Musical trends of the 17th Century marked the emergence of elements that remain today. Music for concert and the stage, in what was to be known as the "Early Baroque" period, greatly influenced sacred music.
"Affections," a general system of expressing feelings, actions, or emotional states in music, were organized into a rudimentary vocabulary of musical devices. For example, motion by a succession of intervals suggested "walking." Descending slurred notes indicated "sorrow." Regular bar-lines were introduced to frame the modern metrical style of composition. Many composers adopted the concerted style of writing. This technique used the basso continuo to help define vertical music structures which, in turn, eventually led to the development of modern tonal harmony.
Claudio Monteverdi, the developer of the first true opera in 1607, was a giant among composers of the 17th Century. He identified old polyphonic style music as the "first practice." In it, music dominated the text. In the "second practice," the text dominated and found specific expression in the music.
Monteverdiís progressive techniques helped create a form copied throughout Europe. Composers began to specify certain instruments in their scores to feature their sounds rather than leaving the choice of instruments up to the performers.
Alessandro Scarlatti further developed the form created by Monteverdi. He defined the secular Italian cantata with his 600 works in a form that usually contained a full da capo aria, as well as a recitative monody with continuo. Marc-Antoine Charpentier of France also wrote important secular cantatas.
Many German and French composers wrote collections of dances for instrumental ensembles and for keyboard. These often were arranged in "suite" form. The various dances were designed to be played in prescribed order for concert performance.
Jean-Baptiste Lully, who created the famous "French Overture," developed a style of opera in France that featured ballet and serious drama. Toward the end of the century, Englandís Henry Purcell wrote "Dido and Aeneas," an opera unequaled in its capacity to bring the English language to the musical stage.
The newly developed violin became a favorite solo instrument for the sonata, especially in Italy, where violin making was raised to a high art.
Johann Froberger of Vienna also was significant because he wrote a number of important sectioned keyboard canzonas that included imitative polyphony. Girolamo Frescobaldi wrote important secular organ music.