Introduction

Renaissance music is music created in Europe throughout the Renaissance. Consensus amongst music historians–with notable dissent–has to be to begin the era roughly 1400, with the finish of the middle ages era, and to close it roughly 1600, through the beginning of the baroque period, as such commencing the music Renaissance about a hundred years after the beginning of the Renaissance as construed in various other disciplines. Together in the other arts, the music that the period was significantly influenced by the developments which specify the early contemporary period: the climb of mankind thought; the restore of the literary and also artistic heritage of ancient Greece and also Rome; boosted innovation and discovery; the growth of commercial enterprise; the rise of a bourgeoes class; and also the protestant Reformation. Indigenous this transforming society arised a common, unifying musical language, in specific the polyphonic format of the Franco-Flemish school.

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The innovation of the Gutenberg push made distribution of music and also musical theory feasible on a large scale. Demand for music as entertainment and also as an activity for education amateurs enhanced with the emergence of a bourgeoes class. Circulation of chansons, motets, and also masses transparent Europe coincided with the marriage of polyphonic practice into the fluid style which culminated in the second fifty percent of the 16 century in the job-related of composers such together Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria and also William Byrd. Family member political stability and prosperity in the low Countries, along with a growing system of music education and learning in the area’s plenty of churches and cathedrals, enabled the cultivate of numerous singers and also composers. These musicians were very sought throughout Europe, particularly in Italy, where churches and also aristocratic courts hired them together composers and also teachers. By the finish of the sixteenth century, Italy had absorbed the northern influences, with Venice, Rome, and also other urban being centers of musical activity, reversing the situation from a century earlier. Opera occurred at this time in Florence together a deliberate effort to resurrect the music of old Greece.

Music, progressively freed from middle ages constraints, in range, rhythm, harmony, form, and notation, came to be a vehicle for new personal expression. Composers found ways to do music expressive that the texts they were setting. Secular music absorbed techniques from spiritual music, and vice versa. Renowned secular creates such as the chanson and also madrigal spread throughout Europe. Courts employed virtuoso performers, both singers and also instrumentalists. Music also became much more self-sufficient v its accessibility in published form, existing because that its own sake. Countless familiar contemporary instruments (including the violin, guitar, lute and keyboard instruments), occurred into new forms throughout the Renaissance responding to the development of music ideas, presenting further possibilities for composers and musicians to explore. Contemporary woodwind and brass tools like the bassoon and trombone additionally appeared; prolonging the range of sonic color and power. Throughout the fifteenth century the sound of full triads ended up being common, and towards the finish of the sixteenth-century the system of church modes started to break down entirely, giving means to the functional tonality which was to dominate western art 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 both vocal and also instrumental. An enormous diversity of musical styles and genres flourished throughout the Renaissance, and also can it is in heard on advertising recordings in the twenty-first century, consisting of masses, motets, madrigals, chansons, accompanied songs, crucial dances, and also many others. Numerous early music ensembles specializing in music that the duration give concert tours and also make recordings, using a wide variety of interpretive styles.

One the the many pronounced attributes of at an early stage Renaissance European arts music was the boosting reliance on the term of the third (in the middle Ages, thirds had been taken into consideration dissonances). Polyphony came to be increasingly fancy throughout the fourteenth century, with very independent voices: the start of the fifteenth century confirmed simplification, with the voices frequently striving for smoothness. This was possible because the a substantially increased vocal range in music–in the middle Ages, the narrow range made vital frequent cross of parts, for this reason requiring a better contrast in between them.

The modal (as opposed to tonal) qualities of Renaissance music started to breakdown towards the end of the duration with the boosted use that root movements of fifths. This later developed into one of the defining characteristics of tonality.

The main features of Renaissance music space the following:

Music based upon modesRicher texture in 4 or an ext partsBlending quite than difference strands in the musical textureHarmony with a greater worry with the flow and also progression the chords

Polyphony is among the notable alters that note the Renaissance indigenous the Middle periods musically. Its use encouraged the use of bigger ensembles and also demanded to adjust of tools that would blend together throughout the entirety vocal range.

Principal liturgical creates which withstood throughout the whole Renaissance duration were masses and also motets, with some other advances towards the end, particularly as composers of sacred music began to take on secular creates (such as the madrigal) because that their own designs.

Common spiritual genres to be 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 raising distribution, through a wide variety of forms, yet one have to be cautious around assuming an explosion in variety: since printing make music much more widely available, much much more has survived from this era than from the preceding middle ages era, and probably a rich store of well-known music of the so late Middle periods is irretrievably lost.

Secular music to be music that was independent of churches. The main varieties were the German Lied, Italian frottola, the French chanson, the Italian madrigal, and also the Spanish villancico. Various other secular vocal genres contained the caccia, rondeau, virelai, bergerette, ballade, musique mesurée, canzonetta, villanella, villotta, and the lute song. Mixed develops such together the motet-chanson and the secular motet likewise appeared.

Purely critical music included consort music because that recorder or viol and also other instruments, and also dances for various ensembles. Common instrumental genres were the toccata, prelude, ricercar, and canzona. Dances play by critical ensembles consisted of the basse danse, tourdion, saltarello, pavane, galliard, allemande, courante, bransle, canarie, and lavolta. Music of countless genres can be arranged because that a solo instrument such together the lute, vihuela, harp, or keyboard. Together arrangements were referred to as intabulations.

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

Theory and also Notation

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


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Ockeghem, Kyrie “Au travail suis,” excerpt


Renaissance compositions were notated just in individual parts; scores were very rare, and bar currently were not used. Keep in mind values were generally larger than space in use today; the major unit of beat was the semibreve, or totality note. As had been the case because the Ars Nova, there could be either 2 or 3 of these for each breve (a double-whole note), which might be looked top top as identical to the contemporary “measure,” though it to be itself a note value and also a measure is not. The situation can be thought about this way: the is the very same as the rule through which in modern music a quarter-note may equal either two eighth-notes or three, which would certainly be composed as a “triplet.” through the exact same reckoning, there might be two or 3 of the next smallest note, the “minim,” (equivalent to the contemporary “half note”) to every semibreve.

These various permutations were referred to as “perfect/imperfect tempus” in ~ the level of the breve–semibreve relationship, “perfect/imperfect prolation” at the level that the semibreve–minim, and existed in all feasible combinations through each other. Three-to-one was dubbed “perfect,” and two-to-one “imperfect.” rules existed likewise whereby single notes might be halved or doubled in value (“imperfected” or “altered,” respectively) when preceded or complied with by other details notes. Notes with black noteheads (such as 4 minutes 1 notes) occurred less often. This development of white mensural notation may be a result of the enhanced use of record (rather than vellum), together the weaker file was much less able to withstand the scratching required to fill in heavy noteheads; notation of vault times, written on vellum, had actually been black. Various other colors, and also later, filled-in notes, were provided routinely as well, mostly to force the previously mentioned imperfections or alterations and also to contact for other temporary rhythmical changes.

Accidentals to be not constantly specified, rather as in particular fingering notations (tablatures) today. However, Renaissance musicians would have been extremely trained in dyadic counterpoint and also thus possessed this and other information essential to read a score, “what contemporary notation calls for would 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 recipe with various other parts in mind, and also when singing together musicians would protect against parallel octaves and fifths or change their cadential components in light of decisions by other musicians.

It is through modern-day tablatures for miscellaneous plucked tools that we have gained much information around what accidentals were performed by the original practitioners.

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For information 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 Pietro Cerone.