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Music conventionally described as Baroque encompasses a wide range of styles from a wide geographic region, mostly in Europe, composed during a period of approximately 150 years (1600-1750).
Baroque music often strives for a greater level of emotional intensity than Renaissance music, and a Baroque piece often uniformly depicts a single particular emotion (exultation, grief, piety, and so forth). Baroque music was more often written for virtuoso singers and instrumentalists and is characteristically harder to perform than Renaissance music, although idiomatic instrumental writing was one of the most important innovations of the period. Baroque music employs a great deal of ornamentation, which was often improvised by the performer. Expressive performance methods such as notes inégales were common and were expected to be applied by performers, often with considerable latitude. Instruments came to play a greater part in Baroque music, and a cappella vocal music receded in importance.
The middle Baroque is separated from the early Baroque by the coming of systematic thinking to the new style and a gradual institutionalization of the forms and norms, particularly in opera. As with literature, the printing press and trade created an expanded international audience for works and greater cross-pollenation between national centers of musical activity.
The middle Baroque, in music theory, is identified by the increasingly harmonic focus of musical practice and the creation of formal systems of teaching. Music was an art, and it came to be seen as one that should be taught in an orderly manner.
Music as a skill
Originally this was a single skill, but it is now diversified into