In the worlds of art and architecture, Baroque means flamboyant, colourful and elaborately decorated. The picture at left is of the baroque Versailles palace, used by king Louis XIV of France to listen to music by his baroque court composers.
This term is also used to describe western European music written in the architectural "Baroque" period, roughly 1600-1750. Music written in this period was flamboyant, colourful and elaborately decorated when compared to earlier renaissance and mediaeval styles.
In the early part of the baroque period, music started to become more oriented to chords. Composers thought 'vertically', in addition to 'horizontally'. Previously, the chords formed almost accidentally as the result of intertwining independent melodic lines. The chords were not usually written out in full. Instead, the bass line was written out, and chord notation was written below the staff. This was called basso continuo, or figured bass. The bass line was often played on a cello, and the chords on a harpsichord.
In the later part of the baroque period, composers resumed giving great importance to the horizontal motion of intertwining melodies. This is called counterpoint. Bach and Handel are the masters of counterpoint.
The two most famous composers of this period are Bach and Handel, but the period also covers Purcell, Corelli, and Vivaldi amongst others.