What is a Concerto Grosso? Unveiling the Baroque Form

Explore the captivating world of the concerto grosso. Unleash your creative symphony today!

In the realm of classical music, the concerto grosso holds a special place. Originating in the Baroque era, it is a captivating musical composition that showcases the interplay between a small group of solo instruments and a larger accompanying orchestra. Through this unique combination, the concerto grosso creates a harmonious dialogue, offering a delightful exploration of musical contrasts and textures. Join us as we dive into the essence of this captivating musical form and uncover the magic behind the concerto grosso.

What is a concerto grosso? A concerto grosso is a form of baroque music where the musical material is passed between a small group of soloists (the concertino) and a full orchestra (the ripieno). It differs from a solo concerto, where a single solo instrument takes the spotlight accompanied by the orchestra.

What is the history of Concerto Grosso?

A concerto grosso (or concerti grossi, in the plural) was a popular type of orchestral music during the Baroque period (approximately 1600–1750). However, the style was resurrected by numerous composers afterward, most notably during the Neoclassical period.

Image of handel harpsichord.
Image of handel harpsichord.

During the late seventeenth century, a new musical form emerged, pushing the boundaries of composition and performance. Alessandro Stradella played a significant role in its development, crafting the first compositions that combined two distinct groups of different sizes in a unique manner. However, it wasn’t until Giovanni Lorenzo Gregori published a set of ten compositions in 1698 that the term “concerto grosso” was officially used.

During the late seventeenth century, a new musical form emerged, pushing the boundaries of composition and performance.

As the eighteenth century progressed, the concerto grosso form gradually gave way to the rise of the solo concerto and the sinfonia concertante. While the solo concerto placed emphasis on a single solo instrument accompanied by the orchestra, the sinfonia concertante featured multiple solo instruments. The concerto grosso experienced a decline in popularity, and new examples of this form were scarce for over a century.

Concerto Grosso in the Modern Era

Though the concerto grosso form waned in popularity after the eighteenth century, it experienced a renaissance in the twentieth century and beyond. Esteemed composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Philip Glass embraced and reimagined the concerto grosso concept in their own unique ways. Their innovative compositions breathed new life into this classical form, bridging the gap between tradition and contemporary expression.

In the twenty-first century, composers and musicians continue to find inspiration in the concerto grosso form. Its unique structure and interplay between soloists and the orchestra offer endless possibilities for artistic expression. If you’re a music producer or have a home recording studio, consider experimenting with the concerto grosso concept by incorporating solo instruments and ensemble sections in your compositions.

My favorite MIDI keyboard (at the moment):

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

What is a concerto grosso? Unveiling the baroque form | 717qmgla7zl. Ac sl1500 | audio apartment
My favorite MIDI keyboard (at the moment):

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

I’m loving the AKAI MPK Mini MK3 for its compact design and the range of controls. It’s one of my essential tools. The velocity-sensitive keys and MPC-style pads are great for making beats, while the thumbstick and knobs give me precise control.

What are the two distinct forms of Concerto Grosso?

Concerto Grosso has two distinct forms: the concerto da chiesa and the concerto da camera.

Concerto da chiesa

The concerto da chiesa, or church concert, had a unique structure that alternated between slow and fast movements. It was deeply rooted in sacred music and often conveyed a solemn and reverential atmosphere. This form embraced elements of religious ceremonies and evoked spiritual contemplation.

Concerto da camera

The concerto da camera, or chamber concert, took on a different character compared to its church counterpart. This form had the essence of a suite, typically beginning with a prelude and incorporating popular dance forms like the allemande, courante, sarabande, and gigue. The concerto da camera possessed a more secular and lighthearted nature, appealing to audiences seeking entertainment and enjoyment.

Over time, the distinctions between the concerto da chiesa and concerto da camera became less rigid. The evolving musical landscape allowed composers to experiment with elements from both forms, resulting in compositions that intertwined sacred and secular influences. The blending of these styles further expanded the creative possibilities within the concerto grosso genre.

The below table is a general overview of the characteristics associated with Concerto da Chiesa and Concerto da Camera.

CharacteristicConcerto da ChiesaConcerto da Camera
StructureAlternates between slow and fast movementsTypically consists of a series of dance-like movements
ContextRooted in sacred musicAssociated with secular chamber music performances
AtmosphereSolemn and reverentialLively and entertaining
EnsembleOften performed in a church settingSuitable for smaller chamber ensembles
EmphasisConveys spiritual contemplation and reverenceHighlights virtuosity and interplay between soloists and ripieno
MovementsUsually includes four movements: slow-fast-slow-fastComprised of various dance forms (e.g., allemande, sarabande)
InstrumentsCommonly features strings, organ, and occasionally windsWide range of instruments, including strings, winds, and harpsichord
Musical ExpressionFocuses on conveying religious emotions and introspectionEmphasizes musical dialogue and expressive interaction
Tempo and RhythmOften marked by a steady pulse and measured rhythmsCan exhibit varied tempos and lively rhythmic patterns
Melodic and TexturalMelodies tend to be lyrical and contemplative, with rich harmoniesVaried melodic and contrapuntal textures, with virtuosic passages
Historical SignificanceFlourished during the Baroque period, particularly in sacred musicPopular during the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods
The characteristics of Concerto da Chiesa and Concerto da Camera

Who is Arcangelo Corelli, and how did he influence Concerto Grosso?

Arcangelo Corelli is often hailed as the first major composer to utilize the term concerto grosso. His works showcased the true potential of this form and left an indelible mark on the music of his time. Following Corelli’s passing, a collection of twelve concerti grossi was published, solidifying his status as a pioneer in this genre.

Corelli’s influence resonated strongly with subsequent composers, such as Francesco Geminiani, Pietro Locatelli, Giovanni Benedetto Platti, and Giuseppe Torelli, who crafted concertos in the style pioneered by Corelli. Antonio Vivaldi was also significantly influenced by Corelli’s innovative approach to concerto composition.

Image of arcangelo corelli.
Image of arcangelo corelli.

Corelli’s most celebrated work, Opus 6, is a collection of twelve concerti grossi that showcases the brilliance of his compositional prowess. Let’s take a closer look at the contents of this remarkable opus:

  • Opus 6: 12 Concerti Grossi – Comprising of eight concerti da chiesa and four concerti da camera, this opus demonstrates the range and diversity of Corelli’s mastery.
  • Instrumentation – Corelli’s concertino group consisted of two violins and a cello, complemented by a string section forming the ripieno group. The ensemble was further supported by a basso continuo, which could include instruments like the harpsichord, organ, lute, or theorbo.

Corelli’s works had a profound impact on the development of concertos and instrumental music in general. Composers like George Frideric Handel were inspired by Corelli’s style and techniques. Handel’s collections of concerti grossi in Op. 3 and Op. 6 bear the imprint of Corelli’s influence.

Likewise, Johann Sebastian Bach incorporated elements of the concerto grosso form in several of his renowned Brandenburg Concertos, paying homage to Corelli’s enduring legacy.

What is the impact of Concerto Grosso on home recording studios and music production?

The richness and versatility of the concerto grosso form offer exciting possibilities for musicians and producers in home recording studios. By incorporating elements of the concerto grosso into your compositions, you can elevate your tracks to new heights.

Whether it’s creating layered arrangements with solo instruments and an ensemble-like sound or experimenting with the interplay between different musical sections, the concerto grosso provides a wealth of inspiration for music production.

In the realm of home recording studios and music production, the concerto grosso opens up a realm of possibilities for creativity and experimentation. Here’s how you can incorporate the essence of the concerto grosso into your own musical endeavors:

  • Layered Arrangements: Experiment with layering solo instruments and ensemble sections to create depth and richness in your compositions.
  • Dynamic Interplay: Explore the interplay between different musical sections, allowing them to interact and respond to one another, creating a dynamic musical conversation.
  • Modern Instrumentation: While the concerto grosso traditionally featured orchestral instruments, feel free to explore modern instrument choices and electronic elements to infuse a contemporary twist.
  • Combining Genres: Break the boundaries between classical and other genres by integrating elements of the concerto grosso into your compositions, creating unique and genre-bending musical experiences.
  • Production Techniques: Utilize modern production techniques such as effects, sampling, and digital manipulation to enhance the overall sound and atmosphere of your concerto grosso-inspired pieces.

Remember, the concerto grosso is not just a relic of the past—it’s a timeless source of inspiration that can transform your home recording studio into a hub of creativity and musical exploration. So, let the spirit of Corelli guide you as you embark on your own concerto grosso-inspired musical journey!

Advantages and disadvantages of incorporating Concerto Grosso in music production

The integration of concerto grosso elements in music production offers unique advantages and presents certain challenges. Let’s explore the pros and cons of incorporating this classical form into modern music creation.


  • Enhanced Depth and Texture: Layered arrangements and dynamic interplay between instruments create a rich and immersive sonic experience.
  • Artistic Expression: The concerto grosso provides a versatile framework for artists to explore creative ideas and blend various musical genres.
  • Structural Integrity: The form’s alternating solo and ensemble sections offer a cohesive and well-defined structure for compositions.
  • Historical Significance: Drawing inspiration from a centuries-old tradition can add depth and historical context to contemporary works.
  • Expanded Musical Horizons: Exploring the concerto grosso opens up new avenues for musical exploration and pushes creative boundaries.


  • Complex Arrangement: Incorporating multiple instruments and managing their interplay can be challenging, requiring careful orchestration and arrangement skills.
  • Balancing Act: Ensuring a harmonious balance between the solo and ensemble sections can be demanding, requiring a keen ear for mixing and production.
  • Genre Compatibility: While the concerto grosso form is adaptable, integrating it into certain modern genres may require careful consideration to maintain stylistic coherence.
  • Technical Demands: Utilizing production techniques and manipulating digital elements may require additional technical proficiency and software knowledge.
  • Modern Audience Reception: Some listeners may perceive the concerto grosso as a niche or classical-oriented form, potentially limiting its appeal to broader audiences.

Incorporating the concerto grosso into music production opens up a world of possibilities, but it also presents challenges that require careful consideration and expertise. By embracing its advantages and finding innovative ways to address its disadvantages, musicians, and producers can create captivating and unique musical experiences.

If you want even more great tips and information, check out the video.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

As we’ve explored the fascinating world of concerto grosso, you may have some lingering questions. Here are answers to three common inquiries:

Can I incorporate the concerto grosso form into modern electronic music genres?

Absolutely! The concerto grosso form is versatile and adaptable, allowing you to infuse its essence into various genres, including electronic music. Experiment with blending traditional orchestral instruments with electronic elements to create a unique fusion of styles.

Are there any specific production techniques I should consider when working with the concerto grosso?

While there are no hard and fast rules, consider utilizing production techniques such as panning, EQ, and reverb to create space and separation between the solo and ensemble sections. Additionally, experimenting with automation and modulation effects can add movement and dynamics to your concerto grosso-inspired compositions.

Can I perform a concerto grosso composition with virtual instruments and sample libraries?

Absolutely! With the advancements in virtual instruments and sample libraries, it is possible to perform a concerto grosso composition entirely within a digital environment. By carefully selecting high-quality sample libraries and utilizing expressive MIDI controllers, you can achieve convincing and expressive performances.


In this harmonious journey through the world of concerto grosso, we’ve explored the rich history, modern expressions, and its relevance to music production. Whether you’re an aspiring composer or a curious music enthusiast, the concerto grosso offers endless possibilities to infuse your own unique voice into your compositions. So, let your creativity soar, embrace the interplay of solo and ensemble sections, and create symphonies that resonate with the world.

Let me know your questions in the comment section below (I read and reply to all comments). Let’s continue this musical journey together, celebrating the beauty of concerto grosso and the boundless possibilities it holds.

Key Takeaways

This article covered the fascinating world of concerto grosso and its relevance to music production and home recording studios. Here are some key takeaways:

  • The concerto grosso is a baroque music form featuring interplay between soloists and an ensemble.
  • It has a rich history and was popularized by composers such as Corelli and Stradella.
  • The concerto grosso continues to inspire contemporary composers like Stravinsky and Glass.
  • In modern music production, the concerto grosso offers possibilities for layered arrangements and dynamic interplay.
  • Incorporating concerto grosso elements requires careful orchestration, mixing, and artistic decision-making.
  • Virtual instruments and sample libraries can be used to perform concerto grosso compositions.
  • Embracing the concerto grosso opens new avenues for creativity and genre fusion in music production.

Helpful Resources

Image Andrew Ash
Written by Andrew Ash, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I'm relatively new to music production, but I've been learning a ton, and documenting my journey along the way. That's why I started this blog. If you want to improve your home studio setup and learn more along with me, this is the place for you!

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