Baroque Music History
The Baroque Ethos
Guided by the church, music reminds listeners of the consequences of their actions on Earth. Music begins to describe two different eternities through the separation of Major and minor chords. Major becomes symbolic of heaven, while minor symbolizes the darkness of eternal damnation in hell. Most notably, the music of J.S. Bach, a devout Lutheran, clearly reinforces this language of tonality using the Major/minor system.
The baroque musician seeks to become a mesmerizing, unique, or brilliant artist in performance or composition. Virtuoso performers and composers pushed instruments to new performance levels. Exciting concerts were praised by audiences. Rhythm and motion become more pronounced than during the Renaissance.
Art mirrors reality and defines space. Musicians create and perform expansive musical structures that rival cathedrals in architecture. Illusions of distance are created by sudden changes in dynamics and density of sound. Soft quiet melodies are followed by loud polyphony in many parts.
Inspired by mathematics, calculus, and proof of gravity, composers applied scientific thinking to music composition principles. Themes and motifs develop through repetition parallel to the scientific method of limiting variables to discover new truths.
Orchestras, the concerto, fugue, passion, and oratorio were invented. The renaissance opera was refined into a clear genre.
Philosopher Rene Descartes defined the world of human behavior into six passions of love, hate, desire, wonder, joy, and sadness. All complex emotions were considered a combination of these primary six.