Late Baroque Music Part 1

Figured Bass Inversions 1Image via Wikipedia(Text in Large print for classroom projection)

Classroom Text: Roger Kamien, Music: An Appreciation

Late Baroque Period

  • Rhythm repeated throughout
  • Polyphonic
  • Use of Harpsichord and the organ primarily
  • Works do not oscillate between happy and sad. Not much emotion is conveyed.
  • Opening melody often repeated with variation in different voices
  • Terraced Dynamics (piano to forte, vice versa, not gradual)
  • Correlation between music and text


The Late Baroque Period (at around 1620) saw the use of chords and harmony using the major and minor scales. This included the use of the figured bass (or basso continuo). Essentially a composer would write a bass part and other instruments would play notes that complimented the chord progression. Numbers like I, IV, or V were used to denote the chords.

The concept of the basso continuo actually is comparable to a lead sheet used by a band today. Chords are listed on top. The bass played creates a bass line based on the chords and the rest of the ensemble plays notes that work in with the chord structure.
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