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Renaissance music is traditionally understood to cover European music of the 15th and 16th centuries, later than the Renaissance era as it is understood in other disciplines. Rather than starting from the early 14th-century ars nova , the Trecento music was treated by musicology as a coda to Medieval music and the new era dated from the rise of triadic harmony and the spread of the ' contenance angloise ' style from Britain to the Burgundian School. A convenient watershed for its end is the adoption of basso continuo at the beginning of the Baroque period.
The period may be roughly subdivided, with an early period corresponding to the career of Guillaume Du Fay (c. 1397–1474) and the cultivation of cantilena style, a middle dominated by Franco-Flemish School and the four-part textures favored by Johannes Ockeghem (1410's or 20's – 1497) and Josquin des Prez (late 1450's – 1521), and culminating during the Counter-Reformation in the florid counterpoint of Palestrina (c. 1525 – 1594) and the Roman School.
Music was increasingly freed from medieval constraints, and more variety was permitted in range, rhythm, harmony, form, and notation. On the other hand, rules of counterpoint became more constrained, particularly with regard to treatment of dissonances. In the Renaissance, music became a vehicle for personal expression. Composers found ways to make vocal music more expressive of the texts they were setting. Secular music absorbed techniques from sacred music, and vice versa. Popular secular forms such as the chanson and madrigal spread throughout Europe. Courts employed virtuoso performers, both singers and instrumentalists. Music also became more self-sufficient with its availability in printed form, existing for its own sake.
Precursor versions of many familiar modern instruments (including the violin, guitar, lute and keyboard instruments) developed into new forms during the Renaissance. These instruments were modified to respond to the evolution of musical ideas, and they presented new possibilities for composers and musicians to explore. Early forms of modern woodwind and brass instruments like the bassoon and trombone also appeared, extending the range of sonic color and increasing the sound of instrumental ensembles. During the 15th century, the sound of full triads became common, and towards the end of the 16th century the system of church modes began to break down entirely, giving way to functional tonality (the system in which songs and pieces are based on musical "keys"), which would dominate Western art music for the next three centuries.
From the Renaissance era, notated secular and sacred music survives in quantity, including vocal and instrumental works and mixed vocal/instrumental works. A wide range of musical styles and genres flourished during the Renaissance, including masses, motets, madrigals, chansons, accompanied songs, instrumental dances, and many others. Beginning in the late 20th century, numerous early music ensembles were formed. Ensembles specializing in music of the Renaissance era give concert tours and make recordings, using modern reproductions of historical instruments and using singing and performing styles which musicologists believe were used during the era.
One of the most pronounced features of early Renaissance European art music was the increasing reliance on the interval of the third and its inversion, the sixth (in the Middle Ages, thirds and sixths had been considered dissonances, and only perfect intervals were treated as consonances: the perfect fourth the perfect fifth, the octave, and the unison). Polyphony – the use of multiple, independent melodic lines, performed simultaneously – became increasingly elaborate throughout the 14th century, with highly independent voices (both in vocal music and in instrumental music). The beginning of the 15th century showed simplification, with the composers often striving for smoothness in the melodic parts. This was possible because of a greatly increased vocal range in music – in the Middle Ages, the narrow range made necessary frequent crossing of parts, thus requiring a greater contrast between them to distinguish the different parts. The modal (as opposed to tonal, also known as "musical key", an approach developed in the subsequent Baroque music era, c. 1600–1750) characteristics of Renaissance music began to break down towards the end of the period with the increased use of root motions of fifths or fourths (see the "circle of fifths" for details). An example of a chord progression in which the chord roots move by the interval of a fourth would be the chord progression, in the key of C Major: "D minor/G Major/C Major" (these are all triads; three-note chords). The movement from the D minor chord to the G Major chord is an interval of a perfect fourth. The movement from the G Major chord to the C Major chord is also an interval of a perfect fourth. This later developed into one of the defining characteristics of tonality during the Baroque era.[ citation needed ]
The main characteristics of Renaissance music are.:
The development of polyphony produced the notable changes in musical instruments that mark the Renaissance from the Middle Ages musically. Its use encouraged the use of larger ensembles and demanded sets of instruments that would blend together across the whole vocal range.
As in the other arts, the music of the period was significantly influenced by the developments which define the Early Modern period: the rise of humanistic thought; the recovery of the literary and artistic heritage of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome; increased innovation and discovery; the growth of commercial enterprises; the rise of a bourgeois class; and the Protestant Reformation. From this changing society emerged a common, unifying musical language, in particular, the polyphonic style of the Franco-Flemish school.
The invention of the printing press in 1439 made it cheaper and easier to distribute music and music theory texts on a wider geographic scale and to more people. Prior to the invention of printing, written music and music theory texts had to be hand-copied, a time-consuming and expensive process. Demand for music as entertainment and as a leisure activity for educated amateurs increased with the emergence of a bourgeois class. Dissemination of chansons, motets, and masses throughout Europe coincided with the unification of polyphonic practice into the fluid style which culminated in the second half of the sixteenth century in the work of composers such as Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Orlande de Lassus, Thomas Tallis, William Byrd and Tomás Luis de Victoria. Relative political stability and prosperity in the Low Countries, along with a flourishing system of music education in the area's many churches and cathedrals allowed the training of large numbers of singers, instrumentalists, and composers. These musicians were highly sought throughout Europe, particularly in Italy, where churches and aristocratic courts hired them as composers, performers, and teachers. Since the printing press made it easier to disseminate printed music, by the end of the 16th century, Italy had absorbed the northern musical influences with Venice, Rome, and other cities becoming centers of musical activity. This reversed the situation from a hundred years earlier. Opera, a dramatic staged genre in which singers are accompanied by instruments, arose at this time in Florence. Opera was developed as a deliberate attempt to resurrect the music of ancient Greece.
Principal liturgical (church-based) musical forms, which remained in use throughout the Renaissance period, were masses and motets, with some other developments towards the end of the era, especially as composers of sacred music began to adopt secular (non-religious) musical forms (such as the madrigal) for religious use. The 15th and 16th century masses had two kinds of sources that were used: monophonic (a single melody line) and polyphonic (multiple, independent melodic lines), with two main forms of elaboration, based on cantus firmus practice or, beginning some time around 1500, the new style of "pervasive imitation", in which composers would write music in which the different voices or parts would imitate the melodic and/or rhythmic motifs performed by other voices or parts. Several main types of masses were used:
Masses were normally titled by the source from which they borrowed. Cantus firmus mass uses the same monophonic melody, usually drawn from chant and usually in the tenor and most often in longer note values than the other voices.Other sacred genres were the madrigale spirituale and the laude.
During the period, secular (non-religious) music had an increasing distribution, with a wide variety of forms, but one must be cautious about assuming an explosion in variety: since printing made music more widely available, much more has survived from this era than from the preceding Medieval era, and probably a rich store of popular music of the late Middle Ages is lost. Secular music was music that was independent of churches. The main types were the German Lied, Italian frottola, the French chanson, the Italian madrigal, and the Spanish villancico.Other secular vocal genres included the caccia, rondeau, virelai, bergerette, ballade, musique mesurée, canzonetta, villanella, villotta, and the lute song. Mixed forms such as the motet-chanson and the secular motet also appeared.
Purely instrumental music included consort music for recorders or viols and other instruments, and dances for various ensembles. Common instrumental genres were the toccata, prelude, ricercar, and canzona. Dances played by instrumental ensembles (or sometimes sung) included the basse danse (It. bassadanza), tourdion, saltarello, pavane, galliard, allemande, courante, bransle, canarie, piva, and lavolta. Music of many genres could be arranged for a solo instrument such as the lute, vihuela, harp, or keyboard. Such arrangements were called intabulations (It. intavolatura, Ger. Intabulierung).
Towards the end of the period, the early dramatic precursors of opera such as monody, the madrigal comedy, and the intermedio are heard.
According to Margaret Bent: "Renaissance notation is under-prescriptive by our [modern] standards; when translated into modern form it acquires a prescriptive weight that overspecifies and distorts its original openness".Renaissance compositions were notated only in individual parts; scores were extremely rare, and barlines were not used. Note values were generally larger than are in use today; the primary unit of beat was the semibreve, or whole note. As had been the case since the Ars Nova (see Medieval music), there could be either two or three of these for each breve (a double-whole note), which may be looked on as equivalent to the modern "measure," though it was itself a note value and a measure is not. The situation can be considered this way: it is the same as the rule by which in modern music a quarter-note may equal either two eighth-notes or three, which would be written as a "triplet." By the same reckoning, there could be two or three of the next smallest note, the "minim," (equivalent to the modern "half note") to each semibreve.
These different permutations were called "perfect/imperfect tempus" at the level of the breve–semibreve relationship, "perfect/imperfect prolation" at the level of the semibreve–minim, and existed in all possible combinations with each other. Three-to-one was called "perfect," and two-to-one "imperfect." Rules existed also whereby single notes could be halved or doubled in value ("imperfected" or "altered," respectively) when preceded or followed by other certain notes. Notes with black noteheads (such as quarter notes) occurred less often. This development of white mensural notation may be a result of the increased use of paper (rather than vellum), as the weaker paper was less able to withstand the scratching required to fill in solid noteheads; notation of previous times, written on vellum, had been black. Other colors, and later, filled-in notes, were used routinely as well, mainly to enforce the aforementioned imperfections or alterations and to call for other temporary rhythmical changes.
Accidentals (e.g. added sharps, flats and naturals that change the notes) were not always specified, somewhat as in certain fingering notations for guitar-family instruments (tablatures) today. However, Renaissance musicians would have been highly trained in dyadic counterpoint and thus possessed this and other information necessary to read a score correctly, even if the accidentals were not written in. As such, "what modern notation requires [accidentals] would then have been perfectly apparent without notation to a singer versed in counterpoint." (See musica ficta.) A singer would interpret his or her part by figuring cadential formulas with other parts in mind, and when singing together, musicians would avoid parallel octaves and parallel fifths or alter their cadential parts in light of decisions by other musicians.It is through contemporary tablatures for various plucked instruments that we have gained much information about which accidentals were performed by the original practitioners.
For information on specific theorists, see Johannes Tinctoris, Franchinus Gaffurius, Heinrich Glarean, Pietro Aron, Nicola Vicentino, Tomás de Santa María, Gioseffo Zarlino, Vicente Lusitano, Vincenzo Galilei, Giovanni Artusi, Johannes Nucius, and Pietro Cerone.
The key composers from the early Renaissance era also wrote in a late Medieval style, and as such, they are transitional figures. Leonel Power (c. 1370s or 1380s–1445) was an English composer of the late medieval and early Renaissance music eras. Along with John Dunstaple, he was one of the major figures in English music in the early 15th century.) Power is the composer best represented in the Old Hall Manuscript, one of the only undamaged sources of English music from the early 15th century. Power was one of the first composers to set separate movements of the ordinary of the mass which were thematically unified and intended for contiguous performance. The Old Hall Manuscript contains his mass based on the Marian antiphon, Alma Redemptoris Mater, in which the antiphon is stated literally in the tenor voice in each movement, without melodic ornaments. This is the only cyclic setting of the mass ordinary which can be attributed to him. He wrote mass cycles, fragments, and single movements and a variety of other sacred works.
John Dunstaple (or Dunstable) (c. 1390–1453) was an English composer of polyphonic music of the late medieval era and early Renaissance periods. He was one of the most famous composers active in the early 15th century, a near-contemporary of Power, and was widely influential, not only in England but on the continent, especially in the developing style of the Burgundian School. Dunstaple's influence on the continent's musical vocabulary was enormous, particularly considering the relative paucity of his (attributable) works. He was recognized for possessing something never heard before in music of the Burgundian School: la contenance angloise ("the English countenance"), a term used by the poet Martin le Franc in his Le Champion des Dames. Le Franc added that the style influenced Dufay and Binchois. Writing a few decades later in about 1476, the Flemish composer and music theorist Tinctoris reaffirmed the powerful influence Dunstaple had, stressing the "new art" that Dunstaple had inspired. Tinctoris hailed Dunstaple as the fons et origo of the style, its "wellspring and origin."[ This quote needs a citation ]
The contenance angloise, while not defined by Martin le Franc, was probably a reference to Dunstaple's stylistic trait of using full triadic harmony (three note chords), along with a liking for the interval of the third. Assuming that he had been on the continent with the Duke of Bedford, Dunstaple would have been introduced to French fauxbourdon ; borrowing some of the sonorities, he created elegant harmonies in his own music using thirds and sixths (an example of a third interval is the notes C and E; an example of a sixth interval is the notes C and A). Taken together, these are seen as defining characteristics of early Renaissance music. Many of these traits may have originated in England, taking root in the Burgundian School around the middle of the century.
Because numerous copies of Dunstaple's works have been found in Italian and German manuscripts, his fame across Europe must have been widespread. Of the works attributed to him only about fifty survive, among which are two complete masses, three connected mass sections, fourteen individual mass sections, twelve complete isorhythmic motets and seven settings of Marian antiphons, such as Alma redemptoris Mater and Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae . Dunstaple was one of the first to compose masses using a single melody as cantus firmus. A good example of this technique is his Missa Rex seculorum. He is believed to have written secular (non-religious) music, but no songs in the vernacular can be attributed to him with any degree of certainty.
Oswald von Wolkenstein (c. 1376–1445) is one of the most important composers of the early German Renaissance. He is best known for his well-written melodies, and for his use of three themes: travel, God and sex.
Gilles Binchois (c. 1400–1460) was a Dutch composer, one of the earliest members of the Burgundian school and one of the three most famous composers of the early 15th century. While often ranked behind his contemporaries Guillaume Dufay and John Dunstaple by contemporary scholars, his works were still cited, borrowed and used as source material after his death. Binchois is considered[ by whom? ] to be a fine melodist, writing carefully shaped lines which are easy to sing and memorable. His tunes appeared in copies decades after his death and were often used as sources for mass composition by later composers. Most of his music, even his sacred music, is simple and clear in outline, sometimes even ascetic (monk-like). A greater contrast between Binchois and the extreme complexity of the ars subtilior of the prior (fourteenth) century would be hard to imagine. Most of his secular songs are rondeaux, which became the most common song form during the century. He rarely wrote in strophic form, and his melodies are generally independent of the rhyme scheme of the verses they are set to. Binchois wrote music for the court, secular songs of love and chivalry that met the expectations and satisfied the taste of the Dukes of Burgundy who employed him, and evidently loved his music accordingly. About half of his extant secular music is found in the Oxford Bodleian Library.
Guillaume Du Fay (c. 1397–1474) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the early Renaissance. The central figure in the Burgundian School, he was regarded by his contemporaries as the leading composer in Europe in the mid-15th century. [ citation needed ] Seven complete masses, 28 individual mass movements, 15 settings of chant used in mass propers, three Magnificats, two Benedicamus Domino settings, 15 antiphon settings (six of them Marian antiphons), 27 hymns, 22 motets (13 of these isorhythmic in the more angular, austere 14th-century style which gave way to more melodic, sensuous treble-dominated part-writing with phrases ending in the "under-third" cadence in Du Fay's youth) and 87 chansons definitely by him have survived.[ citation needed ]Du Fay composed in most of the common forms of the day, including masses, motets, Magnificats, hymns, simple chant settings in fauxbourdon, and antiphons within the area of sacred music, and rondeaux, ballades, virelais and a few other chanson types within the realm of secular music. None of his surviving music is specifically instrumental, although instruments were certainly used for some of his secular music, especially for the lower parts; all of his sacred music is vocal. Instruments may have been used to reinforce the voices in actual performance for almost any of his works.
Many of Du Fay's compositions were simple settings of chant, obviously designed for liturgical use, probably as substitutes for the unadorned chant, and can be seen as chant harmonizations. Often the harmonization used a technique of parallel writing known as fauxbourdon, as in the following example, a setting of the Marian antiphon Ave maris stella . Du Fay may have been the first composer to use the term "fauxbourdon" for this simpler compositional style, prominent in 15th-century liturgical music in general and that of the Burgundian school in particular. Most of Du Fay's secular (non-religious) songs follow the formes fixes (rondeau, ballade, and virelai), which dominated secular European music of the 14th and 15th centuries. He also wrote a handful of Italian ballate, almost certainly while he was in Italy. As is the case with his motets, many of the songs were written for specific occasions, and many are datable, thus supplying useful biographical information. Most of his songs are for three voices, using a texture dominated by the highest voice; the other two voices, unsupplied with text, were probably played by instruments.[ citation needed ]
Du Fay was one of the last composers to make use of late-medieval polyphonic structural techniques such as isorhythm, [ citation needed ]and one of the first to employ the more mellifluous harmonies, phrasing and melodies characteristic of the early Renaissance. His compositions within the larger genres (masses, motets and chansons) are mostly similar to each other; his renown is largely due to what was perceived as his perfect control of the forms in which he worked, as well as his gift for memorable and singable melody. During the 15th century, he was universally regarded as the greatest composer of his time, an opinion that has largely survived to the present day.
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During the 16th century, Josquin des Prez (c. 1450/1455 – 27 August 1521) gradually acquired the reputation as the greatest composer of the age, his mastery of technique and expression universally imitated and admired. Writers as diverse as Baldassare Castiglione and Martin Luther wrote about his reputation and fame.
In Venice, from about 1530 until around 1600, an impressive polychoral style developed, which gave Europe some of the grandest, most sonorous music composed up until that time, with multiple choirs of singers, brass and strings in different spatial locations in the Basilica San Marco di Venezia (see Venetian School). These multiple revolutions spread over Europe in the next several decades, beginning in Germany and then moving to Spain, France, and England somewhat later, demarcating the beginning of what we now know as the Baroque musical era.
The Roman School was a group of composers of predominantly church music in Rome, spanning the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Many of the composers had a direct connection to the Vatican and the papal chapel, though they worked at several churches; stylistically they are often contrasted with the Venetian School of composers, a concurrent movement which was much more progressive. By far the most famous composer of the Roman School is Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. While best known as a prolific composer of masses and motets, he was also an important madrigalist. His ability to bring together the functional needs of the Catholic Church with the prevailing musical styles during the Counter-Reformation period gave him his enduring fame.
The brief but intense flowering of the musical madrigal in England, mostly from 1588 to 1627, along with the composers who produced them, is known as the English Madrigal School. The English madrigals were a cappella, predominantly light in style, and generally began as either copies or direct translations of Italian models. Most were for three to six voices.
Musica reservata is either a style or a performance practice in a cappella vocal music of the latter half of the 16th century, mainly in Italy and southern Germany, involving refinement, exclusivity, and intense emotional expression of sung text.[ citation needed ]
The cultivation of European music in the Americas began in the 16th century soon after the arrival of the Spanish, and the conquest of Mexico. Although fashioned in European style, uniquely Mexican hybrid works based on native Mexican language and European musical practice appeared very early. Musical practices in New Spain continually coincided with European tendencies throughout the subsequent Baroque and Classical music periods. Among these New World composers were Hernando Franco, Antonio de Salazar, and Manuel de Zumaya.[ citation needed ]
In addition, writers since 1932 have observed what they call a seconda prattica (an innovative practice involving monodic style and freedom in treatment of dissonance, both justified by the expressive setting of texts) during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
In the late 16th century, as the Renaissance era closed, an extremely manneristic style developed. In secular music, especially in the madrigal, there was a trend towards complexity and even extreme chromaticism (as exemplified in madrigals of Luzzaschi, Marenzio, and Gesualdo). The term mannerism derives from art history.
Beginning in Florence, there was an attempt to revive the dramatic and musical forms of Ancient Greece, through the means of monody, a form of declaimed music over a simple accompaniment; a more extreme contrast with the preceding polyphonic style would be hard to find; this was also, at least at the outset, a secular trend. These musicians were known as the Florentine Camerata.
We have already noted some of the musical developments that helped to usher in the Baroque, but for further explanation of this transition, see antiphon, concertato, monody, madrigal, and opera, as well as the works given under "Sources and further reading."
Many instruments originated during the Renaissance; others were variations of, or improvements upon, instruments that had existed previously. Some have survived to the present day; others have disappeared, only to be recreated in order to perform music of the period on authentic instruments. As in the modern day, instruments may be classified as brass, strings, percussion, and woodwind.
Medieval instruments in Europe had most commonly been used singly, often self-accompanied with a drone, or occasionally in parts. From at least as early as the 13th century through the 15th century there was a division of instruments into haut (loud, shrill, outdoor instruments) and bas (quieter, more intimate instruments).Only two groups of instruments could play freely in both types of ensembles: the cornett and sackbut, and the tabor and tambourine.
At the beginning of the 16th century, instruments were considered to be less important than voices. They were used for dances and to accompany vocal music.Instrumental music remained subordinated to vocal music, and much of its repertory was in varying ways derived from or dependent on vocal models.
Various kinds of organs were commonly used in the Renaissance, from large church organs to small portatives and reed organs called regals.
Brass instruments in the Renaissance were traditionally played by professionals. Some of the more common brass instruments that were played:
As a family, strings were used in many circumstances, both sacred and secular. A few members of this family include:
Some Renaissance percussion instruments include the triangle, the Jew's harp, the tambourine, the bells, cymbala, the rumble-pot, and various kinds of drums.
Woodwind instruments (aerophones) produce sound by means of a vibrating column of air within the pipe. Holes along the pipe allow the player to control the length of the column of air, and hence the pitch. There are several ways of making the air column vibrate, and these ways define the subcategories of woodwind instruments. A player may blow across a mouth hole, as in a flute; into a mouthpiece with a single reed, as in a modern-day clarinet or saxophone; or a double reed, as in an oboe or bassoon. All three of these methods of tone production can be found in Renaissance instruments.
Medieval music encompasses the sacred and secular music of Western Europe during the Middle Ages, from approximately the 6th to 15th centuries. It is the first and longest major era of Western classical music and followed by the Renaissance music; the two eras comprise what musicologists generally term as early music, preceding the common practice period. Following the traditional division of the Middle Ages, medieval music can be divided into Early (500–1150), High (1000–1300), and Late (1300–1400) medieval music.
In Western classical music, a motet is mainly a vocal musical composition, of highly diverse form and style, from high medieval music to the present. The motet was one of the pre-eminent polyphonic forms of Renaissance music. According to Margaret Bent, "a piece of music in several parts with words" is as precise a definition of the motet as will serve from the 13th to the late 16th century and beyond. The late 13th-century theorist Johannes de Grocheo believed that the motet was "not to be celebrated in the presence of common people, because they do not notice its subtlety, nor are they delighted in hearing it, but in the presence of the educated and of those who are seeking out subtleties in the arts".
A choir is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform. Choirs may perform music from the classical music repertoire, which spans from the medieval era to the present, or popular music repertoire. Most choirs are led by a conductor, who leads the performances with arm, hand, and facial gestures.
Josquin des Prez was a French composer of High Renaissance music. A central figure of the Franco-Flemish School, Josquin is considered among the greatest composers of the Renaissance and had a profound influence on the music of 16th-century Europe. He built on the work of his predecessors Du Fay and Binchois, and his elder contemporaries Ockeghem and Busnois, to develop a complex style of expressive—and often imitative—polyphony which informs much of his work. In addition, he pioneered the development of word painting and gradually departed from the early Renaissance emphasis on melismatic lines, preferring to use shorter, repeated motifs between voices. A singer himself, Josquin's compositions are chiefly vocal, including masses, motets and a variety of secular chansons. His better-known compositions include the masses Missa Pange lingua, Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae, Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales and Missa L'homme armé sexti toni; the motets Ave Maria ... Virgo serena, Inviolata, integra et casta es Maria and Miserere mei, Deus; as well as the chanson Adieu mes amours, the frottola-inspired El Grillo and Nymphes des bois, a lament for Ockeghem.
Orlande de Lassus was a composer of the late Renaissance. The chief representative of the mature polyphonic style in the Franco-Flemish school, Lassus stands with Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Tomás Luis de Victoria as the leading composers of the later Renaissance. Immensely prolific, his music varies considerably in style and genres, which gave him unprecedented popularity throughout Europe.
Guillaume Du Fay was a French composer and music theorist of the early Renaissance. Regarded as the leading European composer by his contemporaries, his music was widely performed and copied. Du Fay held various music positions during his lifetime, and was associated with the Burgundian School as well as among the first composers of, or at least a predecessor to, the Franco-Flemish School.
John Dunstaple was an English composer whose music spans the transition from the medieval to the Renaissance periods. The central proponent of the Contenance angloise style, Dunstaple was the leading English composer of his time, and is often coupled with William Byrd and Henry Purcell as England's most important early music composers. His surviving music is exclusively vocal, and frequently uses isorhythms, while pioneering the prominent use of harmonies with thirds and sixths. His style would have an immense influence on the subsequent music of continental Europe, inspiring composers such as Du Fay, Binchois, Ockeghem and Busnois.
Adrian Willaert was a Flemish composer of the Renaissance and founder of the Venetian School. He was one of the most representative members of the generation of northern composers who moved to Italy and transplanted the polyphonic Franco-Flemish style there.
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition of the Renaissance and early Baroque (1600–1750) eras. The polyphonic madrigal is unaccompanied, and the number of voices varies from two to eight, but usually features three to six voices, whilst the metre of the madrigal varies between two or three tercets, followed by one or two couplets. Unlike the verse-repeating strophic forms sung to the same music, most madrigals are through-composed, featuring different music for each stanza of lyrics, whereby the composer expresses the emotions contained in each line and in single words of the poem being sung.
A chanson is generally any lyric-driven French song, though it most often refers to the secular polyphonic French song of late medieval and Renaissance music. The genre had origins in the monophonic songs of troubadours and trouvères, though the only polyphonic precedents were 16 works by Adam de la Halle and one by Jehan de Lescurel. Not until the ars nova composer Guillaume de Machaut did any composer write a significant number of polyphonic chansons.
Jacques Arcadelt was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music. Although he also wrote sacred vocal music, he was one of the most famous of the early composers of madrigals; his first book of madrigals, published within a decade of the appearance of the earliest examples of the form, was the most widely printed collection of madrigals of the entire era. In addition to his work as a madrigalist, and distinguishing him from the other prominent early composers of madrigals – Philippe Verdelot and Costanzo Festa – he was equally prolific and adept at composing chansons, particularly late in his career when he lived in Paris.
The Burgundian School was a group of composers active in the 15th century in what is now northern and eastern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, centered on the court of the Dukes of Burgundy. The school inaugurated the music of Burgundy.
Giovanni Francesco Anerio was an Italian composer of the Roman School, of the very late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He was the younger brother of Felice Anerio. Giovanni's principal importance in music history was his contribution to the early development of the oratorio; he represented the progressive trend within the otherwise conservative Roman School, though he also shared some of the stylistic tendencies of his brother, who was much indebted to Palestrina.
France has a rich music history that was already prominent in Europe as far back as the 10th century. French music originated as a unified style in medieval times, focusing around the Notre-Dame school of composers. This group developed the motet, a specific musical composition. Notable in the high Middle Ages were the troubadours and trouvères soon began touring France, composing and performing many original songs. The styles of ars nova and ars subtilior sprung up in the 14th century, both of which focused on secular songs. As Europe moved into the Renaissance age, the music of France evolved in sophistication. The popularity of French music in the rest of Europe declined slightly, yet the popular chanson and the old motet were further developed during this time. The epicenter of French music moved from Paris to Burgundy, as it followed the Burgundian School of composers. During the Baroque period, music was simplified and restricted due to Calvinist influence. The air de cour then became the primary style of French music, as it was secular and preferred by the royal court.
Jacobus Vaet was a Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was a representative of the generation between Josquin and Palestrina, writing smooth polyphony with pervasive imitation, and he was a friend both of Clemens non Papa and Lassus.
The Trecento was a period of vigorous activity in Italy in the arts, including painting, architecture, literature, and music. The music of the Trecento paralleled the achievements in the other arts in many ways, for example, in pioneering new forms of expression, especially in secular song in the vernacular language, Italian. In these regards, the music of the Trecento may seem more to be a Renaissance phenomenon; however, the predominant musical language was more closely related to that of the late Middle Ages, and musicologists generally classify the Trecento as the end of the medieval era. Trecento means "three hundred" in Italian but is usually used to refer to the 1300s. However, the greatest flowering of music in the Trecento happened late in the century, and the period is usually extended to include music up to around 1420.
The Missa Caput was a musical setting of the Roman Catholic mass, dating from the 1440s, by an anonymous English composer. It circulated widely on the European continent in the mid-15th century and was one of the best-loved musical works of the early Renaissance in Europe, judging by the number of copies that have survived, and the number of imitations it inspired. It was influential both for its use of a tenor cantus firmus which unified all the movements and for being the first extended composition with a freely composed bass line, a feature with extraordinary ramifications in music history. Among the many composers influenced by it are Guillaume Du Fay and Johannes Ockeghem.
Giovanni Priuli was an Italian composer and organist of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. A late member of the Venetian School, and a contemporary of Claudio Monteverdi, he was a prominent musician in Venice in the first decade of the 17th century, departing after the death of his associate Giovanni Gabrieli and ending his career at the Habsburg court in Austria. His music straddled the dividing-line between Renaissance and Baroque idioms.
Early music of Britain and Ireland, from the earliest recorded times until the beginnings of the Baroque in the 17th century, was a diverse and rich culture, including sacred and secular music and ranging from the popular to the elite. Each of the major nations of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales retained unique forms of music and of instrumentation, but British music was highly influenced by continental developments, while British composers made an important contribution to many of the major movements in early music in Europe, including the polyphony of the Ars Nova and laid some of the foundations of later national and international classical music. Musicians from the British Isles also developed some distinctive forms of music, including Celtic chant, the Contenance Angloise, the rota, polyphonic votive antiphons, and the carol in the medieval era and English madrigals, lute ayres, and masques in the Renaissance era, which would lead to the development of English language opera at the height of the Baroque in the 18th century.
Music in Medieval England, from the end of Roman rule in the fifth century until the Reformation in the sixteenth century, was a diverse and rich culture, including sacred and secular music and ranging from the popular to the elite.
Leonel Power (c. 1375–1445) was one of the two leading composers of English music between 1410 and 1445. The other was John Dunstaple.