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Renaissance Music

It should be pretty obvious that music written during the Renaissance era falls under the broad category of Renaissance music. Since there is no exact beginning or exact ending of the Renaissance era some music considered as Renaissance music by some will not be considered by others. Try here if you are trying to listen to some Renaissance Music.


The general consensus (see above) is that Renaissance music starts in the early 1400’s and ends sometime around the end of the 1500’s or the beginning of the 1600’s. The popular Baroque music style did not begin until nearly 100 years after the beginning of the Renaissance.

The rise of Humanism during the Renaissance was reflected in many aspects of life during that time and music was one of those affected areas. A lot of factors seem to have influenced the music of the time. Primarily is the Humanism was a big influence. As people learned more about their ancestry and of the heritage of Rome and Greece there was a sort of common bond beginning to be felt in society. Industries were growing rapidly which put more people in society’s middle class (also known as the bourgeois class). Religion continued to be a major factor in Renaissance life. The Catholic Church during the Renaissance remained influential and the Protestant Reformation was also a factor in people’s lives.

As the middle class grew, people became more interested in music as entertainment. Fortunately, the availability of music and musical theory was more prevalent because of the invention of the printing press (Gutenberg). The arguably biggest change was the increased popularity of what is now known as polyphony. With Polyphony the musical groups became larger. With more instruments, there was a demand that the instruments blend together and sometimes enhance the listening pleasure of the vocals as well as the individual instruments.

With the invention of the Gutenberg press, it was easier to get musical theory as well as things like chansons and motets to more people. A chanson generally refers to a lyric-driven French song. They are usually polyphonic and secular as well. Male chanson singers were referred to as a “chanteur” and a female chanson singer was called a “chanteuse”. When a larger collection of chanson singers got together they were referred to as chansonnier.

The word Motet first came into use in the 14th century and is derived from Middle French. A motet is a polyphonic choral composition on a sacred text. In most cases, motets are performed without any musical accompaniment.

Polyphonic practices eventually progressed into a fluid style of music and was most popular in the second half of the sixteenth century. Popular composers like Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria, and Byrd all used the polyphonic style.

Churches were a popular way to experience the Polyphonic style of music and greatly expanded the new music style. Singers and composers became popular and were highly sought after throughout Europe. With Italy being an extremely popular place for the composers and singers. These new polyphonic composers and singers were hired in particular by churches. The popularity spread and eventually large cities like Venice became centers for the new style of music. A sort of backlash against the polyphonic style was when the popularity of opera began increasing, especially in Florence, and is considered an attempt to resurrect the music of ancient Greece.

Secular music meshed with religious music and religious music meshed with secular music. Music started to become a way of personal expression. The old ways of writing and singing music gave way to a more expressive way of music with fewer constraints on things like range, form, rhythm, and harmony.

Chansons (see definition above) and madrigals began their spread throughout Europe. A madrigal is a secular, non-religious music composition. Traditionally madrigals are vocals only with no instrumental accompaniment.

Not only did the music style change but new types of musical instruments were invented too. The violin and guitar were developed during this time. The new sounds of new instruments gave composers more latitude in the music writing. The brass section as we know it today also came into being during this time (bassoon and trombone).

In music, a triad is a set of three notes that can be stacked in thirds. The term “harmonic triad” was coined by Johannes Lippius in his “Synopsis musicae novae” in 1612. (1612). The sound of full triads became more and more common. Religious music lost much of its influence as the music changed. The breakdown of the ‘church music’ gave way to the new musical expression that was popular for the next three hundred years.

Music became more diverse and expressive during the Renaissance. Today you can easily find secular and religious compositions from that era.

A touch of “Swan Song” and a dash of “The Stand”…Very good post-apocalyptic tale in the mode and mood of R. McCammon’s “Swan Song” and S. King’s “The Stand”. ★★★★★

Excerpt from Troop of Shadows:

Colleyville, Texas

Dani cursed the weight of her backpack. The final two items from the ransacked Walgreens, crammed in as an afterthought ten minutes ago, might cost her everything. After surviving the last twelve months of hell only to be thwarted now by a can of Similac and a twelve-pack of Zest soap, would be sadly anticlimactic. Despite running at a full sprint down a dark suburban street, dodging overflowing garbage cans while eluding three men who would steal her hard-won tubes of Neosporin and likely rape and kill her in the process, she snorted at the thought of a fictional headline: Young Woman’s Life Ends Tragically but Zestfully Clean.

Damn it, she would ditch the backpack. She could come back tomorrow night for it, but right now staying alive outweighed any future benefit its contents might provide. As her pursuers rounded the corner behind her, she darted across the front lawn of a house and leaped over a cluster of dead juniper shrubs. A year ago, those shrubs had been green, manicured, and providing curb appeal to the upscale neighborhood; they functioned now as a hurdle component in the obstacle course Dani navigated on most nights.

She angled toward the side of the house and around the corner, only to come to an abrupt stop next to a six-foot barricade. Residents of these sprawling bedroom communities situated between Dallas and Fort Worth clung to their privacy fences as fiercely as their rural counterparts did to their firearms. Why all those day-trading dads and cheerleader moms required such secrecy was beyond Dani. She didn’t care. All that mattered was how difficult they made her nightly forages. Only idiots or people with a death wish traveled alone on the streets anymore. The clever ones navigated through backyards and drainage ditches, shadowed easements and alleyway, avoiding open spaces and other humans.

Especially humans traveling in groups.

Stealth and caution were second nature to her now, and she was pissed at herself for loading up the backpack with more weight than she could easily carry at a full run.

Rookie mistake.

She flung the pack into the undergrowth of a once meticulous garden, making a mental note of the enormous red tip photinia which camouflaged the bundle in a leafy shroud. She hoped to be alive the next day to retrieve it.

She clambered up the fence, finding a toehold on a warped plank, and squirmed over the top. A silver fingernail of a moon did little to illuminate the backyard. Weak starlight reflected off the inky surface of a half-empty, kidney-shaped swimming pool. Her Nikes gripped the concrete deck as she skirted the murky water and made a beeline for the back of the yard that was, of course, separated from its neighbor by a privacy fence. It was a tall one too — a full ten feet. There were no bushes or trees to use for leverage either. She scanned the area for anything that might serve as a step ladder.

Of all the yards she could have chosen for her escape, she’d picked one with a damn ten-foot fence.

Her heart raced from the sprint, but not from panic. Gone was the young woman from a year ago, the full-time floundering college dropout and part-time surly Starbucks barista who spent too much time reading books and not enough time looking for a job that would allow her to move out of her parents’ house. She was too smart for her own good, everyone had told her. She should have taken that secretarial position in North Dallas, but she would have lost her sanity in that environment. The tedious filing, the ringing phones, the office politics — in other words, hell on earth for a girl with an IQ over a hundred and fifty.

Despite the recent horrors, she’d come into her own at last, after twenty-one years of meandering through life unfocused and unchallenged. The extra twenty pounds she’d been carrying courtesy of Freddy’s cheeseburgers and Taco Bell burritos were gone, thanks to her newfound self-discipline and endless hours of Krav Maga training with Sam. Not only had she transformed her body, she’d elevated and strengthened her mind as well. Before the power had gone out, she’d watched countless tutorials on T’ai Chi, Qigong, and Buddhist meditation. During that same window — when people were beginning to get sick, but before most of them had died — she’d combed book stores and libraries within a fifteen-mile radius. When the country went dark and people realized that life-saving information was no longer available with a few keystrokes, Dani had amassed reference material on subjects as diverse as hydroponics and combat first aid, ancient meat drying techniques and bomb making. Between martial arts lessons with Sam, she spent every spare minute absorbing the printed esoteric knowledge like a greedy lizard on a sun-drenched rock.

Knowledge was survival.

When the first of the men slithered over the fence into the backyard, she hadn’t found anything to use as a foothold. Another figure followed behind him. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and released it from her lungs, slow and measured, then took off at a full run toward them. While she ran, fingers slid down to a leather sheath secured to her belt. Two seconds before she reached the first of her would-be assailants, a Ka-Bar — the grandaddy of tactical knives — was in her hand.

Dani used momentum and every ounce of her one-hundred-twenty pound frame to slam the first man into the second, knocking both assailants off-balance and unprepared for her next move: a vicious stab to the groin of the first. He collapsed to his knees. She followed with a backhand movement, opening up the throat of his companion. A similar gesture to the man with the injured groin silenced his moaning.

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