Back at the time when people started talking about it, baroque probably seemed like a big mess of eccentric ornaments, drama, disruption of the classical order, and a generally bizarre and unconventional taste that not everyone could appreciate. ‘Barroco’ meant ‘imperfect pearl’ in portoguese, and it’s pretty easy to get why it came to signify what it does today: not everyone appreciated this bizarre mess of decorations (both in art and in music) but for those who did, it was groundbreaking and amazing. And it clearly brought beauty to the world. We might be a little biased, but look at Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette! It’s perfection.
And it’s no coincidence that the baroque aesthetic mixes so well with the punk attitude and the indie-rock / new wave tunes of the movie. Baroque music mainly consisted in strong contrasts between loud and soft, different instruments, and different timbres, but still with a beautiful harmony uniting the whole, and a philosophy that was mainly “arousing powerful emotions into the listener”. And it was during the baroque period that public performances, real concerts that even commoners could attend, became popular.
"The first attempt was low: a project of old [John] Banister, who was a good violin, and a theatrical composer. He opened an obscure room in a public house in White friars; filled it with tables and seats, and made a side box with curtains for the music. Sometimes consort, sometimes solos, of the violin, flageolet, bass viol, lute and song all’Italiana, and such varieties diverted the company, who paid at coming in. One shilling a piece, call for what you please, pay the reckoning, and Welcome gentlemen."
There were probably very few things cooler than being a player of violin or trumpet in this era. And if we compare it to the first appearances of The Beatles and their naïf pop songs in Liverpool, the first gigs of Sex Pistols in dirty underground London clubs, or to the indie-rock scene of New York in the early 00s (hail to The Strokes), isn’t it the same atmosphere? Baroque’s philosophy is the same as many experimental and avant-garde musical movements, and that’s why it made sense for Sofia Coppola to set the story of Marie Antoinette to a backdrop of new-wave and indie-rock songs, with occasionals interludes of Vivaldi and Domenico Scarlatti. And they fit amazingly. Many contemporary artists choose a “baroque” way of composing, and mix melodies of pop and rock music with unconventional and experimental elements, a theatrical performance, unusual song structures, or electronic additions.
That’s why we believe it’s simply perfect to dance to punk, indie-rock, new-wave, art-rock, and other groundbreaking musical genres in extravagant rococo outfits. Vivienne Westwood told us so. As well as Coppola’s Marie Antoinette having the time of her life dancing to punk tunes in a baroque wig.
Here is a little playlist for you, full of wilderness, joie de vivre, champagne and macarons.
What Ever Happened? - The Strokes
15 Step - Radiohead
Friday I’m in Love - The Cure
She’s a Rejector - Of Montreal
It All Feels Right - Washed Out
The KKK Took My Baby Away - Ramones
Hole - Celebrity Skin
The Magic Position - Patrick Wolf
Genesis - Grimes
Concerto in G - Vivaldi
Hong Kong Garden - Siouxsie and the Banshees
Rococo - Arcade Fire
D.A.N.C.E. - Justice
Polish Girl - Neon Indian
Party Talk - Craft Spells
Shake it Out - Florence + The Machine
I Want Candy - Bow Wow Wow (Kevin Shields remix)