the renaissance period - .the renaissance period the renaissance, which literally means...

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  • The Renaissance Period The Renaissance, which literally means rebirth in French, saw movement and change in many different spheres of cultural activity as Europe began to rediscover and identify with its Greco-Roman heritage. The natural sciences (in

    particular astronomy) began advancing at a rapid pace, and some philosophers began to discuss secular humanism as a valid system. The discovery of the American continents by European navigators resulted in the first widespread speculations of international law and began a crisis of consci ence over human rights that would haunt the West for centuries to come. In particular, however, the Renaissance is remembered for a great a flourishing of the Arts. Secular instrumental music (for early instruments like shawms, crumhorns, and sackbuts) became increasingly popular during this period and composers began to write it down for the first time. The polyphonic madrigal became very popular in England thanks to composers like John Dowland and William

    Byrd. The motet, a three-part polyphonic composition written for voices or instruments, became popular around this time as well. Despite the increase in secularism, it was still within a religious context that the Renaissance arts truly thrived. Renaissance popes (corrupt as they were) were great patrons of such artists as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Gianlorenzo Bernini. Composers of church music expanded polyphony to six, eight, or even ten interwoven parts. The masses of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Toms Luis de Victoria, and Orlando di Lasso in particular remain some of the most beautiful music ever composed. This polyphonic style was also used by the French composer Josquin des Prez, who wrote both sacred and secular music.

    The Renaissance Period at a Glance

    New Genres New Techniques New Media Composers Madrigals, motets, polyphonic masses

    Polyphonic techniques expanded for up to ten simultaneous parts.

    Choirs were expanded to include women. Composers began to write down music for early instruments.

    John Dowland, William Byrd, Palestrina, Victoria, Di Lasso, Des Prez

    Important Terms Madrigal a usually upbeat polyphonic composition for vocal ensemble from England Motet a three-part polyphonic piece for voices or instruments, can be sacred or secular Mass the central worship service in most Christian churches; musically, a suite consisting of five movements called the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei (named after the first words of the text for each movement)


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