Solo instrumental music has evolved dramatically over the centuries. Solo instrumental repertoire consists of sonatas, concertos, etudes, preludes, ricercars, partitas and numerous other forms. The most comprehensive timeline of the history of solo instrumental music lies in the sonata and the concerto.
The word sonata developed from the meaning of simply ‘played’, while cantata meant ‘sung’. Sonatas went through massive change in the Baroque era, along with the concerto.
In the Baroque period the sonata was composed for a solo instrument accompanied by various other instruments. Scarlatti composed over 500 works for solo harpsichord. In the late Baroque period, sonatas became more defined as a work for solo instrument, or one main instrument accompanied by keyboard. The vast corpus of solo sonatas by Bach, for instance, are a great reminder of the virtuosity that Bach was capable of at the keyboard. He also composed solo sonata as partitas for violin and cello.