Renaissance music is European classical music written during the Renaissance, approximately 1400 to 1600. Defining the beginning of the era is difficult, given the lack of abrupt shifts in musical thinking during the 15th century. Additionally, the process by which music acquired "Renaissance" characteristics was a gradual one, but 1400 is used here.
Style and trends
The increasing reliance on the interval of the third as a consonance is one of the most pronounced features of early Renaissance European art music (in the Middle Ages, thirds had been considered dissonances: see interval). Polyphony, in use since the 12th century, became increasingly elaborate with highly independent voices throughout the 14th century: the beginning of the 15th century showed simplification, with the voices often striving for smoothness. 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.
The modal (as opposed to tonal) characteristics of Renaissance music began to break down towards the end of the period with the increased use of root motions of fifths. This has since developed into one of the defining characteristics of tonality.
Principal liturgical forms which endured throughout the entire Renaissance period were masses and motets, with some other developments towards the end, especially as composers of sacred music began to adopt secular forms (such as the madrigal) for their own designs.
Common sacred genres were the mass, the motet, the madrigale spirituale, and the laude.
During the period, secular music had an increasingly wide 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 irretrievably lost. Secular music included songs for one or many voices, forms such as the frottola, chanson and madrigal.
Secular vocal genres included the madrigal, the frottola, the caccia, the chanson in several forms (rondeau, virelai, bergerette, ballade, musique mesurée), the canzonetta, the villancico, the villanella, the 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 recorder or viol and other instruments, and dances for various ensembles. Common genres were the toccata, the prelude, the ricercar, the canzona, and intabulation (intavolatura, intabulierung). Instrumental ensembles for dances might play a basse danse (or bassedanza), a pavane, a galliard, an allemande, or a courante. Towards the end of the period, the early dramatic precursors of opera such as monody, the madrigal comedy, and the intermedio are seen.
Much of this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Renaissance music".
- Bodleian Library, Oxford: Broadside Ballads Project
The Bodleian Library has unparalleled holdings of over 30,000 ballads in several major collections. The original printed materials range from the 16th- to the 20th-Century. The Broadside Ballads project makes the digitised copies of the sheets and ballads available to the research community.
- ChoralWiki, home of the Choral Public Domain Library
CPDL is one of the world's largest free sheet music sites. You can use CPDL to find scores, texts, translations, and information about composers, including Renaissance music composers.
- Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music
A leading resource for the study of medieval manuscripts. They present images and metadata for thousands of manuscripts, provide a home for scholarly resources and editions, undertake digital restoration of damaged manuscripts and documents, publish high-quality facsimiles, and offer expertise as consultants.
- Early Music - Classical Guitar Ensemble
Recordings of 2, 3, 4 and 5-part songs and instrumental selections from the 14th - 17th Centuries.
- Early Music Online
The Early Music Online project has digitised 300 of the world’s earliest surviving volumes of printed music, using copies in the British Library, and has made these freely available online.
- Early Music,Medieval, Renaissance Music History
A guide to early music: medieval & renaissance music history. This guide is intended to provide the user with a selective list of reference tools for research into the history of medieval and renaissance music.
- A Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments
Musica Antiqua's illustrated guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments. Contains pictures, descriptions, and the history of the instruments used in playing early music.
- The Internet Renaissance Band
Midi files of music from the Medieval and Renaissance periods, and ancient carols.
- Medieval And Renaissance Instruments
Comprehensive coverage on some of the more common musical instruments during the Renaissance period with in-depth/informative links.
- Renaissance Sheet Music
A comprehensive list of free sheet music by Renaissance composers.
Liturgical music & hymnology:
- Thesaurus Precum Latinarum
Treasury of Latin Prayers (with translations), compiled by Michael W. Martin.
- Internet theology resources
liturgical studies and liturgical Music. Links provided by the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University.
- Locations for research in hymnology
- Christian Classics Ethereal Library
(CCEL): Christian texts (including some hymns and liturgical texts) in
electronic form, from the writings of the Early Church fathers through to the
- Renaissance Liturgical
Imprints (RELICS): A Census: information on worship books printed before
1601, maintained at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Walker, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (New York, 1847 rev.
Online, searchable, in facsimile.
- The Catholic Encyclopedia
- The Catholic Liturgical Library
- The Cyber Hymnal
"Over 2,300 Christian hymns and Gospel songs from many denominations".
- The Harmonia Sacra Handbook
documentation concerning the 25th edition of The Harmonia Sacra
- The Hymn Tune Index.
A comprehensive index of hymns and hymnals.
- A Selection of Renaissance Music
- The Sixteenth Century
Introduction and information to Renaissance Sacred Music.
- The Medieval Latin Hymn by Ruth Ellis Messenger
The purpose of this volume is to trace the history of the medieval Latin hymn from the point of view of usage. Online book that's a part of Project Gutenberg.
- The Renaissance & Baroque Society of Pittsburgh
Web site of Pittsburgh's Early Music Presenters bringing the best early music performers to Pittsburgh from all over the world to perform the music of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, and Early Classical periods.
- The Renaissance Period Composers
Lists the composers of the Renaissance Period and their biographies.
- Sacred Renaissance Music
Gives a detailed discription of Renaissance Period sacred music. It offers an .mp3 library, composer links, and turtorials.
- A Selection of Renaissance Music
A significant source of renaissance repertoire.
- A Singer's Guide to Early Music
A bibliography is intended for the singer who is interested in medieval and Renaissance music, but does not have an extensive background in music history or theory.
- Sixteenth-Century Ballads
by Greg Lindahl (Charlottesville, Virginia).