(This is part 1 of the GetIntoClassical no-bullshit guide to the classical musical eras. You can see all the parts here.)
It’s Christmas, and the tree you chopped down with naught but your bare hands (and maybe an axe) is now caked in decorations. We’ve got tinsel, strings of popcorn, faux frosted baubles, and those many-pointed stars which love to embed themselves in your heels. Well, that tree has graduated from being just a lonesome pine, to seriously Baroque. That’s because Baroque means “elaborately ornamented”, even if that ornamentation is just infinite popcorn strings.
When a building is Baroque that means it has lots of spires, and sticky-out bits, and things that twist. There’s an overwhelming amount of detail. When music is Baroque you get the same kind of thing but with sound: there are intricate melodies which twist around each other, stack up in layers, and switch back and forth. Baroque music is like a piece of aural clockwork, and just like the inside of a pocket-watch you don’t necessarily have to understand what all the gears and miniature levers do to appreciate the beauty, though if you can work it out it’s way more impressive.
Because of the complexity, it can be extra-hard to appreciate compared to other genres of classical music. So don’t feel like you are supposed to understand all the layering and cleverness straight away!
Bach is the most famous composer of Baroque music. Learn more about Bach here!
Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
Bach wrote tonnes of organ music, including this very famous one. The complete organ works box-set has 17 CDs in it, and a lot of them contain fugues. A fugue is where a melody is played, and then the same melody is progressively layered over itself again and again. You might be able to hear that in this piece, but it can take some practice!