Music in Renaissance Period

Introduction Renaissance, literally, meaner rebirth; it is an era that began in sass’s and ended in 1600 and its school of thought dramatically shifted from religious and mystical ideals to a focus to human interactions. It is worthy and important to understand the changes from the transition of musical period, because they mark and shape the music industry that stands now. For instance, opera was in its infancy when Gigolo Canine (1551-1681) started writing the first opera and now operas can be found in all around the world and in different cultures.
There are tremendous aspects to talk bout of the transition from Medieval to Renaissance period, however this essay will only limit itself on the changes in vocal composition, and the historical events that might lead to such changes. Four aspects will be mainly focused on – change in style of vocal composition, reasons of increased secular composition, invention of new text types and what the biggest motivation behind all changes. Change in style of vocal composition When talking about the liturgical music from medieval period, one can easily associate to plainchant or more specific Gregorian chant.
Gregorian Chant usually ivies us a single and narrow ranged of sacred melody and is perceived as the voice of church in that period. Then, polyphony was evolved around twelfth century. Organza (earliest polyphony) involved of adding a faster melody on top of a plainchant. It is rather easy to identify medieval music from Renaissance music, since Renaissance music is relatively richer and fuller. The texture is mostly polyphonic; however could be also homophobic with successions of chords.

The bass register was used for the first time, this allows an expansion of pitch range at the same time usually provides a strong and full accompanies when play with the higher voices. Renaissance choral music study: Jonquil’s Eave Maria Polyphonic imitation is a technique that best represents the typical style of renaissance vocal composition. The idea is that a short melody is presented by one voice and the other voices imitate the same thing but with delays, thus is similar to an echo of the first melody.
This technique of overlapping provides the sense of continuity; and also as all the melodic lines were conceived at the same time instead of being conceived line by line in the renaissance period, the harmonic effect is more ICC and pleasant to hear. One of a great example of polyphonic imitation is the four-voice motet by Joaquin Desired (144(:)-1521). Being one of the most important composers in the renaissance period, Joaquin pioneered the “pervasive imitation” (a. K. Polyphonic imitation) as a contrapuntal device. His influence to the Western musical history is well recognized because pervasive imitation has became the ancestor of modern fugue (later in Baroque period,J. S. Bach was also being inspired and wrote many famous fugue composition. ) Eave Maria… Virgo serene (1502) is a work by Joaquin that may best illustrate the quinine of pervasion imitation. Eave Maria is a chapel that is choral music in the renaissance period that did not need instrumental accompaniment.
Yet, some a chapel used instrument to duplicate the vocal lines in order to support and reinforce the singers if they find it hard to maintain on the right pitches. At the opening pervasion imitation is used, soprano sings the single phrase “Eave Maria” and each voice sings the same melody in succession. In addition to imitation in different voices, it also occurs between pairs of voices. For instance, soprano and LTO come into duet in the phrase “Eave, cuss conception’, while the two lower voices imitate in succession.
In the phrase Virgo serene”, all voices sing together creating a feeling to completeness to the first verse. Comparing to the chants in medieval period, the pervasion imitation technique that was used in renaissance period definitely introduce new elements to the style of vocal composition and have made the choral singing more challenging yet interesting to work with. Increase in secular composition The development of secular pieces flourished in the renaissance period. This might u to several reasons, including the Reformation against Catholic Church, and the rise of printing press.
Catholic Church came to a crisis in the sixteenth century, because of the leaders’ obvious abuse of power and money. In addition to more education opportunities, people were more aware of the false knowledge the church had given them. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a scholar and musician; he realized the doctrine of the Catholic Church – wealthy sinners can buy their way to heaven was contradicting to what he saw in the New Testament letters of the apostle Paul (salvation can only be offered by the grace of God).
Such indulgence of the Church provoked reformation from different people, including Martin Luther who later led to the born of Lutheran Church and Henry the eighth from England. As the power of Catholic Church started to fall, people were more aware of the expression of individual’s feelings and compositional styles. Other than playing sacred music that centered on God, more and more secular music started to evolve. At the same time, musicians were taken more serious at the first time. In the medieval period, troubadours who were among the first to have written secular songs, were treated as the lowest social class.
However the fate of musicians had totally changed in renaissance period. The ideal of “universal man” had been promoted; it is believed that every educated person was to be trained in music. Musicians now had higher social status; they got paid better and were recognize their work. The invention of printing press also helped to increase the secular composition. Mass publication of music was resulted by the printing press, and now music could survive in volumes and became a common language that not only nobles and people in the court knew.
More people were educated with music and were able to make their win, thus the amount of secular music increased. Exploration of more music text types During the renaissance period, the increase in secular music had opened doors to other text types including madrigal, ballet and other instrumental music. Madrigal usually refers to a piece for several solo voices set to a short poem, and is usually set in a chapel or solo voices with very light accompany. Since it was among the first to set story into music, madrigal was also identify as the ancestor of the modern opera.
Many people have questioned the origin of opera, however it is lived that The Florentine Camera, a group of intellectuals who met in the home of Count Giovanni De’ Bard to discuss trends of art and philosophy, were the ones who inspired the development of opera. The Camera thought that the music in those days were very corrupted, and the only way to save it is to root back to the style of ancient Greek. They also centered on the overuse of polyphony, since polyphony could only create confusion rather than the clarity in expressing “conception of one’s soul”.
Therefore, they encouraged “monody’ that was a single melodic line with accompaniment, and also the ancestor of opera. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) was the earliest composer who explored the technique tone painting in madrigal. Tone painting is the illustration of the meaning of specific words through musical symbolism. For instance, if there were a word “long” in the text, then the tone would be very long on that word. Another type of renaissance secular text type is ballet.
Ballet is a danceable song for several solo voices; also following the ideal of the Camera ballet was mostly homophobic in texture with the melody in the highest voice. Before renaissance, instrumental music were Just accompaniment to vocal sounds. However, during the sixteenth century, more music was specifically written for instruments. Besides organ, harpsichord and clavichord both evolved in the fifteenth century. There was also a more organized grouping for instrument in terms of their volumes. They were two groups, altar capable and bass capable meaning loud and soft ensembles.
Altar capable that is the loud ensembles included shams, pipes and even percussion. While bass capable included harp, lute and other plucked string. The secret driving force There was a new ideal that was driving all those changes from medieval to incessant music – the Humanism. During the medieval period, music was often a way to seek for a more intimate relationship with God. Yet, the renaissance ideals shifted from “God-centric” to “human-centric”, the will and interactions of human were more emphasized.
The loss of power of the Catholic Church was originated to the psychological change of Man. People’s wills were no long being controlled by the authority, instead they were dare to question about the fidelity of the doctrine. The rise of secular music was another sign for the new renaissance ideal. Secular music brought entertainment to the incessant era; people could play secular music in weddings and on the street. This kind of entertainment was fulfilling to people in those times, and people were willing to engage to this activity that made them feel pleasant.
Conclusion The transition of the music in medieval period to renaissance period was indeed very spectacular. The literal meaning of the word “renaissance” best illustrated the state of the music from medieval period – rebirth. The change in vocal composition might be the most obvious change of all. The expansion of range, enriched tone color and the use of new technique had brought music to another level; the music in incessant was more challenging but more interesting to play with.
Due to the reformation of new churches, and the invention of printing, he amount of secular composition being produced had also increased in this era. New music text types had also been explored; the most important of all – madrigal had promoted the growth of opera in later years, ballet and also instrumental music. Yet, among all those change in style of music, or the political adjustments, the most powerful driving force behind the changes was the philosophy of humanism that was floating in the air; the ideals of it had allowed people to emphasize more on “human-centered” aspects like free will and entertainments.

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