Introduction

Renaissance music is music composed in Europe during the Renaissance. Consensus among music historians–with noteworthy dissent–has to be to begin the era approximately 1400, v the end of the medieval era, and to near it around 1600, v the beginning of the baroque period, as such commencing the music Renaissance around a century after the beginning of the Renaissance as taken in other disciplines. As in the other arts, the music the the duration was considerably influenced through the developments which specify the early modern-day period: the climb of humanity thought; the recovery of the literary and artistic legacy of old Greece and also Rome; enhanced innovation and discovery; the growth of advertising enterprise; the increase of a bourgeoes class; and also the good news Reformation. Indigenous this an altering society emerged a common, unifying musical language, in details the polyphonic layout of the Franco-Flemish school.

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The creation of the Gutenberg press made distribution of music and musical theory possible on a wide scale. Need for music as entertainment and also as an activity for education amateurs raised with the appearance of a bourgeois class. Circulation of chansons, motets, and masses transparent Europe synchronized with the marriage of polyphonic practice into the liquid style i beg your pardon culminated in the second fifty percent of the 16 century in the occupational of composers such as Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria and also William Byrd. Family member political stability and prosperity in the short Countries, together with a growing system that music education in the area’s many churches and cathedrals, permitted the maintain of numerous singers and composers. This musicians were very sought throughout Europe, particularly in Italy, whereby churches and aristocratic courts hired them together composers and also teachers. By the end of the sixteenth century, Italy had soaked up the northern influences, through Venice, Rome, and other cities being centers of music activity, reversing the instance from a century earlier. Opera developed at this time in Florence together a deliberate attempt to resurrect the music of old Greece.

Music, significantly freed from middle ages constraints, in range, rhythm, harmony, form, and notation, ended up being a vehicle for new personal expression. Composers found ways to do music expressive that the texts they to be setting. Secular music absorbed techniques from spiritual music, and vice versa. Famous secular forms such as the chanson and also madrigal spread throughout Europe. Court employed virtuoso performers, both singers and instrumentalists. Music additionally became an ext self-sufficient with its availability in printed form, existing because that its very own sake. Many familiar modern instruments (including the violin, guitar, lute and also keyboard instruments), arisen into new forms during the Renaissance responding come the development of music ideas, presenting additional possibilities because that composers and also musicians to explore. Modern woodwind and also brass instruments like the bassoon and also trombone likewise appeared; prolonging the selection of sonic color and power. Throughout the fifteenth century the sound of full triads came to be common, and towards the end of the sixteenth-century the device of church modes started to failure entirely, giving way to the functional tonality which to be to overcome western arts music because that the next three centuries.


Chansonnier by Heinrich Isaac, 1484


From the Renaissance era both secular and sacred music survives in quantity, and also both vocal and also instrumental. An substantial diversity of musical styles and genres flourished during the Renaissance, and also can be heard on commercial recordings in the twenty-first century, consisting of masses, motets, madrigals, chansons, attach songs, important dances, and many others. Plenty of early music ensembles specializing in music of the period give concert tours and also make recordings, making use of a wide variety of interpretive styles.

One that the many pronounced functions of early on Renaissance European art music to be the increasing reliance top top the interval of the 3rd (in the center Ages, thirds had been taken into consideration dissonances). Polyphony ended up being increasingly intricate throughout the fourteenth century, with highly independent voices: the beginning of the fifteenth century confirmed simplification, with the voices often striving for smoothness. This was possible because that a substantially increased vocal selection in music–in the middle Ages, the narrow range made necessary frequent crossing of parts, for this reason requiring a better contrast between them.

The modal (as protest to tonal) characteristics of Renaissance music started to failure towards the finish of the period with the raised use the root activities of fifths. This later developed into one of the defining attributes of tonality.

The main qualities of Renaissance music room the following:

Music based upon modesRicher texture in four or more partsBlending quite than contrasting strands in the musical textureHarmony through a greater problem with the flow and also progression that chords

Polyphony is among the notable alters that mark the Renaissance native the Middle ages musically. Its use urged the usage of bigger ensembles and also demanded set of instruments that would blend together across the totality vocal range.

Principal liturgical develops which withstood throughout the whole Renaissance period were masses and also motets, with some other advancements towards the end, especially as composers of spiritual music started to take on secular develops (such together the madrigal) because that their very own designs.

Common sacred genres were the mass, the motet, the madrigale spirituale, and the laude.


Motets the Cyprien de Rore shown by Hans Mielich


During the period, secular music had an increasing distribution, through a wide variety of forms, yet one have to be cautious about assuming an explode in variety: due to the fact that printing make music an ext widely available, much an ext has survived from this era than from the preceding medieval era, and probably a rich save of popular music that the late Middle eras is irretrievably lost.

Secular music was music the was elevation of churches. The main species were the German Lied, Italian frottola, the French chanson, the Italian madrigal, and also the Spanish villancico. Various other secular vocal genres consisted of the caccia, rondeau, virelai, bergerette, ballade, musique mesurée, canzonetta, villanella, villotta, and also the lute song. Mixed forms such as the motet-chanson and also the secular motet also appeared.

Purely instrumental music had consort music for recorder or viol and other instruments, and also dances for miscellaneous ensembles. Usual instrumental genres to be the toccata, prelude, ricercar, and canzona. Dances played by crucial ensembles contained the basse danse, tourdion, saltarello, pavane, galliard, allemande, courante, bransle, canarie, and also lavolta. Music of plenty of genres might be arranged for a solo tool such as the lute, vihuela, harp, or keyboard. Such arrangements were referred to as intabulations.

Towards the end of the period, the early dramatic precursors that opera such together monody, the madrigal comedy, and the intermedio are seen.

Theory and also Notation

According come Margaret Bent, “Renaissance notation is underprescriptive by our standards; when translated into modern type it repurchase a prescriptive weight that overspecifies and distorts its original openness.”


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Ockeghem, Kyrie “Au travail suis,” excerpt


Renaissance compositions were notated only in separation, personal, instance parts; scores were very rare, and also bar lines were not used. Note values were generally larger than are in usage today; the primary unit of beat was the semibreve, or totality note. As had actually been the case because the Ars Nova, there can be either 2 or three of these because that each breve (a double-whole note), which might be looked on as indistinguishable to the modern “measure,” despite it was itself a note value and also a measure up is not. The instance can be taken into consideration this way: the is the very same as the rule whereby in modern-day music a quarter-note might equal either two eighth-notes or three, which would certainly be written as a “triplet.” by the very same reckoning, there could be two or 3 of the following smallest note, the “minim,” (equivalent to the contemporary “half note”) to each semibreve.

These various permutations were dubbed “perfect/imperfect tempus” in ~ the level the the breve–semibreve relationship, “perfect/imperfect prolation” at the level the the semibreve–minim, and also existed in all possible combinations v each other. Three-to-one was called “perfect,” and also two-to-one “imperfect.” rule existed also whereby single notes can be halved or double in value (“imperfected” or “altered,” respectively) once preceded or complied with by other details notes. Notes v black noteheads (such as 4 minutes 1 notes) emerged less often. This development of white mensural notation may be a an outcome of the raised use of paper (rather than vellum), together the weaker document was much less able to stand up to the scratching compelled to to fill in hard noteheads; notation of vault times, written on vellum, had been black. Various other colors, and later, filled-in notes, were used routinely together well, greatly to obtrude the abovementioned imperfections or alterations and also to contact for various other temporary rhythmical changes.

Accidentals to be not constantly specified, rather as in particular fingering symbol (tablatures) today. However, Renaissance musicians would have actually been extremely trained in dyadic counterpoint and also thus own this and other information crucial to check out a score, “what contemporary notation requires would then have actually been perfectly noticeable without notation come a singer versed in counterpoint.” A singer would interpret his or her part by figuring cadential recipe with other parts in mind, and when singing with each other musicians would prevent parallel octaves and also fifths or alter their cadential parts in light of decision by various other musicians.

It is through modern-day tablatures for various plucked instruments that us have got much information about what accidentals to be performed through the original practitioners.

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For details on specific theorists, check out Johannes Tinctoris, Franchinus Gaffurius, Heinrich Glarean, Pietro Aron, Nicola Vicentino, Tomás de Santa María, Gioseffo Zarlino, Vicente Lusitano, Vincenzo Galilei, Giovanni Artusi, johannes Nucius, and Pietro Cerone.