Introduction

Renaissance music is music composed in Europe throughout the Renaissance. Consensus among music historians–with significant dissent–has to be to begin the era about 1400, through the finish of the medieval era, and also to near it around 1600, through the start of the baroque period, therefore commencing the musical Renaissance about a century after the start of the Renaissance as construed in various other disciplines. As in the various other arts, the music of the duration was significantly influenced by the breakthroughs which define the early modern period: the climb of humanistic thought; the restore of the literary and artistic heritage of old Greece and Rome; raised innovation and also discovery; the expansion of advertisement enterprise; the increase of a bourgeois class; and also the good news Reformation. From this transforming society arised a common, unifying music language, in certain the polyphonic format of the Franco-Flemish school.

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The creation of the Gutenberg press made circulation of music and also musical theory feasible on a large scale. Need for music as entertainment and as an task for educated amateurs enhanced with the emergence of a bourgeoes class. Circulation of chansons, motets, and masses throughout Europe corresponded with the marriage of polyphonic practice into the liquid style i beg your pardon culminated in the second half of the sixteenth century in the job-related of composers such together Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria and also William Byrd. Relative political stability and prosperity in the short Countries, together with a growing system of music education in the area’s numerous churches and cathedrals, enabled the training of hundreds of singers and composers. These musicians were highly sought transparent Europe, specifically in Italy, where churches and also aristocratic courts rental them together composers and teachers. Through the finish of the sixteenth century, Italy had soaked up the north influences, through Venice, Rome, and also other cities being centers of music activity, reversing the instance from a century earlier. Opera arose at this time in Florence together a deliberate effort to resurrect the music of ancient Greece.

Music, progressively freed from medieval constraints, in range, rhythm, harmony, form, and notation, became a car for brand-new personal expression. Composers discovered ways to make music expressive that the texts they were setting. Secular music soaked up techniques from sacred music, and vice versa. Famous secular forms such together the chanson and madrigal spread throughout Europe. Courts employed virtuoso performers, both singers and also instrumentalists. Music likewise became an ext self-sufficient with its ease of access in printed form, existing for its own sake. Plenty of familiar contemporary instruments (including the violin, guitar, lute and keyboard instruments), emerged into brand-new forms throughout the Renaissance responding to the development of musical ideas, presenting more possibilities for composers and musicians to explore. Modern woodwind and brass tools like the bassoon and trombone additionally appeared; prolonging the selection of sonic color and power. During 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 breakdown entirely, giving way to the practical tonality which was to overcome western arts music for the following 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 enormous diversity of music styles and genres flourished throughout the Renaissance, and can it is in heard on advertisement recordings in the twenty-first century, including masses, motets, madrigals, chansons, accompanied songs, critical dances, and also many others. Countless early music ensembles specializing in music that the period give concert tours and make recordings, using a wide range of interpretive styles.

One of the most pronounced features of early Renaissance European arts music was the increasing reliance on the interval of the third (in the middle Ages, thirds had been thought about dissonances). Polyphony became increasingly elaborate throughout the fourteenth century, with very independent voices: the start of the fifteenth century verified simplification, with the voices often striving for smoothness. This was possible because that a considerably increased vocal selection in music–in the center Ages, the narrow range made vital frequent cross of parts, therefore requiring a better contrast between them.

The modal (as opposed to tonal) attributes of Renaissance music began to failure towards the end of the duration with the boosted use of root motions of fifths. This later emerged into among the defining characteristics of tonality.

The main qualities of Renaissance music space the following:

Music based upon modesRicher texture in 4 or much more partsBlending quite than difference strands in the music textureHarmony through a greater issue with the flow and progression that chords

Polyphony is one of the notable changes that note the Renaissance indigenous the Middle eras musically. The use motivated the use of bigger ensembles and also demanded to adjust of tools that would certainly blend together throughout the entirety vocal range.

Principal liturgical forms which sustained throughout the entire Renaissance period were masses and motets, with some other advancements towards the end, specifically as composers of sacred music started to embrace secular develops (such as the madrigal) because that their own designs.

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


Motets the Cyprien de Rore depicted by Hans Mielich


During the period, secular music had boosting distribution, through a wide range of forms, however one must be cautious around assuming an explosion in variety: because printing do music much more widely available, much an ext has survived from this era than from the preceding middle ages era, and also probably a rich keep of renowned music the the late Middle periods is irretrievably lost.

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

Purely important music consisted of consort music for recorder or viol and other instruments, and also dances for miscellaneous ensembles. Typical instrumental genres were the toccata, prelude, ricercar, and also canzona. Dances play by important ensembles contained the basse danse, tourdion, saltarello, pavane, galliard, allemande, courante, bransle, canarie, and lavolta. Music of many genres could be arranged for a solo instrument such together the lute, vihuela, harp, or keyboard. Together arrangements were dubbed intabulations.

Towards the finish of the period, the early dramatic precursors the opera such together monody, the madrigal comedy, and also the intermedio room seen.

Theory and also Notation

According to Margaret Bent, “Renaissance notation is underprescriptive by our standards; when interpreted into modern form it repurchase a prescriptive weight the overspecifies and also distorts its original openness.”


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Ockeghem, Kyrie “Au travail suis,” excerpt


Renaissance compositions to be notated only in individual parts; scores were exceptionally rare, and bar present were no used. Note values were typically larger than are in usage today; the primary unit the beat to be the semibreve, or totality note. As had been the case due to the fact that the Ars Nova, there might be either two or 3 of these for each breve (a double-whole note), which may be looked top top as indistinguishable to the modern-day “measure,” despite it was itself a keep in mind value and also a measure is not. The situation can be thought about this way: it is the exact same as the rule through which in modern music a quarter-note may equal either 2 eighth-notes or three, which would certainly be composed as a “triplet.” by the exact same reckoning, there might be two or three of the next smallest note, the “minim,” (equivalent to the contemporary “half note”) to every semibreve.

These various permutations were dubbed “perfect/imperfect tempus” at the level that the breve–semibreve relationship, “perfect/imperfect prolation” in ~ the level of the semibreve–minim, and also existed in all feasible combinations v each other. Three-to-one was dubbed “perfect,” and also two-to-one “imperfect.” rule existed additionally whereby single notes can be halved or double in worth (“imperfected” or “altered,” respectively) once preceded or followed by other specific notes. Notes v black noteheads (such as quarter notes) arisen less often. This breakthrough of white mensural notation might be a result of the raised use of paper (rather than vellum), together the weaker paper was much less able to stand up to the scratching compelled to fill in hard noteheads; notation of vault times, composed on vellum, had actually been black. Various other colors, and also later, filled-in notes, were offered routinely together well, largely to obtrude the abovementioned imperfections or alterations and to contact for other temporary rhythmical changes.

Accidentals were not constantly specified, somewhat as in details fingering notations (tablatures) today. However, Renaissance musician would have been extremely trained in dyadic counterpoint and thus possessed this and other information crucial to review a score, “what modern-day notation needs would certainly then have actually been perfectly obvious without notation come a singer versed in counterpoint.” A singer would analyze his or her component by figuring cadential formulas with various other parts in mind, and also when singing with each other musicians would prevent parallel octaves and fifths or transform their cadential components in irradiate of decisions by various other musicians.

It is through modern tablatures for assorted plucked instruments that we have gained much information around what accidentals were performed by the original practitioners.

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For info on certain theorists, view Johannes Tinctoris, Franchinus Gaffurius, Heinrich Glarean, Pietro Aron, Nicola Vicentino, Tomás de Santa María, Gioseffo Zarlino, Vicente Lusitano, Vincenzo Galilei, Giovanni Artusi, john Nucius, and also Pietro Cerone.