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What is Baroque Music?

You listen to the works of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi and really enjoy it; you call yourself a classical music enthusiast. You even go so far as to say Baroque is your favorite period of classical music. But, do you know everything about Baroque? This fascinating period of music has decades of history, culture, and political climate intertwined with its melodies. Here at Miami Bach Music, we’re big baroque fans. Here are some facts about this period of music that even surprised us!

  1. “Baroque” comes from the Portuguese term for oddly shaped pearl, “barroco”. This is likely because at the time, it wasn’t appreciated as the great music period it is today. It’s expressionism of reality and human emotions was more than the social climate at the time wanted to hear.
  2. Historically, the most infamous and talented baroque musicians came from Italy and Germany. Although there are many other popular musicians from all over Europe.
  3. It was built on the Greek philosophy that music is not just for enjoyment but used as a tool for communication. Therefore, it was seen as very emotional and expressive music; prior to the baroque era, music was only meant to be technically impressive and pleasant to hear. It was not meant to be personal.
  4. Although we would pay lots of money to see Bach perform if he were alive today, during the baroque period most musicians didn’t make a lot of money off their art. There were no concerts and admission tickets like there are today. Most musicians performed at church or for very wealthy church attendees.
  5. If a musician was on a school or church’s payroll, they had to perform what the boss wanted them to. The true baroque style of music was created off the clock when musicians could pour their soul into the music.
  6. The harpsichord was the primary string instrument, as well as the viola and violin.
  7. In string instrument sections, bow vibrato was much preferred over finger vibrato
  8. Opera music was born out of the baroque era and the first opera house opened in 1637 in Venice, Italy. This was a revolutionary type of music in which singers could emote exactly what the song was trying to communicate to the listener.
  9. Over the course of the baroque period, public performances slowly grew in popularity. But never as popular as they are today. Slowly, more and more people would gather to watch a performance, and eventually pay the musician to perform in their home or another venue.
  10. Baroque ended over 250 years ago, but today’s musicians still use the genres it created, like anoratorio, concerto, and opera.

Fascinating, isn’t it? This beautiful period of music started from the poorest of the poor performing in churches to becoming performers for crowded theatres and packed auditoriums with high ticket prices. There are always new things to learn about music, and new ways to feel about your favorite pieces.

About Kristen Rogers

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