Style developed in Europe, England, and Latin America during the 17th and 18th cent. Its essential characteristic is an emphasis on unity, a balance among diverse parts. Architecture took on the plastic aspects of sculpture and, along with sculpture, was enhanced by the chiaroscuro (high-contrast) effects of painting. Works in all media were produced on a grand scale. Illusionism increased an unequaled sense of drama, energy, and mobility of form.
Period and style of composition and performance prevailing from the last decades of the 16th cent. to the beginning of the 18th cent. The 16th-cent. revolt against the Polyphony of the Renaissance gave rise to an emphasis on the character of individual voices and instruments and also on the use of harmony in composition. Use of the older church modes was replaced by major and minor tonality as the basis of composition. Principal forms of vocal writing of the period included the opera, oratorio, and cantata; instrumental writing included the sonata, concerto, and overture. Later baroque forms were the fugue, choral prelude, and the toccata, a free form for keyboard instruments.