How Heavy Metal is Based Off Baroque Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


How Heavy Metal is Based Off Baroque Music: A Comprehensive Guide – Discover how the two genres are similar and how metalheads can appreciate both.


It’s widely known that modern classical music has its origins in the Baroque period. What’s less well known is that some of the most popular music genres today, including heavy metal, are rooted in Baroque music as well. In this article, we’ll explore how heavy metal is based off Baroque music, and what makes these two genres similar.

Baroque music is characterized by its ornate melodies and countermelodies, complex harmonies, and wide range of dynamics. These elements are all present in heavy metal, albeit in a more distorted and exaggerated form. For example, Baroque music often features multiple instruments playing different melodic lines at the same time, which creates a density of sound that can be overwhelming to listeners. Heavy metal does the same thing, but with electric guitars instead of acoustic instruments.

Another similarity between Baroque music and heavy metal is their use of trills and vibrato. In Baroque music, trills were often used to add ornamentation to a melody. In heavy metal, vibrato is used to add expressiveness to guitar solos. Both trills and vibrato involve rapidly repeating a note or group of notes.

Finally, both Baroque music and heavy metal often make use of contrasting dynamics to create tension and release. In a typical Baroque piece, there would be periods of rest followed by sudden outbursts of sound. Heavy metal does the same thing by alternating between quiet verses and loud choruses. This ebb and flow of dynamics helps to build suspense and keep listeners engaged.

So there you have it: three ways in which heavy metal is based off Baroque music. Though they may seem like unlikely bedfellows at first glance, these two genres share a lot in common. So next time you’re headbanging to your favorite metal song, take a moment to appreciate the centuries-old roots that it’s built on!

What is Baroque Music?

Baroque music is a style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. The baroque period is characterized by ornate, dramatic music that was often used to tell stories or convey emotions. Many of the features of baroque music can be found in heavy metal, such as complex rhythms and extended melodies.

Characteristics of Baroque Music

Baroque music is a style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. This era followed the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era. Baroque music forms a major portion of the classical music canon, being widely studied, performed, and listened to. The Baroque period saw the creation of tonality. During the period, composers and performers used more elaborate musical ornamentation, made changes in musical notation, and developed new instrumental playing techniques. Baroque music expanded the size, range, and complexity of instrumental performance, and also established opera as a musical genre. Many musical terms and concepts from this era are still in use today.

The major time divisions of Western art music are:
-the Ancient music period,-the Medieval period,-the Renaissance,-the Baroque period,-the Classical period,-the Romantic period,-and the 20th-century Contemporary period.

Famous Baroque Composers

There are many famous composers from the Baroque period, which spanned from the early 1600s to the early 1700s. Baroque music is often characterized by its ornate, complex melodies and rhythms. Some of the most famous Baroque composers include Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi.

Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most well-known and revered composers in classical music. He was born in 1685 in Germany and is considered to be one of the greatest Western musicians of all time. Bach wrote hundreds of pieces of music, including hundreds of cantatas, motets, concertos, and solo works for keyboard and violin. He is perhaps best known for his Brandenburg Concertos and his Mass in B minor.

George Frideric Handel was a German-born composer who spent most of his career in England. He is best known for his operas, oratorios, and instrumental works. Some of his most famous compositions include the oratorios Messiah and Judas Maccabaeus, as well as the Water Music suites.

Antonio Vivaldi was an Italian composer who was born in Venice in 1678. He is best known for his violin concertos, which he composed for students at a girls’ orphanage in Venice where he served as maestro di violino (master of violin). Vivaldi also composed a large number of sacred vocal works, including several masses and over fifty motets.

How is Heavy Metal Based Off Baroque Music?

Baroque music was characterized by grandiose, dramatic, and dynamic musical features. This type of music was often used to convey emotional messages of triumph, love, and loss. Many of these same emotional messages are conveyed in heavy metal music. In this article, we will explore how heavy metal is based off Baroque music.

Rhythm and Meter

Rhythm and meter are perhaps the most obvious ways in which heavy metal is indebted to baroque music. The application of hemiola—alternating 3/4 and 6/8 time within a piece—is central to the sound of metal, as is the use of triple meter. Both of these time signatures were extremely common in baroque music, appearing in works by J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, and chopin, among others. Many of metal’s most iconic riffs make use of hemiola or triple meter, giving them a distinctly baroque flavor.

Melodic Structure

Most metal historians agree that early heavy metal originated in the late 1960s or early 1970s with bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Judas Priest. While these bands certainly laid the foundation for the genre, their sound was ultimately derivative of earlier rock and roll, blues and psychedelic bands. So what sets heavy metal apart from other genres?

One key element is its use of power chords – a type of chords commonly found in rock music. Power chords are created by playing a root note (the lowest note in the chord) with either the fifth or octave note above it. This creates a two-note interval known as a perfect fifth. For example, if you play a low E note on a guitar and then play the A note above it, you’re playing an E5 power chord.

Another defining characteristic of heavy metal is its use of distorted guitars. This began in the early 1970s with bands such as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix who used overdriven amplifiers to create a “fuzzy” or “dirty” sound. This distortion was later perfected by British guitarist Eddie Van Halen who popularized the “heavy metal umlaut” – a technique whereby one rapidly mutees two strings with the left hand while holding down a power chord with the right hand. This creates a distinctive “droning” sound that has come to be associated with heavy metal music.

Heavy metal also features prominently speeding up and slowing down of tempos, or what is known as “tempo changes.” These changes help to create a sense of tension and release – an important emotional component of heavy metal music. Another defining feature of heavy metal is its use of double bass drums – a drumming technique made popular by Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham in which both bass drums are played simultaneously with the pedal. This creates a pounding, driving beat that is perfect for headbanging!

So there you have it – some key elements that make up heavy metal music. While this genre has certainly evolved over the past few decades, these elements have remained constant, making heavy metal one of the most unique and easily recognizable genres of music out there today.

Harmony and Tonality

While contemporary classical music and early heavy metal both have roots in the Western tonal tradition, they diverge in how they treat harmony and tonality. Baroque music is heavily reliant on functional harmony, which creates a sense of movement and resolution within a piece. Classical tonality is based on the major-minor key system, in which a piece center around a tonic note (the “home” note) and resolves by returning to that note. Early heavy metal continued to use functional harmony, but with a greater reliance on minor keys and modal interchange (shifting from one mode to another within a piece), which gives the music a heavier, darker sound.


While symphonic and operatic music often steals the spotlight when it comes to public recognition of classical music, the Baroque period was equally rich in its own contributions to the Western musical tradition. One of the most important aspects of this era was the development and refinement of instrumental music. The invention of the concerto grosso form, in which a small group of instruments (the concertino) is accompanied by a larger group (the ripieno), established a new way of writing for orchestras that would have a lasting impact. This type of music often featured intense interplay between the soloists and the supporting ensemble, creating an exciting listening experience.

Instrumentation during the Baroque period was also notable for its use of newly developed or newly popularized instruments. The violin, for example, became increasingly prominent in ensembles and solo pieces during this time. The harpsichord also gained popularity as a solo instrument, thanks in part to its greater range and dynamic capabilities compared to its predecessors. Other instruments that became common during the Baroque era include the flute, oboe, bassoon, and trumpets.

The increased prominence of instrumental music during the Baroque period was due in part to changes in society and culture at the time. The rise of absolutism in many European countries led to an increase in patronage for music, as rulers sought to commission works that would reflect their power and prestige. At the same time, advances in instrument technology made it possible for composers to write more complex pieces that showed off the capabilities of these new instruments. all these factors combined to create a golden age for instrumental music that would lay the foundations for future genres such as classical and heavy metal.


In conclusion, heavy metal is based off of Baroque music. The two genres have many similarities, such as their use of electric guitars, Basso continuo, and their overall sound. However, there are also some key differences, such as the addition of vocals in heavy metal and the use of different instruments. Overall, the two genres are very similar, and it is easy to see how one influenced the other.

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