Renaissance music

Renaissance music

Overview
Renaissance music is European music
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 written during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. Defining the beginning
Dates of classical music eras
Music historians divide the European classical music repertory into various eras based on what style was most popular as taste changed. These eras and styles include Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th century. Some of the terms, such as "Renaissance" and "Baroque",...

 of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.

Literally meaning ‘rebirth’, the Renaissance was a revival of the arts and high culture under the influence of classical
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 models, which began in Italy in the 14th century, and spread throughout Europe by the end of the 16th Century.
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Encyclopedia
Renaissance music is European music
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 written during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. Defining the beginning
Dates of classical music eras
Music historians divide the European classical music repertory into various eras based on what style was most popular as taste changed. These eras and styles include Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th century. Some of the terms, such as "Renaissance" and "Baroque",...

 of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.

Literally meaning ‘rebirth’, the Renaissance was a revival of the arts and high culture under the influence of classical
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 models, which began in Italy in the 14th century, and spread throughout Europe by the end of the 16th Century. Developments in music included an increased respect for the rhythm and the sense of the words in text-setting, as exemplified by the adoption of a new type of madrigal
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

 composition in the 1520’s and at the end of the 16th century, the invention of opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

.

Overview


One of the most pronounced features of early Renaissance European art music was the increasing reliance on the interval of the third
Third (music)
In music and music theory third may refer to:*major third*minor third*augmented third/perfect fourth*diminished third/major second*Third , chord member a third above the root*Mediant, third degree of the diatonic scale...

 (in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, thirds had been considered dissonances). Polyphony
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 became increasingly elaborate, throughout the 14th century, with highly independent voices: the beginning of the 15th century showed simplification, with the voices often striving for smoothness. This was possible because of a greatly increased vocal range in music – in the Middle Ages, the narrow range made necessary frequent crossing of parts, thus requiring a greater contrast between them.

The modal (as opposed to tonal
Tonality
Tonality is a system of music in which specific hierarchical pitch relationships are based on a key "center", or tonic. The term tonalité originated with Alexandre-Étienne Choron and was borrowed by François-Joseph Fétis in 1840...

) characteristics of Renaissance music began to break down towards the end of the period with the increased use of root motions of fifths. This later developed into one of the defining characteristics of tonality.

The main characteristics of Renaissance music are:
  • Music based on modes.
  • Richer texture in four or more parts.
  • Blending rather then contrasting strands in the musical texture.
  • Harmony with a greater concern with the flow and progression of chords.


Polyphony is one of the notable changes that mark the Renaissance from the Middle Ages musically. Its use encouraged the use of larger ensembles and demanded sets of instruments that would blend together across the whole vocal range.

Genres


Principal liturgical forms which endured throughout the entire Renaissance period were masses and motets, with some other developments towards the end, especially as composers of sacred music began to adopt secular forms (such as the madrigal
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

) for their own designs.

Common sacred genres were the mass
Mass (music)
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

, the motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

, the madrigale spirituale
Madrigale spirituale
A madrigale spirituale is a madrigal, or madrigal-like piece of music, with a sacred rather than a secular text...

, and the laude
Laude
The lauda or lauda spirituale was the most important form of vernacular sacred song in Italy in the late medieval era and Renaissance. Laude remained popular into the nineteenth century....

.

During the period, secular music had an increasing distribution, with a wide variety of forms, but one must be cautious about assuming an explosion in variety: since printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 made music more widely available, much more has survived from this era than from the preceding Medieval era, and probably a rich store of popular music of the late Middle Ages is irretrievably lost. Secular music included songs for one or many voices, forms such as the frottola
Frottola
The frottola was the predominant type of Italian popular, secular song of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. It was the most important and widespread predecessor to the madrigal...

, chanson
Chanson
A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

 and madrigal
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

.

Secular music was music that was independent of churches. The main type was the German lied, Italian frottola, the French chanson, the Italian madrigal, and the Spanish villancico . Secular vocal genres included the madrigal
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

, the frottola
Frottola
The frottola was the predominant type of Italian popular, secular song of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. It was the most important and widespread predecessor to the madrigal...

, the caccia, the chanson
Chanson
A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

 in several forms (rondeau
Rondeau (music)
The rondeau was a Medieval and early Renaissance musical form, based on the contemporary popular poetic rondeau form. It is distinct from the 18th century rondo, though the terms are likely related...

, virelai
Virelai
A virelai is a form of medieval French verse used often in poetry and music. It is one of the three formes fixes and was one of the most common verse forms set to music in Europe from the late thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries.A virelai is similar to a rondeau...

, bergerette
Bergerette
A bergerette, or shepherdess' air, is a form of early rustic French song.The bergerette, developed by Burgundian composers is a virelai with only is single stanza. It is one of the "fixed forms" of early French song and related to the rondeau. Examples include Josquin's Bergerette savoyene included...

, ballade
Ballade (musical form)
A ballade refers to a one-movement musical piece with lyrical and dramatic narrative qualities.- Medieval ballades :The term ballade was used to describe one type of musical setting of French poetry common in the 14th and 15th centuries...

, musique mesurée
Musique mesurée
Musique mesurée, or Musique mesurée à l'antique, was a style of vocal musical composition in France in the late 16th century. In musique mesurée, longer syllables in the French language were set to longer note values, and shorter syllables to shorter, in a homophonic texture but in a situation of...

), the canzonetta
Canzonetta
In music, a canzonetta was a popular Italian secular vocal composition which originated around 1560...

, the villancico
Villancico
The villancico was a common poetic and musical form of the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America popular from the late 15th to 18th centuries. With the decline in popularity of the villancicos in the 20th century, the term became reduced to mean merely "Christmas carol"...

, the villanella
Villanella
In music, a villanella is a form of light Italian secular vocal music which originated in Italy just before the middle of the 16th century...

, the villotta
Villotta
Villotta is a kind of popular song found mainly in northern Italy, especially near Venice. Often using folk music or folk songs in dialect, the structure of the modern villotta entails four hendecasyllabic lines of verse followed by a refrain...

, and the lute song
Lute song
The lute song was a generic form of music in the late Renaissance and very early Baroque eras, generally consisting of a singer accompanying himself on a lute, though lute songs may often have been performed by a singer and a separate lutenist...

. Mixed forms such as the motet-chanson
Motet-chanson
The motet-chanson was a specialized musical form of the Renaissance, developed in Milan during the 1470s and 1480s, which combined aspects of the contemporary motet and chanson....

 and the secular motet also appeared.

Purely instrumental music included consort
Consort of instruments
A consort of instruments was a phrase used in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to indicate an instrumental ensemble. These could be of the same or a variety of instruments. Consort music enjoyed considerable popularity at court and in households of the wealthy in the...

 music for recorder
Recorder
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

 or viol
Viol
The viol is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments developed in the mid-late 15th century and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Renaissance vihuela, a plucked instrument that preceded the...

 and other instruments, and dances for various ensembles.
Common genres were the toccata
Toccata
Toccata is a virtuoso piece of music typically for a keyboard or plucked string instrument featuring fast-moving, lightly fingered or otherwise virtuosic passages or sections, with or without imitative or fugal interludes, generally emphasizing the dexterity of the performer's fingers...

, the prelude
Prelude (music)
A prelude is a short piece of music, the form of which may vary from piece to piece. The prelude can be thought of as a preface. It may stand on its own or introduce another work...

, the ricercar
Ricercar
A ricercar is a type of late Renaissance and mostly early Baroque instrumental composition. The term means to search out, and many ricercars serve a preludial function to "search out" the key or mode of a following piece...

, the canzona
Canzona
In the 16th century an instrumental chanson; later, a piece for ensemble in several sections or tempos...

, and intabulation
Intabulation
Intabulation, from the Italian word intavolatura, refers to an arrangement of a vocal or ensemble piece for keyboard, lute, or other plucked string instrument, written in tablature. It was a common practice in 14th-16th century keyboard and lute music...

 (intavolatura, intabulierung). Instrumental ensembles for dances might play a basse danse
Basse danse
The basse danse, or "low dance", was the most popular court dance in the 15th and early 16th centuries, especially at the Burgundian court, often in a combination of 6/4 and 3/2 time allowing for use of hemiola...

 (or bassedanza), a pavane
Pavane
The pavane, pavan, paven, pavin, pavian, pavine, or pavyn is a slow processional dance common in Europe during the 16th century .A pavane is a slow piece of music which is danced to in pairs....

, a galliard
Galliard
The galliard was a form of Renaissance dance and music popular all over Europe in the 16th century. It is mentioned in dance manuals from England, France, Spain, Germany and Italy, among others....

, an allemande
Allemande
An allemande is one of the most popular instrumental dance forms in Baroque music, and a standard element of a suite...

, or a courante
Courante
The courante, corrente, coranto and corant are some of the names given to a family of triple metre dances from the late Renaissance and the Baroque era....

.

Towards the end of the period, the early dramatic precursors of opera such as monody, the madrigal comedy
Madrigal comedy
Madrigal comedy is a term for a kind of entertainment music of the late 16th century in Italy, in which groups of related, generally a cappella madrigals were sung consecutively, generally telling a story, and sometimes having a loose dramatic plot. It is an important element in the origins of opera...

, and the intermedio
Intermedio
The intermedio, or intermezzo, in the Italian Renaissance, was a theatrical performance or spectacle with music and often dance which was performed between the acts of a play to celebrate special occasions in Italian courts. It was one of the important predecessors to opera, and an influence on...

 are seen.

Theory and notation


According to Margaret Bent (1998), "Renaissance notation is under-prescriptive by our standards; when translated into modern form it acquires a prescriptive weight that overspecifies and distorts its original openness."

Renaissance compositions were notated only in individual parts; scores were extremely rare, and barlines
Bar (music)
In musical notation, a bar is a segment of time defined by a given number of beats of a given duration. Typically, a piece consists of several bars of the same length, and in modern musical notation the number of beats in each bar is specified at the beginning of the score by the top number of a...

 were not used. Note value
Note value
In music notation, a note value indicates the relative duration of a note, using the color or shape of the note head, the presence or absence of a stem, and the presence or absence of flags/beams/hooks/tails....

s were generally larger than are in use today; the primary unit of beat
Beat (music)
The beat is the basic unit of time in music, the pulse of the mensural level . In popular use, the beat can refer to a variety of related concepts including: tempo, meter, rhythm and groove...

 was the semibreve, or whole note
Whole note
thumb|right|250px|Figure 1. A whole note and a whole rest.In music, a whole note or semibreve is a note represented by a hollow oval note head, like a half note , and no note stem . Its length is equal to four beats in 4/4 time...

. As had been the case since the Ars Nova
Ars nova
Ars nova refers to a musical style which flourished in France and the Burgundian Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages: more particularly, in the period between the preparation of the Roman de Fauvel and the death of the composer Guillaume de Machaut in 1377...

 (see Medieval music
Medieval music
Medieval music is Western music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century...

), there could be either two or three of these for each breve
Double whole note
In music, a double whole note or breve is a note lasting twice as long as a whole note...

 (a double-whole note), which may be looked on as equivalent to the modern "measure," though it was itself a note value and a measure is not. The situation can be considered this way: it is the same as the rule by which in modern music a quarter-note may equal either two eighth-notes or three, which would be written as a "triplet." By the same reckoning, there could be two or three of the next smallest note, the "minim," (equivalent to the modern "half note") to each semibreve. These different permutations were called "perfect/imperfect tempus" at the level of the breve–semibreve relationship, "perfect/imperfect prolation" at the level of the semibreve–minim, and existed in all possible combinations with each other. Three-to-one was called "perfect," and two-to-one "imperfect." Rules existed also whereby single notes could be halved or doubled in value ("imperfected" or "altered," respectively) when preceded or followed by other certain notes. Notes with black noteheads (such as quarter note
Quarter note
A quarter note or crotchet is a note played for one quarter of the duration of a whole note . Often people will say that a crotchet is one beat, however, this is not always correct, as the beat is indicated by the time signature of the music; a quarter note may or may not be the beat...

s) occurred less often. This development of white mensural notation may be a result of the increased use of paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

 (rather than vellum
Vellum
Vellum is mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. It is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation, the quality of the skin and the type of animal used...

), as the weaker paper was less able to withstand the scratching required to fill in solid noteheads; notation of previous times, written on vellum, had been black. Other colors, and later, filled-in notes, were used routinely as well, mainly to enforce the aforementioned imperfections or alterations and to call for other temporary rhythmical changes.

Accidentals were not always specified, somewhat as in certain fingering notations (tablature
Tablature
Tablature is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches....

s) today. However, Renaissance musicians would have been highly trained in dyadic counterpoint and thus possessed this and other information necessary to read a score, "what modern notation requires [accidentals] would then have been perfectly apparent without notation to a singer versed in counterpoint." See musica ficta
Musica ficta
Musica ficta was a term used in European music theory from the late 12th century to about 1600 to describe any pitches, whether notated or to be added by performers in accordance with their training, that lie outside the system of musica recta or musica vera as defined by the hexachord system of...

. A singer would interpret his or her part by figuring cadential formulas with other parts in mind, and when singing together musicians would avoid parallel octaves and fifths or alter their cadential parts in light of decisions by other musicians (Bent, 1998).

It is through contemporary tablatures for various plucked instruments that we have gained much information about what accidentals were performed by the original practitioners.

For information on specific theorists, see Johannes Tinctoris
Johannes Tinctoris
Johannes Tinctoris was a Flemish composer and music theorist of the Renaissance. He is known to have studied in Orléans, and to have been master of the choir there; he also may have been director of choirboys at Chartres...

, Franchinus Gaffurius
Franchinus Gaffurius
Franchinus Gaffurius was an Italian music theorist and composer of the Renaissance. He was an almost exact contemporary of Josquin des Prez and Leonardo da Vinci, both of whom were his personal friends...

, Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean was a Swiss music theorist, poet and humanist. He was born in Mollis and died in Freiburg....

, Pietro Aron
Pietro Aron
Pietro Aron, also known as Pietro Aaron , was an Italian music theorist and composer. He was born in Florence and probably died in Bergamo .-Biography:...

, Nicola Vicentino
Nicola Vicentino
Nicola Vicentino was an Italian music theorist and composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the most visionary musicians of the age, inventing, among other things, a microtonal keyboard, and devising a practical system of chromatic writing two hundred years before the rise of equal...

, Tomás de Santa María
Tomás de Santa María
Fr. Tomás de Santa María O.P. was a Spanish music theorist, organist and composer of the Renaissance. He was born in Madrid but the date is highly uncertain; he died in Ribadavia...

, Gioseffo Zarlino
Gioseffo Zarlino
Gioseffo Zarlino was an Italian music theorist and composer of the Renaissance. He was possibly the most famous music theorist between Aristoxenus and Rameau, and made a large contribution to the theory of counterpoint as well as to musical tuning.-Life:Zarlino was born in Chioggia, near Venice...

, Vicente Lusitano
Vicente Lusitano
Vicente Lusitano was a Portuguese music composer and theorist of the late Renaissance.He was born in Olivença, but little else is known for certain of his life, including the dates of his birth and death...

, Vincenzo Galilei
Vincenzo Galilei
Vincenzo Galilei was an Italian lutenist, composer, and music theorist, and the father of the famous astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei and of the lute virtuoso and composer Michelagnolo Galilei...

, Giovanni Artusi
Giovanni Artusi
Giovanni Maria Artusi was an Italian theorist, composer, and writer.Artusi was one of the most famous reactionaries in musical history, fiercely condemning the new style developing around 1600, the innovations of which defined the early Baroque era...

, Johannes Nucius
Johannes Nucius
Johannes Nucius was a German composer and music theorist of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras...

, and Pietro Cerone
Pietro Cerone
Pietro Cerone was an Italian music theorist, singer and priest of the late Renaissance. He is most famous for an enormous music treatise he wrote in 1613, which is useful in the studying compositional practices of the 16th century.-Life:...

.

Early Renaissance music (1400–1467)


This group gradually dropped the late Medieval period's complex devices of isorhythm
Isorhythm
Isorhythm is a musical technique that arranges a fixed pattern of pitches with a repeating rhythmic pattern.-Detail:...

 and extreme syncopation
Syncopation
In music, syncopation includes a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected in that they deviate from the strict succession of regularly spaced strong and weak but also powerful beats in a meter . These include a stress on a normally unstressed beat or a rest where one would normally be...

, resulting in a more limpid and flowing style. What their music "lost" in rhythmic complexity, however, it gained in rhythmic vitality, as a "drive to the cadence" became a prominent feature around mid-century.

Middle Renaissance music (1467–1534)


In the early 1470s, music started to be printed using a printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

. Music printing had a major effect on how music spread for not only did a printed piece of music reach a larger audience than any manuscript ever could, it did it far cheaper as well. Also during this century, a tradition of famous makers began for many instruments. These makers were masters of their craft. An example is Neuschel for his trumpets.

Towards the end of the 15th century, polyphonic sacred music (as exemplified in the masses of Johannes Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem was the most famous composer of the Franco-Flemish School in the last half of the 15th century, and is often considered the most...

 and Jacob Obrecht
Jacob Obrecht
Jacob Obrecht was a Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was the most famous composer of masses in Europe in the late 15th century, being eclipsed by only Josquin des Prez after his death.-Life:...

) had once again become more complex, in a manner that can perhaps be seen as correlating to the stunning detail in the painting at the time. Ockeghem, particularly, was fond of canon
Canon (music)
In music, a canon is a contrapuntal composition that employs a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration . The initial melody is called the leader , while the imitative melody, which is played in a different voice, is called the follower...

, both contrapuntal and mensural
Prolation canon
In music, a prolation canon or mensuration canon is a type of canon, a musical composition wherein the main melody is accompanied by one or more imitations of that melody in other voices. Not only do the voices sing or play the same melody, they do so at different speeds...

. He composed a mass in which all the parts are derived canonically from one musical line.

It was in the opening decades of the next century that music felt in a tactus (think of the modern time signature) of two semibreves-to-a-breve began to be as common as that with three semibreves-to-a-breve, as had prevailed prior to that time.

In the early 16th century, there is another trend towards simplification, as can be seen to some degree in the work of Josquin des Prez
Josquin Des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

 and his contemporaries in the Franco-Flemish School
Franco-Flemish School
In music, the Franco-Flemish School or more precisely the Netherlandish School refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic vocal music composition in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and to the composers who wrote it...

, then later in that of G. P. Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

, who was partially reacting to the strictures of the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

, which discouraged excessively complex polyphony as inhibiting understanding the text. Early 16th-century Franco-Flemings moved away from the complex systems of canonic and other mensural play of Ockeghem's generation, tending toward points of imitation and duet or trio sections within an overall texture that grew to five and six voices. They also began, even before the Tridentine reforms, to insert ever-lengthening passages of homophony
Homophony
In music, homophony is a texture in which two or more parts move together in harmony, the relationship between them creating chords. This is distinct from polyphony, in which parts move with rhythmic independence, and monophony, in which all parts move in parallel rhythm and pitch. A homophonic...

, to underline important text or points of articulation. Palestrina, on the other hand, came to cultivate a freely flowing style of counterpoint in a thick, rich texture within which consonance followed dissonance on a nearly beat-by-beat basis, and suspensions ruled the day (see counterpoint
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

). By now, tactus was generally two semibreves per breve with three per breve used for special effects and climactic sections; this was a nearly exact reversal of the prevailing technique a century before.

Late Renaissance music (1534–1600)


In Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, from about 1534 until around 1600, an impressive polychoral style developed, which gave Europe some of the grandest, most sonorous music composed up until that time, with multiple choirs of singers, brass and strings in different spatial locations in the Basilica San Marco di Venezia (see Venetian School). These multiple revolutions spread over Europe in the next several decades, beginning in Germany and then moving to Spain, France and England somewhat later, demarcating the beginning of what we now know as the Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 musical era.

The Roman School
Roman School
In music history, the Roman School was a group of composers of predominantly church music, in Rome, during the 16th and 17th centuries, therefore spanning the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. The term also refers to the music they produced...

 was a group of composers of predominantly church music in Rome, spanning the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Many of the composers had a direct connection to the Vatican and the papal chapel, though they worked at several churches; stylistically they are often contrasted with the Venetian School of composers, a concurrent movement which was much more progressive. By far the most famous composer of the Roman School is Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, whose name has been associated for four hundred years with smooth, clear, polyphonic perfection.

He was an Italian composer and was one of the towering figures in the music of the late 16th century. He was primarily a prolific composer of masses and motets but was also an important madrigalist.

His success in reconciling the functional and aesthetic aims of Catholic church musician the post – Trid entire period earned him an enduring reputation as the ideal Catholic composer, as well as giving his style an iconic stature as a model of perfect achievement.
The brief but intense flowering of the musical madrigal in England, mostly from 1588 to 1627, along with the composers who produced them, is known as the English Madrigal School
English Madrigal School
The English Madrigal School was the brief but intense flowering of the musical madrigal in England, mostly from 1588 to 1627, along with the composers who produced them. The English madrigals were a cappella, predominantly light in style, and generally began as either copies or direct translations...

. The English madrigals were a cappella, predominantly light in style, and generally began as either copies or direct translations of Italian models. Most were for three to six voices.

Musica reservata
Musica reservata
In music history, musica reservata is either a style or a performance practice in a cappella vocal music of the latter half of the 16th century, mainly in Italy and southern Germany, involving refinement, exclusivity, and intense emotional expression of sung text.The exact meaning, which appears...

is either a style or a performance practice in a cappella vocal music of the latter, mainly in Italy and southern Germany, involving refinement, exclusivity, and intense emotional expression of sung text.

The cultivation of European music in the Americas began in the 16th century soon after the arrival of the Spanish, and the conquest of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. Although fashioned in European style, uniquely Mexican hybrid works based on native Mexican language and European musical practice, appeared very early. Musical practices in New Spain continually coincided with European tendencies throughout the subsequent Baroque and Classical music periods. Among these New World composers were Hernando Franco
Hernando Franco
Hernando Franco was a Spanish composer of the Renaissance, who was mainly active in Guatemala and Mexico.- Life :Franco was born in Galizuela in Extremadura, a source region for many people who came to the New World in the 16th century...

, Antonio de Salazar
Antonio de Salazar (composer)
Antonio de Salazar was a Mexican composer.Salazar arrived in New Spain in 1688 as chapel master of Puebla Cathedral, then later held his final position later at Mexico City Cathedral...

, and Manuel de Zumaya
Manuel de Zumaya
Manuel de Zumaya or Manuel de Sumaya was perhaps the most famous Mexican composer of the colonial period of New Spain. His music was the culmination of the Baroque style in the New World; of Spanish, French, Dutch, British, and Portuguese colonial composers, none stand out as much as Zumaya did...

.

In addition, many composers observed a division in their own works between a prima pratica
Prima pratica
Prima pratica refers to early Baroque music which looks more to the style of Palestrina, or the style codified by Gioseffo Zarlino, than to more "modern" styles. It is contrasted with seconda pratica music...

(music in the Renaissance polyphonic style) and a seconda pratica (music in the new style) during the first part of the 17th century.

Masses


The 15th and 16th century masses had two kinds of sources that were used, monophonic and polyphonic, with two main forms of elaboration, based on cantus firmus practice or, beginning some time around 1500, the new style of pervasive imitation.
Four types of masses resulted:
  • Cantus firmus mass (tenor mass)
  • The cantus firmus/imitation mass
  • The paraphrase mass
  • The imitation mass (parody mass)


Masses were normally titled by the source from which they borrowed. Cantus firmus mass uses the same monophonic melody, usually drawn from chant and usually in the tenor and most often in longer note values then the other voices.

Mannerism


In the late 16th century, as the Renaissance era closed, an extremely manneristic style developed. In secular music, especially in the madrigal, there was a trend towards complexity and even extreme chromaticism (as exemplified in madrigal
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

s of Luzzaschi
Luzzasco Luzzaschi
Luzzasco Luzzaschi was an Italian composer, organist, and teacher of the late Renaissance. He was born and died in Ferrara, and despite evidence of travels to Rome it is assumed that Luzzaschi spent the majority of his life in his native city.As a pupil of Cipriano de Rore, Luzzaschi developed...

, Marenzio
Luca Marenzio
Luca Marenzio was an Italian composer and singer of the late Renaissance. He was one of the most renowned composers of madrigals, and wrote some of the most famous examples of the form in its late stage of development, prior to its early Baroque transformation by Monteverdi...

, and Gesualdo
Carlo Gesualdo
Carlo Gesualdo, known as Gesualdo di Venosa or Gesualdo da Venosa , Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, was an Italian nobleman, lutenist, composer, and murderer....

). The term "mannerism" derives from art history.

Transition to the Baroque


Beginning in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, there was an attempt to revive the dramatic and musical forms of Ancient Greece, through the means of monody
Monody
In poetry, the term monody has become specialized to refer to a poem in which one person laments another's death....

, a form of declaimed music over a simple accompaniment; a more extreme contrast with the preceding polyphonic style would be hard to find; this was also, at least at the outset, a secular trend. These musicians were known as the Florentine Camerata
Florentine Camerata
The Florentine Camerata was a group of humanists, musicians, poets and intellectuals in late Renaissance Florence who gathered under the patronage of Count Giovanni de' Bardi to discuss and guide trends in the arts, especially music and drama...

.

We have already noted some of the musical developments that helped to usher in the Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

, but for further explanation of this transition, see antiphon
Antiphon
An antiphon in Christian music and ritual, is a "responsory" by a choir or congregation, usually in Gregorian chant, to a psalm or other text in a religious service or musical work....

, concertato
Concertato
Concertato is a term in early Baroque music referring to either a genre or a style of music in which groups of instruments or voices share a melody, usually in alternation, and almost always over a basso continuo...

, monody
Monody
In poetry, the term monody has become specialized to refer to a poem in which one person laments another's death....

, madrigal
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

, and opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

, as well as the works given under "Sources and further reading."

For a more thorough discussion of the transition to the Baroque specifically pertaining to instrument music, see Transition from Renaissance to Baroque in instrumental music
Transition from Renaissance to Baroque in instrumental music
In the years centering around 1600 in Europe, several distinct shifts emerged in ways of thinking about the purposes, writing and performance of music...

.

Instruments of the Renaissance


Many instruments originated during the Renaissance; others were variations of, or improvements upon, instruments that had existed previously. Some have survived to the present day; others have disappeared, only to be recreated in order to perform music of the period on authentic instruments. As in the modern day, instruments may be classified as brass, strings, percussion, and woodwind.

Medieval instruments in Europe had most commonly been used singly, often self accompanied with a drone, or occasionally in parts. During the 15th century there was a division of instruments into Haut (loud, outdoor instruments) and Bas (quieter, more intimate instruments) Only two groups of instruments could play freely in both types of ensembles: the Cornett and sackbut and the Tabor and tambourine.

Beginning of the 16th century, instruments were considered to be less important then voices. They were used for dances and to accompany vocal music.
Instrumental music remained subordinated to vocal music, and much of its repertory was in varying ways derived from or dependent on, vocal models.

Brass


Brass instruments in the Renaissance were traditionally played by professionals. Some of the more common brass instruments that were played:
  • Slide trumpet
    Slide trumpet
    The slide trumpet is a type of trumpet that is fitted with a slide much like a trombone.The slide trumpet grew out of the war trumpet as used and developed in Western and Central Europe: Don Smithers in The Music and History of the Baroque Trumpet before 1721, argues that the slide grew out of the...

    : Similar to the trombone of today except that instead of a section of the body sliding, only a small part of the body near the mouthpiece and the mouthpiece itself is stationary. Also the body was an S-shape so it was rather unwieldy, but was suitable for the slow dance music which it was most commonly used for.

  • Cornett
    Cornett
    The cornett, cornetto or zink is an early wind instrument, dating from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. It was used in what are now called alta capellas or wind ensembles. It is not to be confused with the trumpet-like instrument cornet.-Construction:There are three basic types of...

    : Made of wood and was played like the recorder (will be mentioned at greater length later on) but blown like a trumpet. It was commonly made in several sizes, the largest was called the serpent. The serpent became practically the only cornetto used by the early 17th century while other ranges were replaced by the violin. It was said to be the closest instrument to the human voice with the ability to use dynamics and expression.

  • Trumpet
    Trumpet
    The trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...

    : Early trumpets had no valves, and were limited to the tones present in the overtone series. They were also made in different sizes. Although commonly depicted being used by angels, their use in churches was limited, a prominent exception being the music of the Venetian School. They were most commonly used in the military and for the announcement of royalty. Period trumpets were found to have two rings soldered to them, one near the mouthpiece and another near the bell.

  • Sackbut
    Sackbut
    The sackbut is a trombone from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, i.e., a musical instrument in the brass family similar to the trumpet except characterised by a telescopic slide with which the player varies the length of the tube to change pitches, thus allowing them to obtain chromaticism, as...

     (sometimes sackbutt or sagbutt): A different name for the trombone, which replaced the slide trumpet by the end of the 15th century. Sackbuts were used almost exclusively in church music and faced behind the player.

Strings



As a family strings were used in many circumstances, both sacred and secular. A few members of this family include:
  • Viol
    Viol
    The viol is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments developed in the mid-late 15th century and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Renaissance vihuela, a plucked instrument that preceded the...

    : This instrument, developed in the 15th century, commonly has six strings. It was usually played with a bow. It has structural qualities similar to the Spanish vihuela
    Vihuela
    Vihuela is a name given to two different guitar-like string instruments: one from 15th and 16th century Spain, usually with 12 paired strings, and the other, the Mexican vihuela, from 19th century Mexico with five strings and typically played in Mariachi bands.-History:The vihuela, as it was known...

    ; its main separating trait is its larger size. This changed the posture of the musician in order to rest it against the floor or between the legs in a manner similar to the cello. Its similarities to the vihuela were sharp waist-cuts, similar frets, a flat back, thin ribs, and identical tuning. This is the predecessor of the modern-day violin, viola, and violoncello (cello).

  • Lyre
    Lyre
    The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

    : Its construction is similar to a small harp, although instead of being plucked, it is strummed with a plectrum. Its strings varied in quantity from four, seven, and ten, depending on the era. It was played with the right hand, while the left hand silenced the notes that were not desired. Newer lyres were modified to be played with a bow.

  • Irish Harp: Also called the Clàrsach in Scottish Gaelic, or the Cláirseach in Irish, during the Middle Ages it was the most popular instrument of Ireland and Scotland. Due to its significance on Irish history it is seen even on the Guinness
    Guinness
    Guinness is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James's Gate, Dublin. Guinness is directly descended from the porter style that originated in London in the early 18th century and is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost...

     label, and is Ireland's national symbol even to this day. To be played it is usually plucked. Its size can vary greatly from a harp that can be played in one's lap to a full-size harp that is placed on the floor

  • Hurdy gurdy
    Hurdy gurdy
    The hurdy gurdy or hurdy-gurdy is a stringed musical instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to a violin...

    : (Also known as the wheel fiddle), in which the strings are sounded by a wheel which the strings pass over. Its functionality can be compared to that of a mechanical violin, in that its bow (wheel) is turned by a crank. Its distinctive sound is mainly because of its "drone strings" which provide a constant pitch similar in their sound to that of bagpipes.

  • See main article: Cittern
    Cittern
    The cittern or cither is a stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance. Modern scholars debate its exact history, but it is generally accepted that it is descended from the Medieval Citole, or Cytole. It looks much like the modern-day flat-back mandolin and the modern Irish bouzouki and cittern...

    .

  • See main article: Lute
    Lute
    Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

    .

  • See main article: Harpsichord
    Harpsichord
    A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

    .

  • See main article: Virginal.

Percussion


Some Renaissance percussion instruments include the triangle, the Jew's harp, the tambourine, the bells, the rumble-pot, and various kinds of drums.
  • Tambourine
    Tambourine
    The tambourine or marine is a musical instrument of the percussion family consisting of a frame, often of wood or plastic, with pairs of small metal jingles, called "zils". Classically the term tambourine denotes an instrument with a drumhead, though some variants may not have a head at all....

    : In the early ages the tambourine was originally a frame drum without the jingles attached to the side. This instrument soon evolved and took on the name of the timbrel during the medieval crusades, at which time it acquired the jingles. The tambourine was often found with a single skin, as it made it easy for a dancer to play. The skin that surrounds the frame is called the vellum, and produces the beat by striking the surface with the knuckles, fingertips, or hand. It could also be played by shaking the instrument, allowing the tambourine's jingles to "clank" and "jingle".

  • Jew's harp
    Jew's harp
    The Jew's harp, jaw harp, mouth harp, Ozark harp, trump or juice harp, is thought to be one of the oldest musical instruments in the world; a musician apparently playing it can be seen in a Chinese drawing from the 4th century BC...

    : An instrument often known for its historical purpose for men "serenading" their sweethearts, It even went to the extent of being repeatedly banned for its "endangerment on female virtue", it is also believed that it was banned because of its construction of silver, and due to the great demand on silver in the 19th Century Austria this was another reason for its outlawing. A steel instrument that produces sound using shapes of the mouth and attempting to pronounce different vowels with ones mouth. The loop at the bent end of the tongue of the instrument is plucked in different scales of vibration creating different tones.

Woodwinds (aerophones)


The woodwind instruments (aerophones) use a column of air vibrating within a pipe that has little holes along it to generate vibration with the airflow through the pipe and control the length of the sound waves produced by the vibrating air. A player could create this air column by using a few different methods. The first is blowing across a mouth hole (as would be done with flutes). The second is blowing into a mouthpiece with a single reed (as would be found with the clarinet or saxophone) or a double reed (which is used with oboes and bassoons).

The woodwind instruments of the Middle Ages are not the same as modern day woodwinds. They were more eccentric and exotic. For example, you would find that modern woodwinds fit the natural position of the hand. Woodwinds in the Renaissance used simple holes drilled in the instrument.
  • Shawm
    Shawm
    The shawm was a medieval and Renaissance musical instrument of the woodwind family made in Europe from the 12th century until the 17th century. It was developed from the oriental zurna and is the predecessor of the modern oboe. The body of the shawm was usually turned from a single piece of wood,...

    : A typical oriental shawm is keyless and is about a foot long with seven finger holes and a thumb hole. The pipes were also most commonly made of wood and many of them had carvings and decorations on them. It was the most popular double reed instrument of the renaissance period; it was commonly used in the streets with drums and trumpets because of its brilliant, piercing, and often deafening sound. To play the shawm a person puts the entire reed in their mouth, puffs out their cheeks, and blows into the pipe whilst breathing through their nose.

  • Reed pipe
    Reed pipe
    A reed pipe is an organ pipe that is sounded by a vibrating brass strip known as a reed. Air under pressure is directed towards the reed, which vibrates at a specific pitch. This is in contrast to flue pipes, which contain no moving parts and produce sound solely through the vibration of air...

    : Made from a single short length of cane with a mouthpiece, four or five finger holes, and reed fashioned from it. The reed is made by cutting out a small tongue, but leaving the base attached. It is the predecessor of the saxophone and the clarinet.

  • Hornpipe
    Hornpipe (musical instrument)
    The hornpipe can refer to a specific instrument or a class of woodwind instruments consisting of a single reed, a small diameter melody pipe with finger holes and a bell traditionally made from animal horn...

    : Same as reed pipe but with a bell at the end.

  • Bagpipe/Bladderpipe: Believe to have been invented by herdsmen who thought to use a bag made out of sheep or goat skin and would provide air pressure so that when its player takes a breath, the player only needs to squeeze the bag tucked underneath their arm to continue the tone. The mouth pipe has a simple round piece of leather hinged on to the bag end of the pipe and acts like a non-return valve.


As an aside, the reed is located inside the long metal mouthpiece, known as a bocal.
  • Panpipe: Designed to have sixteen wooden tubes with a stopper at one end and open on the other. Each tube is a different size (thereby producing a different tone), giving it a range of an octave and a half. The player can then place their lips against the desired tube and blow across it.

  • Transverse flute
    Transverse flute
    A transverse flute or side-blown flute is a flute which is held horizontally when played. The player blows "across" the embouchure hole, in a direction perpendicular to the flute's body length....

    : The Transverse flute is similar to the modern flute with a mouth hole near the stoppered end and finger holes along the body. The player blows in the side and holds the flute to the right side.

  • Recorder: The recorder is a common instrument still used today, often taught to children in elementary schools. Rather than a reed it uses a whistler mouth piece, which is a beak shaped mouth piece, as its main source of sound production. It is usually made with seven finger holes and a thumb hole.

Conclusion


The 16th century and early 17th century saw the continual improvement of many types of instruments. Woodwind instrument bores were redesigned to extend their range and improve their tone quality. Viols and violins were provided with sound posts to enhance their sound. The compass of keyboard instruments was widened and new tuning systems were developed.

The Renaissance was, as its name implies, a period of renewal, invention, and rejuvenation of both music and instruments.

See also


External links


Modern performance