The composers there were not isolated from the rest

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1. Imitative vocal polyphony became the Renaissance ideal. The motet and the mass were still the most popular sacred genres, but new secular vocal forms began appearing. The sixteenth-century Italian madrigal and the French polyphonic chanson were the highest achievements. Eventually the English became aware of the Italian madrigal via Musica transalpina, a collection of madrigals published in 1588. The English transformed the madrigal into a lighter fare.

2. As polyphonic textures became more and more complex, and also because of polytextual settings, texts became harder and harder to understand. The focus therefore shifted to the music. This became a cause of concern within the church, where music was considered a form of prayer. If people could not understand the words, then they could not hear the prayer. The Council of Trent specifically addressed this issue.

3. The influence of Renaissance humanism is evident in the increasing number of secular works published. Although many composers worked in both secular and sacred mediums, the development of music in secular settings seems much more robust during this period.

4. The cathedral of Saint Mark in Venice takes on increasing significance during the Renaissance. The position of music director there became the most prestigious position in Italy (if not all Europe). A number of important composers, from Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli to Claudio Monteverdi, held that post.

5. Although northern Europe was where Renaissance music began, the composers there were not isolated from the rest of Europe. Many, including Josquin, traveled widely and held posts in numerous places. Travel was just as important as publishing in spreading new musical ideas and methods.

6. Toward the end of the Renaissance, music composed for specific instruments began to appear. Throughout the medieval period as well as much of the Renaissance, instruments doubled a voice part or played a transcription or an improvised accompaniment. Not until much later did composers consider idiomatic writing.

7. Claudio Monteverdi provides a good example of how to think about style periods and changes of style. Change doesn’t occur at 12:01 a.m. on January 1 of a given year (1451 for instance), nor does it happen simultaneously across the world. Talk about how Monteverdi’s style changed over his long life. He himself characterized his music as either old style (Renaissance) or new style (baroque).

Reference no: EM13540105

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