A concerto (pronounced: con-chair'-toe) is a medium-to-long piece of music that focuses on a solo instrument with a group of instruments playing in the background. Concertos began and became popular in the Baroque (pronounced: buh-roak') Period of Classical Music.
The Baroque period lasted from 1600 to 1750 AD. The art, architecture, and music was complicated and full of fancy details and exaggeration. During this time, music was written for (and heard) only by royalty and the Church - few "common people" ever got to hear this music during that time. Even though the music and art of this time was known for being overly fancy and complicated, "Baroque" actually comes from the Italian word "barocco" which means bizarre.
Below is an example of Baroque art and architecture. Pay attention to all of the fancy and frilly details.
Let's listen to the Allegro from Antonio Vivaldi's "Concerto in C Major for Sopranino Recorder and Strings".
Source: Voices of Music
While you listen to the music, watch how quickly the man playing the Soprano Recorder moves his fingers. That is a common occurrence in Baroque music. It is often some of the most difficult music to master. The keyboard instrument you see and hear is a harpsichord (pronounced: harp'-suh-cord). The harpsichord was popular before the piano was invented.
The main differences between the harpsichord and the piano are:
- The harpsichord plucks the strings and the piano has "hammers" that strike the strings.
- You cannot play different dynamics (loud or soft) on the harpsichord.
- You cannot hold a note out (for a longer time) on a harpsichord like you can on a piano.
If you are new to the Music Adventures Lessons, please click on the graphic below for an introduction and more information.