What Is Baroque?
Classical music is a term which, typically, refers to the formalized, standard musical form of the Western hemisphere, thought to be distinctly different from other forms of popular music or folk music traditions. In a broader sense, the word can also apply to music demonstrating similar formal qualities in non-western cultures. The music has its roots in the Greek, Roman, and Italian classical music, and the Romanticist and Expressionist movements in the later half of the twentieth century.
For a very long time after its arrival in the western world, classical music was relegated to the elite class. Because it was perceived as highly formal and highly disciplined, the composers and performers of classical music had to struggle for years to receive even the lowest commissions for their works. Even today, in spite of its reputation as a highly refined form, classical music is extremely popular with the younger generation who prefer to listen to more “organic” and less formal music. Popular music styles, such as rap and hip-hop, have influenced young people’s tastes in classical music, but these types of music rarely incorporate the complex vocal harmonies that classical composers were writing before they were popularized. A notable exception is the work of the late John Cage, who was almost totally unknown outside the United States before his conception and throughout his life began to receive commissions from both Broadway and Hollywood.
In recent years, contemporary classical composers have begun to incorporate certain aspects of the baroque period into their compositions. These influences often occur through the use of modern instruments, such as keyboards, guitar, and drums, and the composers’ appreciation of how the baroque style changes depending upon the key of the music. Some examples of modern usage include the use of several musical instruments and harmonies within a composition, and the sometimes direct use of electronic effects to augment or contrast with the acoustic quality of a composition. However, contemporary classical compositions have little influence from the baroque style, as most classical composers regard it as over-burdening and bloated. Baroque music became increasingly important to the growing popularity of European classical music during the Romantic Period in the nineteenth century.