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The Renaissance
Renaissance Music by 1425
Mensural (Measured) Notation had
reached the point of using dots, flags,
white and colored notes
Consonance vs. Dissonance
Consonance: What sounds good
 Dissonance: What sounds bad
 3rds and 6ths added to the list of
consonant sounds (Perfect 4th, 5th, 8ve)
Renaissance Music
Johannes Tinctoris
Renaissance Music Theorist and Composer
 Pythagoras-Antiquity
 Boethius-Medieval
Believed in what sounded good to the ear
“[T]he pleasure of the ear is derived…then, not
by heavenly bodies, but by earthly instruments
with the cooperation of nature.”-1477 Book on
the Art of Counterpoint
Renaissance Music
Johannes Tinctoris
Tinctoris wrote that the musical
Renaissance began in England and moved
to France
 John
Dunstable (1390-1453)-English used
interval of thirds—Triads
 Guillaume du Fay (1400-1474)-Belgium-Italy
 Johannes Ockegham (1420-1496)-France
(among others)
Renaissance Music
Texture-homogeneous texture (same part, different
time, forms vertical structure)-polyphonic—employs
uses of pervading imitation
Rhythm-Flowing, less strong downbeats (specifically
vocal)—tactus (steady pulse) governs work
Melody-usually newly composed-lyrical
Harmony-3rds, 6ths added to 4ths, 5ths, 8ves
Compositional Buzz Words-cantus firmus, motet,
chanson, frotolla, cyclic Mass
Renaissance Music
John Dunstable
English Composer given credit for being
among the first to use new harmonies
 Qulam
pulchra es (“How Fair You Are”) c.1430
 Motet (polyphonic religious work)
 Uses consonant sounds, moving chordally,
hymn-like (strophic)
 Very few dissonant sounds used
Renaissance Music
Guillaume du Fay
Born in what is now Belgium, moved to Italy for
most of career (spent time in France) p.106-107
 Last well-known composer to write plainchant,
upon commission in 1457 (found in 1988)
Renaissance Music
Guillaume Du Fay
 Nuper
rosarum flores (“The Rose Blossoms”)
 Motet
 Written
for the consecration of the dome of the
cathedral in Florence March 25, 1436
 Sounds very similar (rhythmically) as middle ages,
harmonically (chordally) much different
 Uses cantus firmus-fixed melody (chant or melodic
line that music is written around)
 All parts singing the same thing, one moving faster
The Florence
Cathedral Dome
designed by Filippo Brunelleschi
Smaller inner shell helps support
the outer shell
Renaissance Music
Jousquin des Prez
Born in Belgium/France c1450-1521 and spent
most of life in either Italy or France p.108-9
 Ave
Maria…virgo serena (Hail the Serene Virgin
Mary) c. 1470-80 (page 108, 110, 111)
 Published in Petrucci’s First Book of Motets
 Uses not only normal Renaissance harmonies (triads3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 8ves) but…
 Pervading imitation…series of musical ideas
presented imitatively (echo)—replaces isorhythm
 The point that a new idea is presented is the “point of
Renaissance Music
Cyclic Mass
Liturgically Appropriate
No Unifying musical
concept throughout
Monophonic, Polyphonic
Only later instrumentally
Focus placed on musical
Based on single Cantus
Firmus (presented
throughout)—May or may
not be chant related
Usually accompanied
(organ, other instruments)
Renaissance Music
Guillaume Du Fay
♫2:9 (0:0-:34, 7:28-end)
Cyclic Mass
 Missa Se la face ay pale (“Mass: If My
Face Is Pale”)-p.117
 First to be based on secular tune
(composed by Du Fay)
 Tenor no longer lowest voice—allowed
more harmonies (still fairly consonant)
Renaissance Music
Cantus Firmus
Generally applied in one of three ways:
Strict Technique: Cantus Firmus remains constantly
in one voice (usually tenor)
Ostinato Technique: Cantus Firmus repeats
constantly, always appearing in at least one voice
Free Technique: Cantus Firmus migrates from voice
to voice or may drop out completely
May be canonic: in the form of a canon…strict
imitation (parody) of original theme or altered
(augmentation, inversion, retrograde,
retrograde inversion)
Renaissance Music
The Motet
Religious Polyphonic Work—Prayer set to
Three types:
Liturgical—written within the liturgy of the Mass
Proper (usually Offertory texts)
2) Devotional—Non-liturgical services or gatherings
(including confraternities and Memorial
Services)—(Usually non-liturgical poetry)
3) Occasional—Commissioned for special
circumstances (Usually non-liturgical poetry or
Renaissance Music
The use of Musical Elements to imitate
the meaning of a specific passage of
Renaissance Music
Word-Painting Example
Musical Example: Absalon, fili mi (“Absalom, My
Son”) Josquin (possibly Pierre de la Rue)
In the Bible, a son of David who staged a revolt against his
father's kingship and was defeated and killed in the ensuing
His body was then taken down and cast into a pit dug in
the forest, and a heap of stones was raised over his
grave. When the tidings of the result of that battle were
brought to David, as he sat impatiently at the gate of
Mahanaim, and he was told that Absalom had been
slain, he gave way to the bitter lamentation: "O my son
Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had
died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Sam.
18:33. Comp. Ex. 32:32; Rom.9:3).
Renaissance Music
Word-Painting Example
 Written in lament of a lost son. Exact loss
unknown (p.126-127)
 Uses Word-Painting to symbolize the Depths of
Another example would be an ascending line while text is
saying ascending in to heaven or climbing a mountain.
The Renaissance
Secular Music
Secular (vocal) Music of The
Most music was still memorized,
improvised or embellished from what we
have—Fewer works are available than
sacred for this reason.
Renaissance Music
The Chanson (French: song)
Secular Polyphonic Work—Poem or Prose set to
Music (Secular Version of the Motet)
Instruments often replaced text (served same
melodic purpose)
Progressed much like the motet—from several
non-related lines to a unifying theme and mood
prevailing throughout AND more rhythmic
Chanson Examples
Du Fay
Adieu ces bons vins de Lannoys
(“Farewell These Good Wines of
 Ca 1425-1450
 Three melodic lines (superius, tenor and
contratenor) only superius is vocal—can
be vocal or instrumental.
Chanson Examples
Hayne van Ghizeghem
De tous biens plaine (“Of All Good Things”)
 Ca 1470
 Three melodic lines (superius, tenor and
contratenor) again, vocal or instrumental.
 More fluid melodic line
 Very popular—several arrangements survive
Chanson Examples
Heinrich Isaac
Helas, que devera mon coeur (“Alas, that my heart will
devour?”) p.130
Ca late 1480’s
Pervading Imitation
Paratactic structure-successive points of imitation
present new material—all voices are equal
Three-Voiced Rondeau (each strophe consists of eight
lines of text set to music following the rhyme scheme
ABaAabAB—Uppercase letters show Refrain that
remains constant strophe to strophe)
Renaissance Music
Italian version of the Chanson
Lighthearted and sarcastic rather than the courtly love
themes in chansons
Characterized by dance-like rhythms with syncopation
Highly published by Petrucci
Most for solo voice, lute or keyboard
Spread throughout Europe—did not remain just in Italy
Occasionally written in antiphonal style (moving back
and forth)
Frottola Musical Examples ♫2:19
Marchetto Cara (c. 1470-1525)
From Mantua, Italy
 Hor venduto ho la speranza (“I have just
sold hope”)
 Published in 1504 in Petrucci’s first book
of frottolle (plural)
Frottola Musical Examples
Josquin des Prez
El grillo (“The Cricket”)
 Antiphonal
 Only partially imitative
The Parisian Chanson
Claudin de Sermisy
Parisian Chanson, influenced by Frottola—
Lighter text. (Based in France)
Still Polyphonic, and homorhythmic (moving
Tant que vivray (“As Long As I Live”)-1528
Parisian Chanson began to become more
complicated, some using onomatopoeic
techniques (words that describe sounds “crash,
kaplooie, bang….’Batman’”)—Described subjects
such at War, Birds, Cries, Gossip
The Italian Madrigal
Developed in Italy
Similar to Frottola,
 More
rhythmic variation (contrapuntal)
 More “daring” harmonies (use of dissonance)
 Through-composed—Each line of text set to new
music (allowed for word-painting)
This is different than the madrigal encountered
in the Middle Ages
The Italian Madrigal
Music Examples-p.145
Jacob Arcadelt
 Il bianco e dolce cigno (“The White and Gentle
 Early Italian Madrigal
The Italian Madrigal
Musical Examples
Madalena Casulana (p.148-149)
 Morir non puo il mio cuore (“My Heart
Cannot Die”)-1566—p.147
 Among earliest published female
The Italian Madrigal
Musical Examples
Matona mia cara (“My Dear Lady”)-1581
 Orlando de Lassus (p.171)
 Considered an anti-madrigal from its lighthearted parody on the madrigal style
 Difficult to translate to English as it is
intentionally written as a German soldier
speaking broken Italian
Review of Secular Vocal Music of
the Renaissance
Call and Answer of musical genres (more
of variations on innovations):
 France:
Chanson (1450-1500)
 Italy: Frottola (1480s)
 France: Parisian Chanson (1520s)
 Italy: Madrigal (1530s)
Renaissance Music-Germany
Lied (“Song”) and Tenorlied (“Tenor
Song”)-Musical selection prominent in
Meistersingers (“Master Singers”)-Group
of singers, sophisticated
 Most famous, Hans Sachs
Renaissance Music-Germany
Musical example:
 Henrich
 Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen (“Innsbruck, I
Must Leave You”)
Renaissance Music-Spain
Villancico-Musical form of the Renaissance
 Similar to Italian Frottola
 Al amor quiero vencer (“I Want to Conquer
 Solo voice with vihuela (guitar-like)
 Specific directions for embellishment (do or
don’t or do what I say)
Renaissance Music-England
Italian Madrigal form moved to
England…English Madrigal
Thomas Morley (1557-1602)
Now is the Month of Maying (“Now is the Month
of Maying”)-1597
Renaissance Ballata (Ballet), Fa-La
Lighter side (English Madrigals included light
and more serious)
Renaissance Music-England
John Dowland (1563-1626)
 Known for Lute Song (strophic, notated for
lute and 1+ voices)
 Come, Heavy Sleep
 Serious side of English Renaissance
Again, To Review:
 France:
Chanson (1450-1500)
 Italy: Frottola (1480s)
 France: Parisian Chanson (1520s)
 Italy: Madrigal (1530s)
In their own right:
 Germany: Lied and Tenorlied (1500s)
 Spain: Villancico (Late 1400s)
 England: English Madrigal—Renaissance Ballet (FaLa) and Lute Song
The Renaissance
Sacred Music
Renaissance Music:
State of the Art
Up until the beginning of the Reformation,
there was one church, one (religious)
language and one liturgy
More churches (sects) began to form,
regional vernacular slipped in and the
liturgy was altered.
Music of the Reformation
Martin Luther, in addition to German Monk—
Lutenist, flutist, singer and composer (admired
works by Josquin des Prez)
 Some Protestant composers still used parts of
the traditional Roman Liturgy (i.e. Introits,
 Latin still used (some), vernacular used
 Communal Music important-CHORALESGerman term for hymn (strophe)
Music of the Reformation
All Protestants did not embrace music like
 Jean Calvin-Calvinists (later Presbyterian)
only allowed unaccompanied unison
singing of the Psalms (NO OTHER MUSIC)
 Ulrich Zwingli-NO MUSIC
 Luther comments: “I am not satisfied with
him who despises music, as all fanatics
do,…Music is a gift of God, not a gift of
The Chorale:
Meant to be sung by a congregation
 Began to be combined for “special” music
with form of tenorlied (polyphonic work set
around tenor melody)
Musical Examples
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (“A Mighty
Fortress is Our God”)-1551
 Johann Walter (Protestant Composer)
 Set using text that Martin Luther adapted
for his own hymn (that he composed) by
the same name
 Elaborated chorale
Musical Examples
Verily, Verily I Say Unto You
 Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) (Protestant
 Uses word-painting “I will raise Him up”
 Anthem-meant to be sung by choir
Musical Examples
Sing Joyfully Unto God
 William Byrd (1542-1623)-(Catholic
 Anthem
 6 voices
Music of the Counter-Reformation
Refer to earlier notes regarding Council of
Trent’s Stand on the place of music
 In addition: secular music was
discouraged as a model for sacred
compositions (motet)
Pierluigi da Palestrina
Missa Papae Marcelli (“Mass for Pope
 Polyphonic work—Accepted by the
Catholic church, as the TEXT does not get
lost from moving parts
 Palestrina considered poster-child for
Catholic compositions
The Renaissance
Instrumental and Dance Music
Instrumental Music
See Instrument Presentation