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Renaissance Era

1475-1600
Time frame
intellectual & artistic activity began in Italy around 1350 and spread to Northern Europe
musical development started in 1475
terms means rebirth or reawakening
Renaissance thinkers were inspired by ancient Greece & Rome
Valued personal achievement, intellectual independence, and discovery
Humanism
A philosophical perspective very different from the Medieval Era
Emphasis on human worth, creativity, and capacity

Musical Style
Melody
Stepwise motion, narrow range
Diatonic but some chromaticism used in secular music
Harmony
Not as much dissonance
Consonant triad became the basic building block of harmony
Rhythm
Duple meter now as common as triple meter
Sacred music- relaxed with strong downbeats
Secular music- lively, use of syncopation
Color
More instrumental music has survived
Unaccompanied vocal music remain predominant sound
Texture
Polyphonic texture of 4-5 vocal lines is standard
Imitative counterpoint-dominant
Motet
Composition for a choir acappella
Latin text on sacred subject
o Texts were more vivid than that of a mass
o Often from Old Testament Psalms
Chromatic musical style
Performed in either church, chapel, or at home in private prayer

Josquin Depres (ca. 1455-1521)


Prolific composer (20 masses, 70 motets, 70+ secular works)
Early career spent in Italy and employed as a singer
Had a temperamental and egotistical personality
Recognized as a genius
Compared to be the musical counterpoint to Michaelangelo
Loved balance, and symmetry of music
One of the first major composers to have numerous works printed
o Music printing lead to gradual decline of regional and vocal styles to a more
homogenous European style
17 masses, many motets printed by Petrucci
Works are widely known
Wrote over 70 secular songs- chansons are French folk songs
Frottola- predecessor of the madrigal
El Grillo- the cricket- secular song
Ave Maria- 1485 in Italy
o motet
o Each stanza makes a reference to a feast of the year
o All voices are equally important

The Reformation
Began on October 31, 1517
Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany
o Objected to a number of items related to music
Use of Latin text
Congregations lacked preparation
Musical complexity
o Created the choral (hymn)
Simple religious composition for congregational singing
Much of northern Europe joined the reformation

The Counter-Reformation
The church of Rome reformed its administration, doctrine, art, liturgy, and music
Reformed aspects departed by church
o Council of Trent (1453-1563)
Only minor part of deliberations involved music
Object to dense imitation that obscured the text
The music of Palestrina demonstrated the polyphony could be composed in a clear
dignified manner

Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina (1525-1594)


Born in Palestrina, near Rome
Spent nearly entire career at major churches in Rome including St. Peters Basilica
Called the Savior of church music
104 masses, 250 motets

Elizabethan England
Henry VIII- (1491-1547)
Wanted a divorce because he couldnt produce a male heir
Killed his wives
Started his own church- Protestants
Bloody Mary
Daughter of Henry VII and Catherine of Aragon
Returned England to Catholicism
Killed others who wouldnt
Elizabeth I- (1533-1603)
Switched all England back to Protestant
Spanish Armada (1588)- English defeated Spanish and open sea routes

Madrigals
Genre began in Italy, but was soon popular in Europe (esp. England)
Definition
o A composition for several voices (typically 4-5)
o Men and women could sing
o Usually acapella
o Amateur musicians (party music)
Text, secular poems, usually love
Vivid musical imagery of text
o Word painting- produce musical gestures that correspond with meaning of word

Weelkes- (1575-1623)
Organist at Winchester college
Dismissed for drunkenness
As Vesta was from Latmos Hill Descending

Thomas Morely (1557-1603)


Helped develop Madrigals
William Byrd was teacher
Wrote Renaissance Ballet (fa-la)
o Vocal lines then non-sense syllables
MY bonny lass she smileth

Other Madrigal writers


William Byrd (1543-1623)
John Dowland (1563-1636)
John Farmer (1570-1601)
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
John Wilbye 1574-1683)