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A Quick Summary of Renaissance Music


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A Quick Summary of Renaissance Music

Renaissance music consisted of secular and religious compositions. In fact, secular compositions were livelier than religious compositions were. It is important to note that the polyphonic style defined the Renaissance period. This style involved several independent melodies performed at the same time. A madrigal, which is a vocal music composition, is a classic example of Renaissance music.

Instruments Used In Renaissance Music

The Renaissance changed the perception of music forever. Previously, people had thought of instruments as accompaniments to aid vocalists as they sing. However, the Renaissance composers felt that instruments could be the focus of their compositions. The most common instrument among those who championed this type of music was the lute. Viols were also widely popular among these musicians. The most popular viol was the viola-da-gamba.

Eras Closely Associated With Renaissance Music

Music, art, and science flourished during the Renaissance period. It was also a time of social, cultural, and religious revolution. For example, the Church and the nobility had dominated music and its development throughout the Medieval Period. Societal changes during the Renaissance (1450 to 1600) encouraged deviations in how people composed music. Instrumental music became popular as did dance music. Secular music also started flourishing alongside religious music.

Prominent Renaissance Composers

Giovanni Palestrina (1525 – 1594)

Many people consider Palestrina as the greatest Renaissance composer. In fact, his fellow contemporaries bench-marked their music against his. Moreover, most of them followed his rules of composition strictly. It is important to note that Palestrina focused on sacred music. More specifically, he was influential in the development of music within the Roman Catholic Church.

William Byrd (1543 – 1623)

Unlike Palestrina, who was an Italian composer, Byrd was an Englishman. He is perhaps the most famous English composer of his time. Byrd wrote various kinds of music including consort, keyboard, and polyphony music. At first, he wrote sacred compositions for Anglican audiences. Then, he started writing sacred music for Catholics as soon as he converted to Catholicism.

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A Quick Summary of Renaissance Music

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