The term “baroque” comes from the Portuguese, “barroco” which, when referring to a stone, means “of irregular shape”, or even “bizarre” and originally had pejorative overtones. It applies to a style in the history of all art forms including music and corresponds to a period situated between 1600 and 1750. This period coincides with a time of technical innovations including the creation of opera and ends with the period named classicism. To simplify matters, the musical evolution of the baroque era can be divided into three phases, sometimes called early baroque, middle baroque and late baroque, each of which lasted for around fifty years.
Musical baroque was born with monody accompanied by the invention of bass continuo, which opposed the stile modern to the stile antico of the Renaissance. Opera, oratorio and cantata emerged during this period; instrumental music developed, (the concerto, sonata and all the music for keyboard instruments, in particularly for the organ). These forms are separated into three groups each with a characteristic style: church, (chiesa), chamber (camera) and the theatre. It is also at this time that the sense of tonality and harmony was established.
Baroque music can be defined as a deformation of already existing techniques. Monteverdi and Vivaldi, Purcell, Handel and Bach, and Lully are baroque composers whose works are associated with the three different baroque periods, yet they nevertheless keep their “baroque” specificity, which corresponds to a baroque style particular to their country of origin.