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WEEK 5: Music of the Renaissance

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Martinson Intro to Music

on 22 September 2017

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Transcript of WEEK 5: Music of the Renaissance

Music of the Renaissance

Renaissance = "Rebirth"
Sacred Music in the Renaissance
Two primary forms of sacred Renaissance music:

MASS: Polyphonic choral composition made up of five sections: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei

& MOTET: Polyphonic choral work set to a sacred Latin text other than the ordinary of the mass
Palestrina (1525-1594) & The Counter-Reformation
Secular Vocal Music
On the rise – music became an important leisure activity and upper class individuals were expected to play an instrument and read notation
Instrumental Music
- Instruments played an important role in secular dance music beginning in the 16th century
- Dancing very popular and important social indicator
- Growth of amateur music making
Cultural Ideologies
- Desire to understand world and history, developments in technology, increasingly secular attitude
- A new interest in human capability and products
- Concept of the “universal man” (Renaissance man)

Music in the Renaissance
- Increased emphasis on humanism seen in greater simplicity and beauty in music
- Sacred genres: mass & motet
- Secular genres: madrigal & instrumental music

Musicians of the Time…

Music making gradually shifted towards the court, rather than the church
Musicians enjoyed a very high social status at this time & composers now sought credit for their work

Italy was the top center for music in the 16th century. Germany, England and Spain were also important
Josquin des Prez (1440-1521)
- Influential Flemish composer
- Compositions include masses, motets, and secular vocal pieces
Humanism in Sound
- Slow-moving triads may reflect the new attention to beauty
- Composers now making musical choices based on sound
- Meaning of the text matters
WORD PAINTING: Musical representation of poetic images
Texture & Rhythm
- Mostly polyphonic
- Most pieces sung without accompaniment (a cappella) and had 4-6 voices with equal parts.
- Instrument not specifically requested
- Imitation common

Flowing – Greater number of overlapping parts
Ave Maria…Virgo Serena (Hail, Mary…Serene Virgin)

- Four-voice motet
- Polyphonic imitation: “Ave Maria”
- Each voice enters before the other is entirely finished, creating this seamless overlapping flow
- Textural change
Counter Reformation
- Early 1500s: Catholic church challenged by the Protesants. The Council of Trent was formed to rein in corruption in the church and counter the move toward Protestantism

- Belief that music becomes too vain/excessive

Decision: church music should inspire devotion to the church, rather than to please the ear
Stylistic Features (Palestrina)
- Music perfectly reflects this restraint and sense of spirituality required of the Counter Reformation
- One of the most important Italian Renaissance composers
- 104 masses and approximately 450 other sacred works

Listening Example:
Pope Marcellus Mass (1562-1563), Kyrie
- A cappella (no accompaniment) choir in six parts with an imitative texture
- Illustrates the clear text setting required by the Council of Trent
-Aptly dedicated to Pope Marcellus II
Vocal Music
- Secular vocal music on the rise
- Written for groups of solo voices and for solo voices with instrumental accompaniment
- Poems formed the basis of many secular songs
- Word painting also common in secular music
- Development of printing aided the dissemination of music
- Common beginning around 1520
- Written for several solo voices set to a short poem, usually about love
- Combines homophonic and polyphonic textures
- Word painting
Listening Example:
As Vesta Was Descending (1601), Thomas Weelkes
Word Painting:

Descending scale As vesta was from Latmos hill descending
Ascending scales she spied a maiden queen the same ascending
Rapid descend attended on by all the shepherds swain,
Figures to whom Diana’s darlings came running down amain
Two voices first two by two
Three voices then three by three together
Solo voice leaving their goddess all alone, hasted thither,
Groups of Instruments
CONSORTS (ensemble) of instruments develop

Winds/brass: Shams, Crumbhorn, Cornets, Recorders, Sac butts
Bowed strings: vielles (fretted/bowed), violin (emerging)
Plucked: lute, venuela, keyboard, emerging guitar, harpsichord, clavichord
Lute Song
Lute: a plucked string instrument with a body shaped like half a pear. It can play chords, melodies and rapid scales; and even in polyphonic music.
Passamezzo and Galliard,
Pierre Francisque Caroubel from Terpsichore (1612) by Michael Praetorius
- Dance for five unspecified instruments
- Dances from Terpsichore, a collection of over 300 dance tunes arranged for instrumental ensemble by Michael Praetorius

Listening Example:
- Passamezzo: stately dance in duple meter (aa bb cc abc)
Select Instruments
- English Madrigal with 6 voices
John Dowland, Flow My Tears (1600)
- Dowland was a leading English composer of lute music and lute virtuoso

Listening Example:
- Form: three brief musical sections (AA, BB, CC)
- Slow tempo, minor key and descending four-note melodic pattern representing falling tears
the music of the Renaissance
how characteristics and ideologies of the time period impacted the resultant music
major works by prominent composers
terminology from the musical elements unit to describe music of the Renaissance
Full transcript