1550-1600 (Renaissance usually said to begin ca. 1420)
Tallis (1505-1585) If ye love me
Palestrina (1525-1594) Missa Aeterna Christi Munera (opening of Agnus Dei)
Dowland (1563-1626) Come again: Sweet love doth now invite (first two verses)
Byrd (1540-1623) ‘Pièces en 4 variations’ from Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (first three variations)
1501 – Petrucci produces the first triple impression printed score
1503 – Da Vinci paints Mona Lisa
1517 – Martin Luther kicks off the Reformation with a series of statements criticising the Catholic church
1531 – Church of England breaks from Catholic Church under Henry VII
1545 – Catholic church convenes the Council of Trent to address the need for reform (Counter-Reformation)
1558 – Elizabeth I accedes throne in England
1581 – Philip II accedes throne in Spain
1588 – Defeat of Spanish Armada
Raphael’s Madonna dell Granduca (1505)
Bramante’s Tempietto di San Pietro in Rome (1502)
Music in the Renaissance
Most composers in the Renaissance period were part of the growing middle classes, usually working either at the courts of noblemen or for the church.
During the Renaissance composers gradually moved away from the very rigid structures of Mediaeval music. Whilst in early Renaissance music it was still common, for example, was to weave a musical texture around a pre-existing melody sung in long notes in the tenor part (cantus firmus), textures became more fluid in the sixteenth century.
As composers developed a freer style, they also became more interested in the details of setting a text; Mediaeval composers, by contrast, often did not even show exactly how the words were supposed to fit with the music (although composers did sometimes evoke the text through the music – for example in Solage’s Fumeux fume par fumee from the fourteenth century).
In the early sixteenth century composers were increasingly writing in score rather than adding one complete part at a time
The late Renaissance also saw the rise of distinctive national styles – previously an international style had developed that was dominated by composers from the lowlands of Northern Europe.
Musicians in the sixteenth century continued the earlier tradition of arranging vocal music for solo and ensemble instruments. Lute and keyboard arrangements of vocal music usually involved both improvised and written ornamentation.
Unlike in the earlier part of the Renaissance, composers increasingly specified for which instruments they were writing (a trend that continued in the Baroque period).
Through-composed with points of imitation
Settings of pre-existing melodies
Melody and rhythm
Regular pulse but flexible metre/accentuation
Rhythm tends either to be fluid with irregular phrase lengths (e.g. in sacred polyphony of Palestrina) or dominated by strong dance patterns (e.g. instrumental dances and some madrigals)
· Melodic motion is mostly stepwise
Harmony and tonality
Mostly triadic harmony in root and first inversion
Suspensions at cadences
Tierce de Picardie
Texture and resources
Homogenous textures (parts relatively equal and blended)
Extensive use of counterpoint, particularly imitation (dance-style music tends to be simpler and more homophonic)
Consorts of viols, recorders and brass
Text in vocal music clearer than in earlier music
Typical pieces (all tracks available on Short History of Music Moodle)
Instrumental (including keyboard)
Fantasia, Ricercar & Canzona
Willaert (1490-1562) ‘Ricercar X’ from Nova Musica
Byrd (1540-1623) ‘Pièces en 4 variations’ from Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (Fortune No. 65, BK 6)
Cabezon (1510-1566) Diferencias sobre el canto de La Dama le demanda