he was a virtuoso. He also wrote some opera.

user7272222 | Student

The most prominent genre in response to the Protestant Reformation are depictions of Christian scenes from the bible. Baroque was influenced by the light of god as the Renaissance was influenced by past creations from the Greek and Romans.

 Many Baroque Artist had been influenced by Caravaggio who had often used tenobrisim and a closed space with room in the front of the painting to bring the audience into the painting itself. There was a great mastery of perspective and to accompany the human figure they were usually placed on a diagonal axis.