music in the renaissance (1450-1600). renaissance means… rebirth chief characteristics of...
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Music in The Renaissance (1450-1600)
Renaissance MeansRebirthChief characteristics of the beginning of this period in the history of Western Europe was a sharpening of interest in learning and culture centering particularly on many of the ideas expressed of what was known by the ancient Greeks and RomansIt was also a great age of change, exploration and discovery (Fall of Constantinople in 1453, Discovery of Americas 1492, Guttenberg Printing The Bible 1456), and great advances in science and astronomyMan also explored the mysteries of the human spirit and emotions in more depths, developing a keener awareness both of himself and of the world about him, beginning to reason things out for himself more openly
These factors of course had great impact upon painters (Boticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Bosch), architects (Da Vinci), writers (Cervantes, Shakespeare), philosophers (Machiavelli, Montaigne, Bacon, rasme, Luther), and our favorite topic, composers
ComposersGuillaume Dufay (1397-1474)Johannes Ockeghem (1425-1497)Josquin des Prez (1440-1521)Thomas Tallis (1505-1585)Giovanni da Palestrina (1525-1594)
William Byrd (1543-1594)Thomas Morley (1557-1602)Jacopo Peri (1561-1633)Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)
Renaissance also MeansDue to the lost of power of the church and the new humanistic ideas, musical activity gradually shifted from the church to the courtEducation was considered a status symbol by aristocrats and the upper middle class. Also, every educated person was expected to be trained in musicCatholic Church is less powerful than during Middle Ages partly due to Martin Luthers Protestant ReformationMore books are printed in EuropeRenaissance town musicians: higher pay and statusFlemish composers: parts of the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France. Germany, England and Spain other countries with a vibrant musical life
Characteristics of Renaissance MusicWords and MusicVocal music is still more important than instrumentalMusic enhances the meaning and emotion of the text. Word painting: musical representation of specific poetic imagesModerate, balanced way of expression: no extreme contrasts of dynamics, tone color or rhythm
Characteristics of Renaissance MusicTextureChiefly polyphonic. 4, 5 or 6 voice parts with equal melodic interestImitation is commonHomophonic texture is also usedFuller sound than medieval: bass registerMild and relaxed: consonant chords.Golden age of a cappellaComposers considered the harmonic effect of chords rather than superimposing one melody above another
Characteristics of Renaissance MusicRhythm and MelodyRhythm is a gentle flow: Each melodic line has great rhythmic independenceMelody usually moves along a scale with few large leaps
Characteristics of Renaissance MusicImitationThe key device used by composers to weave this kind of texture is called imitation. One voice-part introduces a snatch of tune, then is immediately imitated, or copied, by another voice-part (Thomas Morleys piece is an example of this new texture).At phrase-endings where the music might come to rest and the flow be broken, the composer often introduced fresh imitation. While a chord is held at the end of a phrase, one of the voice-parts sets off with a new tuneful idea, soon imitated again.In this way, the composer overlapped the strands of his texture and created a continuous, seamless musical flow.
Characteristics of Renaissance MusicHarmonyAlthough, as we listen to this music, the weaving of the polyphony is the most important aspect, the Renaissance composer was becoming increasingly aware of harmony the vertical framework of the chords which support the horizontal weaving of the counterpoint.He therefore became especially concerned with the treatment of discords.All this led to a much wider range of expression.
Church MusicRenaissance composers began to take a keener interest in writing secular music, including music for instruments independent of voices.Even so, the greatest musical treasures of the Renaissance were composed for the church.The style of Renaissance church music is described as choral polyphony contrapuntal music for one or more choirs, with several singers to each voice-part.Much of this music was intended to be sung a capella (for the chapel).
Church Music: Motets and MassesMotetA polyphonic vocal style of composition.The motet was popular in the middle ages, when it consisted of a tenor foundation upon which other tunes were addedPolyphonic choral work set to sacred Latin text other than the ordinary of the massThe texts of these voices could be sacred or secular, Latin or French, and usually had little to do with each other, with the result that the composition lacked unity and directionBy the Renaissance, the separate voices of the motet had adopted the same text (by this time the texts were religious almost without exception) and each voice was considered a part of the whole rather than a whole in itself, thus finally giving the motet unity and grace
MassMass polyphonic choral work with 5 sections: KyrieGloriaCredoSanctusAgnus Dei
Church Music: Motets and MassesThe main forms of church music were still the mass and the motet.These were now written in at least four part voice-parts as composers began to explore the pitch-range below the tenor by writing a part we now call bass, creating a fuller, richer texture.Indeed, one of the most noticeable differences between Medieval and Renaissance styles is that of musical texture.Instead of building up the texture layer after layer, the composer worked gradually through the piece, attending to all voice-parts simultaneously in a continuous web of polyphony.
The Netherlands and ItalyA curious fact about music in the Renaissance is that, though Italy and England were to eventually become the most important musical centers, composers who took the lead in almost every direction came from the Netherlands.Many of these composers settled n other countries, particularly Italy, taking up important positions and strongly influencing the music of native composers.
From Belgium, contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci and ColumbusSpent most of his life in ItalyDescribed as The Prince of MusicAdmired for the deeply emotional quality of his musicHis compositions strongly influenced other composers, and were enthusiastically praised by music loversHe wrote masses, motets, and secular vocal pieces as well
Lets listen to his motet, Absalon fili, a dark-colored setting of King Davids lament upon the death of his treacherous son, Absalom (as told in the Bible)
Josquin des Prez (1440-1521)
Choral music peaked in beauty and expressiveness during the 2nd half of the 16th century in the music of Palestrina.Composed 104 masses and some 450 other sacred worksFor centuries, his masses are regarded as models of church musicCareer centered in RomeHis Pope Marcellus Mass (c.1563) sounds fuller than Josquin des Prezs mass (1504) because it is set for six voices instead of fourSATTBBThe opening of the Agnus Dei has a calm, serene beautyPalestrina smoothly waves a six voice counterpoint into a continuous, flowing texture.Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
The Council of Trent attacked the church music of the Renaissance because it used secular tunes, noisy instruments, and theatrical singing. As a result of the deliberations of the Council of Trent, an attempt was made to purify Catholic Church music
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
German ChoralesProtestant Church led by Martin Luther was seeking ways of bringing its people into a more direct contact with GodA new tradition of writing hymns in German was bornThey were sometimes newly composed, some adaptations or translations of existing tunesThey named them chorale
Secular Music for VoicesA rich flowering of secular songs soon followed all over Europe varied in style and expressing every kind of mood and emotion:Italian frottola, German lied, Spanish villancico, French chanson, and most importantly, the Italian madrigal.The madrigal originated in Italy around 1520 and became highly popular in EnglandEnglish madrigals are lighter and more humorous than Italian ones
Elizabethan MadrigalsIn 1588, a collection of Italian madrigals with English words was published in England.This sparked off great enthusiasm, and soon English composers were writing their own madrigals which were performed in the homes of keen music lovers everywhere.In England, three kinds of madrigals emerged: the madrigal proper, the ballett, and the ayre.
Madrigal ProperThe madrigal is a piece for several solo voices set to a short poem, usually about loveIt combines homophonic and polyphonic texturesUsually very contrapuntal, with much use of imitation, making all the voices equally importantWords and music are closely matched, introducing word-painting, which are vivid illustrations of the meaning of certain words
Word-paintingLate Renaissance composers were concerned with matching text with music in such a way that the latter could be said to express the former.Madrigalists used a declamation technique known as word painting to make musical notes illustrate word meanings, trying literally to paint visual images with sonic materials.
Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)Organist and Church composerOne of the greatest Elizabethan madrigals composers"As Vesta was from Latmos hill descending" (1603) was written for six solo voices.It uses word painting throughout to declaim textual meaning
As Vesta was from Latmos Hill descendingmm 1-9: "Latmos hill" - "hill" is always set with the highest note in the phrasemm 8-9: "descending" - uses d