Classical Music Concerto Through Time


1600 - 1750

Baroque comes from the Portuguese word for 'pearl' as the era was incredibly ornate.

Harpsichords were all the rage, similar to the piano, but producing more of a twangy, aggressive sound.

They used the continuo group/basso continuo to support the melody, consisting of a harpsichord and cello. Melodies were often also ornate, including 'fancy' elements such as

  1. Turn
  2. Trill
  3. Acciaccatura
  4. Mordent

They also used terraced dynamics, suddenly going from very loud (ff) to very quiet (pp). There was very little use of diminuendos and crescendos. Even phrasing was common, and key signatures were established (major and minor).

Homophonic: Parts moving together in largely the same or similar melody and rhythm
Polyphonic/Contrapuntal: Independent melodies which weave in and out of each other simultaneously

Famous Baroque composers include:

  1. J.S Bach
  2. Handel
  3. Purcell
  4. Vivaldi (Famous for the Four Seasons)
  5. Corelli


Which instruments are in the concertino section?


Which chordal instrument can you here?


Can you describe the melodic idea played by one of the recorders?

Descending sequence

What melodic device can you hear being used frequently in the violin melody?

A combination of both descending and ascending sequences

Which term most describes the patterns of the violins?




Concerto: A musical composition for a solo instrument or instruments accompanied by an orchestra
Tutti: When the orchestra plays in full after maybe a solo or group section
Concertino: Inbetween tutti sections where the soloist or soloists in a Baroque grosso orchestra play
Cadenza: Introduced in the classical era, it is a virtuosic solo section where a soloist would perform completely individually


The concerto in this period often had two soloists; the orchestra itself was relatively small with around three string players per section, one or two brass, the harpsichord and the timpani.

A specific type of concerto in the baroque era was the concerto grosso, not only containing one soloist, instead a leader from each of the strings (first violins, second violins, cellos). It did not last in the world of classical music.

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