Music is an ever changing phenomenon. Innovators constantly push the boundaries of the definition of music. New genres are built on the foundations of previous musical innovations and as composers and musicians create more and more new music, the whole universe of music becomes more diverse. The diversity of music results in certain genres becoming more popular than others. However, one genre of music, classical music, has remained relatively untouched by the ever changing musical preferences of society and has always had a rather dependable number of supporters. Classical music has been around for over four hundred years and yet it still holds an important place in our society. While other, much younger genres of music experience varying waves of popularity, classical music, as old as it is, still remains a part of our culture.
Classical music can be broken down into six distinct musical periods (there are a few periods that have been omitted in order to remain succinct): Medieval (500-1450 C.E.), Renaissance (1450-1600), Baroque (1600-1750, approx.), Classical (1750-1830), Romantic (1830-1910), and 20th Century, or Modern, (1900-2000). This essay will be discussing the Baroque period through the 20th Century period. Each of these different musical periods has its own distinctive style and sound that was shaped and influenced by the style of music that was popular during the period before. The most important factor that influenced how each period developed its characteristic, however, were certain composers who truly sculpted the style of each period through their works and innovations; individuals who defied convention and experimented with the pre-established harmonic structures of their predecessors.
The first important period in music history is the Baroque Period. However, in order to fully understand how Baroque style and Baroque music came to be, the Baroque period must be viewed in context with the other periods of music history.