Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Baroque Era:

Baroque opera developed from the stories of ancient Greek tragedy. Italian musicians sought to express the emotion and depth of these Greek tragedies and thus integrated them into their own modern form, the opera.
There are certain things that make up an opera. The music, orchestra, libretto, performers, costuming, and stage design (complete with scenery and lighting). There would almost always be some sort of solo part, whether it be a solo aria, duet, or trio. The opera would open with the overture, the instrumental piece that the orchestra would play to introduce the performance. Along with the orchestra a chorus was also present in the opera.
Italian Opera
Florentine Opera At the end of the 1500s, a group of Florentine noblemen wanted to bring back ancient Greek tragedy. Calling themselves the Camerata, they created the stil rappresentativo, or theater style. This was a new style of singing of drama, and, consequently, became the earliest operas. This new form of music developed because composers of the


madrigal style were looking for ways to convey dramatic expression. This new "theater style" became prevalent and was used consistently in opera.
Roman Opera In the 1630s, Rome became the center of opera. Roman opera differed from the Italian form in that it focused more on religious subjects than on Greek mythology. Roman opera also employed the use of its chorus to a greater extent. The aria and the

recitative were beginning to become more distinct and greatly differed from one another. The intermezzi, a comedic interlude between acts, would be the model for the future comedic opera style.
Venetian Opera Venice became the center of Italian opera in the early to mid 1600s. In 1637, the first public opera house, the Teatro San Cassiano, opened its doors in the city of Venice.
The Venetian opera had its own special attributes. It used less choral and orchestral music and placed more emphasis on formal arias as well as on elaborate stage machinery. The bel canto, or "beautiful singing" style, started to appear. This style placed more focus on vocal elegance than on dramatic expression. Two final characteristics of venetian opera were its complex and improbable plots and the prototype of its overture, which was a short instrumental fanfare performed at the beginning of the opera.
Neopolitan Opera European opera was dominated by the Neopolitan opera form during the later 1600s and early 1700s. During this period, operas became more artificial and formalized from the dramatic standpoint. An A-B-A sectional structure, called the da capo aria, and a siciliana, another aria in a minor key with six-eight meter and slow tempo, were widely used. As far as other components of the Neopolitan opera, the orchestra’s role was greatly diminished and the chorus was almost nonexistent. Recitatives were now being used, although they did not hold the same level of importance as the aria. The recitativo secco, or dry recitative, which had a declamatory melody with sparse continuo accompaniment, and the recitative accompagnato, which used and orchestral accompaniment were featured.
A compromise between these two main types of musical form, the aria and the recitative, emerged in the creation of the arioso. Male sopranos, or castratti, were the "superstars" of opera, with their showy and often improvisational use of vocal technique. The sinfonia, or Italian overture, was developed with a fast-slow-fast scheme. It would later develop into what is now known as the classical symphony.
French Opera and Ballet
French opera didn’t develop until the second half of the 1600s. It was inspired by popular French dramas and from court ballet. The French took opera and made it their own, by putting unique characteristics into the basic Italian opera's mainframe. The French overture became common. It placed a unique spin on the traditional overture. It was made up of two repeating sections; the first was in slow tempo and dotted rhythm, while the second was in lively tempo and fugal texture.
French opera also made less use of virtuosity and paid attention to the accentuation of the literature. It used shorter and simpler dance-like airs, more expressive and melodic recitatives, and put greater importance on the drama. It also added ballet and increased the use of the orchestra.
During the Renaissance, it was typical in France for court dances with scenery and costumes to take place. This was an early form of ballet. However, the first actual “ballet” or extant ballet didn’t occur until 1581. It was called the Ballet Comique de la Reine. It is important to note that in the beginning, royalty would take part in the ballet, a tradition that started at the court of King Louis XIV at Versailles. Additionally, Lully and Moliere worked together to create a new form of ballet, the Comedie-ballet, a combination of a play and ballet. Beginning with Lully, ballets were entered into operas. He called this tragedies-lyriques or opera-ballets.
English Opera never advamced the popularity it had in both France and Italy. Since Italian operas were typically performed in the city of London, the English did not feel the need to make their own operatic form. Instead, they were more involved in theater music forms, especially that of the Masque, Incidental and Entr’acte.
Masque A Masque was an extravagant play performed privately for nobility. It was a play based on an allegory or mythology and had songs, dances, poetry, sometimes recitatives, and instrumental pieces.
Incidental and Entr’acte music Incidental music was composed to be played during the action scenes in plays. Entr’acte music was to be performed between acts or scenes in a play, with instrumental pieces called curtain tunes or act tunes. Some incidental and entr’acte music was so complete and developed in some works, that the play could almost be seen as a true opera.
The opera seria was little too serious for some, and, consequently, the comedic opera appeared in the early 1700s as a way to lighten the emotions of the time. In it, parody, satire, and humor were present.
Comedic opera had some general characteristics. Spoken dialogue replaced the recitatives of serious opera, except in Italian comic opera. The characters, aria texts, and melodies of serious operas were often parodied, and subjects were now light, frivolous, and humorous. Small ensemble groups and choirs were used at the conclusion of acts. Commonplace characters replaced the exalted or heroic figures of serious operas and popular tunes replaced the dramatic and formal arias.
Some famous types of comedic opera are the Italian opera buffa, the French opera comique, and the English ballad opera.
This was a form of music that was non-theatrical less important than opera, and composed for a few performers and an intimate audience in a small room.
Solo Song Solo song was vocal music that was a solo piece for one performer. By the 17th century, a huge number of solo songs had developed. This form was most famous in Spain, England, Germany, and Italy. Often, it would have lute accompaniment to go along with the performer's voice.
Chamber Cantata The Chamber

cantata developed after 1650. It was a non-theatrical composition, short in length, and based on texts of a narrative character. It was written for one or two solo voices with an accompaniment by the basso continuo. It had secco recitatives alternating with da capo arias, usually two or three of each.

The Baroque Era brought monumental changes to instrumental music. During this time, instrumental music became just as important as vocal music both in quality and quantity, as many new developments occurred in the instrumental world.
General Characteristics
During the Baroque Era, the use of imporvisation increased. This change was most important in instrumental music. However, as important as it was, improvisation caused problems when musicians attemped to understand and perform Baroque music accurately.

Basso continuo , or figured bass, was purely an instrumental concept. It is music that is played by one or more bass instruments and a keyboard instrument. Basso continuo gave bass parts an importance of their own in all areas of ensemble music. It is one of the most distinct features of the Baroque Era as a whole.
Thematic variation occured in all aspects of instrumental music, during this time period. In addition to thematic variation, sequencing was also used. This was a repetition of melody patterns on successively higher or lower pitches. It became a typical part of instrumental music during the mid-Baroque period.
Another characteristic of the Baroque Era was the distinction between the chamber ensemble and the orchestra. This started to take place around the late 1600s. Equal tempered tuning of keyboard instruments was now commonplace. The old method of tuning, which was called

intonation was no longer practiced. Bach's The Well Tempered Clavier was composed to show equality of keys in the new tuning system.
The Baroque Era saw the continuation of all the instruments that were used during the Renaissance. During this period, there were mechanical and technological improvements to the instruments, and they started to develop into the instruments that we know today. Another important development of the Baroque Era was the development of the violin family, which occurred at the end of the 1600s.
Keyboard Instruments
Keyboard instruments were used for basso continuo parts and solo music. They were involved in a major portion of the instrumental literature of the time. During this era, three types of keyboards existed; the clavichord, the organ, and the harpsichord.
Clavichord The clavichord produced sound by striking a metal wedge striking against a string when a key was pressed. The sound quality was weak, but the instrument was able to produce some dynamics. It was mainly used in Germany and usually played as a solo instrument or in a small ensemble.
Organ The Baroque organ was more powerful than its predecessor, the Renaissance organ. Organs were mostly associated with church music and used as solo instruments or accompaniment instruments. A vast growth in organ literature took place during this period.
Harpsichord The Harpsichord was very popular and was known by various names in different parts of Europe. In Italy, it was called a

clavicembalo . In England, it was referred to as a virginal. In France it was termed a

clavecen , and in Germany, it was named

klavier . The harpsichord usually had two manuals or keyboards. It's tone was produced with quills which plucked the strings mechanically every time a key was pressed. The tone of the harpsichord was stronger than the clavichord but it could not produce dynamics. The harpsichord was the main instrument employed in the basso continuo. It is one of the most distinctive sounds of the Baroque Era and was the most favored instrument in solo music.
String Instruments The principal string instruments of the 1600s were the viol family. The new violin family of instruments slowly replaced them. The violin soon became the new leader of the stringed instruments, and its sound became the dominant timbre in late Baroque ensemble music. The bass viol commonly known as the contrabass, or double bass was still utilized, even though the other viols died out. During the 1600s, the lute started to lose its dominance in the music world. A few pieces of lute music were still being produced, mainly in France and Germany.
Wind Instruments During the Baroque era the principal woodwind instruments used were the bassoon, flute, and oboe. Older end-blown recorders were still in use during the late Baroque period. The transverse flute started to become a common solo and ensemble instrument. Brass instruments such as horns, trumpets, and trombones were used in large ensembles, but rarely as solo instruments.
Percussion Instruments Timpani were the only percussion instruments in common use at this time. They were used sparingly in the orchestra.
During the beginning of the Baroque Era, the Renaissance forms continued to dominate the musical world. During the second half of the century, there were distinct changes, as new musical forms appeared.
Fugal Forms The early fugal forms were carried over from the Renaissance Era. They included the

fantasia ,

canzona (which was the forerunner precursor of the sonata), and the capriccio. These were all written for keyboard instruments. By the mid 1600’s, these forms were replaced by the

fugue . The Fugue of the 1600’s was

monothematic . Each voice stated the theme. The subject was played in the

tonic key and answered in the dominant key. Fugues were composed for all media, including choral ensembles. They were also written as independent pieces and as movements in larger works.
Variation Forms Thematic

variations were used in various forms such as

cantus firmus , canzona, and dance suites. Keyboard instruments mainly carried out these variation forms.
Ground, which was a type of variation used in England, had a short recurrent theme in the bass line and a continually changing

counterpoint . Improvised variations on a ground are called divisions. Variations were also called passacaglia and chaconne. Cantus firmus variations were important in Germany. They restated the chorale melody completely and had a different contrapuntal setting each time.
Dance Suite Dance music retained its importance from past musical eras. Suites or partitas were the main dance forms. Harpsichords, chamber ensembles, and orchestras all played dance music. There was no standard number or order for the movements in the suites, and usually the movements were in the same key.
The form for each dance movement was binary, meaning it had two sections that were repeated. The first section modulated to the dominant key and the second section began in a contrasting key and then moved back to tonic key at the conclusion.
Common dance movements that were specific to the Baroque Era were the

courante ,

gigue ,

allemande , and sarabande. Every now and then, other forms of nondance movements appeared in suites such as airs, fugues, and variations.
Chorale Prelude This was the most important category of Baroque organ music and was used primarily in church music. The

cantus firmus was the most common chorale prelude. It had longer note values and a fast moving counterpoint. The cantus firmus could show up in any part of the piece. Sometimes it would appear in the pedels, while at other times each phrase of the chorale would appear in imitative counterpoint preceding the cantus firmus in longer notes.
A coloration chorale stated the chorale melody in the top part as a cantus firmus and disguised the original melody by using ornamention.

chorale partita was a set of variations on a chorale tune. Each variation was called a verse. The chorale melody was modified but otherwise kept intact as cantus firmus. Only the accompanying counterpoint changed.
Improvisatory Forms Certain keyboard forms such as the

prelude , fantasia, and

toccata appeared regularly during the Baroque Era. There were no specific rules for these improvisatory forms. They shared some common items such as

contrapuntal textures, rapid scales, sustained chords, and figuration. Improvisation lacked distinct thematic material and formal unity.
Sonata The

sonata was a multi-movement work that was composed for various solo instruments and for small chamber groups during the Baroque era. The term sonata appeared in the early 1500s in Italy. There were three types of sonatas: an unaccompanied solo sonata that was written for the violoin or cello; an accompanied solo sonata that was written for different instruments with basso continuo; and a trio sonata that was written for two solo instruments and basso continuo played by a keyboard instrument or cello.
The church sonata evolved in Italy after 1650. It had a number of movements that contrasted in tempo and texture. By the end of the Baroque Era, church sonatas were written in four movements. The tempo of the movements followed a slow-fast-slow-fast plan. They were meant to be played in parts of a church service and used the organ to perform the continuo parts.
The chamber sonata or sonata da camera was a suite of dance movements. They were named corrente, giga, sarabanda, and allemanda. Harpsichords were used to play the continuo in a chamber sonata. By the late Baroque era, there were few distinctions between church and chamber sonatas. They both included dance names for some movements and only had tempo indications on some of the sonatas.

Tower sonatas or

turmsonaten were composed for a small group of wind instruments. They were meant to be played at certain times of the day from church steeples or towers.
Keyboard sonatas were solo sonatas for the harpsichord and appeared at the end of the 1600s. These sonatas represented a very small percentage of Baroque instrumental compositions.
Orchestral Music
The Baroque orchestra did not have standardization. It was composed mainly of strings, while wind instruments and percussion instruments were used less frequently. The bass part of the orchestra played the basso continuo. Instruments of different kinds doubled on each part as there was not much color definition to the Baroque era’s orchestration.
The solo concerto was fully developed towards the end of the Baroque Era. It was a concerto for one instrument and an orchestra. It was written in three movements using a fast-slow-fast plan.
The concerto grosso was an important form of Baroque orchestral literature. It consisted of a group of two or three solo instruments (concertino) playing in opposition to the orchestra as a whole (tutti). It was often played in alternating and contrasting sections.


Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750)
Johann Sebastian Bach was known as "Old Bach", a name given to him by King Frederick of Prussia. This title was given to him because of his reputation as a very serious person.
Bach had an innate musical talent. As a child, he learned to play the organ and the clavichord and sang in a choir. He was able to support himself by his music at the age of fifteen and held several organist positions in nearby towns.
He was a master at composing concertos,

cantatas ,

oratorios , chorales, piano inventions, and other religious music. The F Major and A Minor piano inventions are very well known. For most of his life, the organ and clavichord were his instruments of choice. He is considered the father of counterpoint.
Bach was not introduced to the piano until he was sixty years old. Once he discovered the instrument, Bach wrote a six-part

fugue for King Frederick as a "musical offering". Today that fugue is considered one of the most remarkable fugues in all of music history.
Later on in life Bach was stricken with blindness. He underwent an operation to try to correct the blindness, but it was unsuccessful and only aggravated his condition. As a result, he suffered a paralytic stroke and died. He is considered one of the most influential composers of all time.

Corelli, Archangelo (1653-1713)
Archangelo Corelli was born in Fusignano, Italy in 1653. He was a violinist who composed

concerti grossi and

trio sonatas. His composition style is considered very typical of the Baroque period. A distinguishing feature of Corelli is that he only composed music for instrumentalists. His compositions were among some of the most popular pieces of the time period. His music was richly spirited and had a touching and refined melodic sense.
TRI"); //-->
Handel, Georg Friedrich (1685-1759)
Born in the year 1685, George Friedrich Handel became the second most prominent composer of the High Baroque era. He was second only to J.S . Bach.
Handel composed sonatas, concertos, operas, and modern oratorios. He helped develop the modern opera and modern oratorio form further, while his sonatas and concertos made great use of his melodic techniques. A famous song from the oratorio Judas Maccabeus, is "Sing Unto God." Another famous work that is recognized world wide is the "Hallelujah Chorus" (from the Messiah) which is also written in oratorio form.

Monteverdi , Claudio (1567-1643)
Claudio Monteverdi was born in Italy in 1567. Monteverdi is most famous for his contributions to the early operatic form. He was an Italian composer of opera,

sacred , and

secular music who was ahead of his time in musical technique. As the Medieval era was a very conservative time in music, Monteverdi went against the grain. He felt that rules should be broken when they had to be, especially if it was in the interests of meaning and expressiveness.
Monteverdi was very interested in new musical techniques. Far advanced for his time, he employed a complete orchestra as opposed to using a few instruments which played the same part. This yielded a crude

polyphony , much unlike the typical sound of the time. Monteverdi taught the viol section of the orchestra to play with bows instead of plucking strings. He further introduced

tremelo and

pizzicato to the strings. Monteverdi had a hard time explaining to the violists that they had to play a single note sixteen times in rapid succession. When he suggested plucking strings pizzicato to the violists, they almost revolted against him
At age forty, Monteverdi composed his first opera, called Orfeo. This was an instant success, as it was written expressively and dramatically. His second opera, Arianna, received just as much, if not more, praise for being emotionally overwhelming. A lament in Arianna, called "Lasciatemi Morir" often moved the audience to tears. Other famous works of Monteverdi's are his operas Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patri, L'incoronazion di Poppea, and Il Combattimento di Clorinda. He died at the age of seventy-six but left a lasting impression on the musical world, one that would change the face of music forever.

Purcell, Henry 1659-1695
Throughout his life, English born Henry Purcell composed music in all forms and styles. He is most known for his lively trumpet voluntaries and sweet vocal airs. He was also a composer of multiple forms, such as court, church, stage, and chamber music. At age six he became a choirboy in the Chapel Royal. When his voice changed at age fourteen, he then became the "keeper, maker, mender, repairer and tuner of the regalls, organs, virginals, flutes, and recorders and all other kind of wind instruments, in ordinary, without fee, to His Majesty (Kaufmann, 103)."
By the time Purcell was fifteen years old, he was paid two pounds (or ten dollars) a year to tune the organ in Westminster Abbey. By age twenty, he became organist of Westminster Abbey. Additionally, it was his job to compose music for the King's violins. This task helped him to attain an audience for his organ works, songs, and instrumental compositions.
Some of Henry Purcell's more famous works are A Song to Welcome Home His Majesty from Windsor and They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships. Dido and Aenas is his only surviving opera. This opera contains the powerful musical pieces "Lament" and "When I Am Laid in Earth." It is still performed often today. His last anthem, Thou Knowest Lord, the Secrets of our Hearts, was so emotionally written that it was played at the funeral of Queen Mary. Six months later, this piece was performed in Westminster Abbey at Purcell's own funeral. Today he is remembered as one of the greatest composers who ever lived and is known for his exceptional and pleasant use of harmonies.

Rameau, Jean-Philippe (1683-1764)
Born in 1683, Jean Philippe Rameau became one of the greatest French theoreticians of all time. He broke the rules on harmonic practice of the time, and suggested new forms through his music. The Nouvelles Suites Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gavotte written for the

clavecen display some of these new principles. He was courageous in his philosophies, inventive in terms of harmony, and had an extreme command of orchestration. He was always interested in adding new effects, such as storm scenes, and choruses into his music.

Vivaldi, Antonio (1680-1743)
Antonio Vivaldi was an Italian composer who was well known as a violinist and composer of solo violin concertos. He had a different musical philosophy regarding composition. He felt that the soloist and orchestra should be in musical conflict with one another, (similar to the give and take that happens when two people are speaking to one another). He is believed to have composed over 750 works of music. He set precedence by adding drama and strong rhythm to basic harmonies. Vivaldi previewed what was to become the sonata-allegro form and the typical sound of the 18th century. One of Vivaldi's most famous works is the Four Seasons, a four part concerto. Each section is named after a season. "La Primavera", "L'estate", "L'inverno", and "L'Autunno".

The Renaissance Era:

English and Burgundian Music
During the beginning of the Renaissance period, musical form followed the same basic principles that were used the Medieval era. However, techniques evolved and new styles emerged.
The three main forms used up to the sixteenth century were

mass ,

motet , and chanson. They were similar in that they all were

polyphonic in texture, had four to six parts, and were all composed for voice. Additionally, the carol was also a popular Renaissance form.Mass The mass was a standard liturgical form. It was polyphonic in style, with

plainsong used for the tenor parts. Sometimes secular tunes would be used for

cantus firmus . The mass had a regal mood to it and was of considerable length. It was divided into five sections, or movements, and used sacred Latin text.
Motet A motet was a sacred choral composition based on a single Latin text and sung in all voice parts. The top voice was greatly emphasized. The motet short in length, and written in one continuous movement. It was also written on a variety of different subjects, usually derived from the Bible.
Chanson The most popular and common secular music during the early Renaissance was the polyphonic chanson. It was reminiscent of the solo song, which used the principal melody in the top voice. These secular texts were written in French. The chanson had the same polyphonic texture of the mass but was more rhythmic.
Carol During the Renaissance era, the carol was a popular music form in England. It consisted of two parts and was sung to a religious poem of numerous stanzas with the same music and refrain.
Franco-Flemish Music
The Franco-Flemish school of music was at its height during the 1400s. The Franco-Flemish composers were more interested in creating new techniques within the popular existing forms, as opposed to inventing new form types.
Canon The

cannon made its first appearance during the 1300s in the popular caccia of the Medieval era. It was abandoned at the turn of the next century and reappeared with new popularity during the latter part of the 1400s. The new canon employed some interesting techniques.
1. Mensuration canons-several voices carrying the same melody at different rates of speed. 2. Retrograde canons-the melody is sung backwards.3. Augmentation canons-the time values of the notes increase in the imitating voice. 4. Double canons-four parts with two different melodies, each canonically imitated. (55)
Mass A new form of mass emerged, called the cantus firmus mass. Here, each successive section of the ordinary had the same melody. These cantus firmi were usually written in the plainsong style, but sometimes secular music was used. Most of the time, these masses were based on cantus firmus.
Motet Ther was less use of cantus firums in motets than in masses. The Franco-Flemish motet made use of sections written in duet style, chordal style, fugal or imitative style, and free non-imitative

counterpoint .
Secular Music The chanson remained the dominant form of secular music, as it had been in the English style. The Franco-Flemish school made variations to it and made it less sectionalized. Lieder, a

monophonic or polyphonic German secular work, gained popularity from the end of the 1400s to the end of the 1500s.
It is in the 1500s that the Renaissance reached its height. In terms of vocal polyphony, the Renaissance exhibited monumental growth.
Throughout the sixteenth century, vocal polyphony reached its ultimate degree of perfection. Religious music was no longer led by the Roman Catholic Church, as Protestant music was also coming into common usage. While the vocal style still dominated the musical world, instrumental style began to increasingly appear. Secular music gained additional popularity, and schools besides the dominating Franco-Flemish one evolved all across the globe.
Throughout the 1500s, liturgical music grew in size, technique, and usage. Religious music was still dominated by masses and motets. Also, some non-liturgical forms began to develop and became somewhat popular during the second half of the Renaissance.
Mass The main type of mass used during this time was the cantus firmus mass. It used plainsongs and secular melodies. Another common mass used during the sixteenth century was the parody mass, which had a complete secular chanson or motet altered to fit the text of the ordinary mass. After the early 1500s, completely canonic masses became less and less commonly used.
Motet The motet did not change much in form or technique. In fugal motets, each successive phrase of text introduced a new concept or theme that was then imitated in other voices. Some motets divided the text from one line to the next so that more than one voice sang each new line of text.
Non-liturgical forms The most popular non-liturgical form of the time period was the laude. This was a religious song of praise that was given a simple polyphonic setting in chordal style. Its text was in either Latin or Italian.
Schools Although the Franco-Flemish school still dominated the musical world, other schools became important, and developed music themselves. These schools were the Spanish school, the English school, the Venetian school, and the German school.
The Protestant Reformation led to many new developments in church music. Roman Catholic church music still dominated the era, but Protestantism added creative innovations to the music world.
Martin Luther, who sparked the Protestant Reformation, with his Ninety Five Theses, in 1517, believed strongly that music should be involved in church music. He felt that the congregation should participate in the service, especially in hymn singing.
Chorale The

chorale was one of the most important musical forms to come out of the Protestant Reformation. It was a hymn that was meant to be sung by the congregation. At first, chorales were monophonic and then progressed to four part harmony. Eventually, the chorales were used in more elaborate settings and were performed by choruses. Choral

preludes , were

contrapuntal arrangements of chorales which were played on an organ.
In France, the Huguenot movement yielded an important literature of psalms set to music.
Psalms Biblical psalms were translated into French verse and then set to melodies. These psalms were meant to be sung in unison by the congregation and also to be sung at home. Additionally, four part harmonization and more elaborate contrapuntal arrangements of psalms were developed in this era.
Church Music Psalm singing also became popular in England during the second half of the Renaissance. The English mass equivalent of the Catholic mass was called the "service." This mass was set to texts in a polyphonic manner. Besides services, two other forms of polyphony were present at this point in time. These were the Catholic anthem, which was a catholic motet with an English text, and the verse anthem, which alternated solo and choral sections and used organ or string accompaniment. In addition, Anglican chant was based upon Catholic plainsong. The English language now replaced Latin texts, and the melodies were given metrical organization.
Secular music of the time developed into wider geographic areas during the second half of the Renaissance. It continued to grow and diversify in form and style well into the 1600s. Secular music of the time had specific rules, according to Hugh M. Miller:
1. As in the 14th century, secular music again rivaled sacred music, largely because of the widespread renaissance spirit of secularization and also because poetry was flourishing.2. The rise of national schools was even more pronounced in secular that in sacred music, although the influence of Netherlands composers was still strong.3. Secular music flourished in all European courts under the patronage of nobility4. It should be remembered that Renaissance secular music everywhere was intended as entertainment for amateur performers rather than as concert music. 5. It was composed and performed as chamber music for a few participants rather than for large choral ensembles.
Italian Form
During the late 1400s, popular vocal forms, referred to collectively as the vocal canzoni, appeared in Italy. These forms of music were generally in four parts, strongly metrical, predominantly chordal, and had dance like rhythms to them. These forms came right before the 16th century

madrigal . The madrigal developed from the 1500s to the 1600s, and had more expressiveness to it, was more contrapuntally elaborate, and was more polished overall.
French Form
The most popular secular form in France were the polyphonic chanson and the solo chanson with contrapuntal accompaniment. While some chansons were in chordal style, others had more elegant counterpoint with imitation. The chanson measures, a type of chanson from the late 1500s, made use of quantitative rhythms, which stressed syllables were given twice the note values of unstressed syllables, resulting in frequently shifting meters.
English Form
English madrigals were popular during the sixteenth century. An English madrigal used five voices. It was written in a light and leisurely manner. A form of the madrigal called ballett was also popular. It used refrains in lively contrapuntal style alternating with chordal style for the stanzas.
German Form
A popular type of secular music in Germany during this time was the polyphonic lied. This was written in four voices with imitative counterpoint. The basis for this form was often popular songs. Another popular German form during the Renaissance was quodlibet. This form had various popular tunes and their texts humorously combined in a contrapuntal manner.
Spanish Form
The main Spanish secular form during the Renaissance was the villancico. The villancico was a four part work, written mostly in chordal style, with a regular metric construction. This was based on a three stanza poem and was musically structured according to the formula A B B A. This form of music was performed as solo songs with instruments playing the lower parts.

Even though the instrumental music of the Renaissance period did not equal the vocal music, in terms of quality and quantity, it still played an integral part of the era. Instrumental music gained in popularity and developeda musical form that was distinct from vocal music.
During the Renaissance era, instrumental music was written according to specific rules.
1. Improvisation was very important in performance and for melodic ornamentation.2. Transcriptions of vocal music for instrumental performance were numerous.3. Instruments were freely employed in the performance of vocal music.4. Some instrumental forms were borrowed from vocal forms, while others were instrumentally invented.
Instrumental music also had specific characteristics during the Renaissance Era. The instrumental style of the Renaissance time period was also distinct.
1. Melodic range was wider than vocal limitations.2. There was extensive ornamentation including coloration, embellishment, and figuration.3. There was a much freer treatment of dissonance.4. In lute and keyboard music

contrapuntal parts were freely added or dropped without indicating rests.5. There were exceedingly long and rapid scale passages.6. There were numerous wide skips.
During this era, the instruments on which musicians played from day to day also improved. The instruments most commonly used were of keyboards, strings, and winds.
Bowed Strings Ancestors of the 17th century violin family, Renaissance viols, were fretted instruments with six strings tuned in fourths, with a third in the middle (A d g b e’ a’). They were used in various ensembles called consorts (consisting entirely of viols) or in mixed consorts, which had recorders and other instruments in it.
Plucked Strings The most popular solo instrument of the Renaissance was the lute. It had an angled neck and pear shaped body. Lutes were fretted instruments. It had six strings tuned, as did viols, in fourths with a third in the middle (G c f a d’ g’). Lute music was often written in tablature, a special kind of musical notation that indicates the fret and string for a given note. Being extremely versatile, the lute was used for solo, accompaniment and for ensemble music purposes.
The most important wind instrument of the Renaissance era was the recorder. The recorder was a hollow, end-blown wooden flute. The recorder was also a very versatile instrument and it was used in may different types of ensemble music. It ranged in size from treble to bass. Other notable wind instruments were the shawm and the cromorn (double reed woodwinds), coronets (soft toned instruments made out of wood or ivy), and early trumpets and trombones (restricted to the natural tone of the harmonic series). These instruments were first emerging and were confined to fanfares or to outdoor music festivals.
Organs and keyboards were the primary keyboard instruments used during the Renaissance era. They were commonly found in churches. In their earliest form, pedalboards were not built into such organs (except in Germany). Regals, or positive organs, were in wide use since the Medieval period, while the portative organ died out during the latter 1600s.
Additionally, there were two other types of keyboard instruments now present in the musical world. They were the clavichord and the harpsichord.
Keyboard instruments were mainly used for solo purposes during the Renaissance, and rarely accompanied vocal

polyphony . It was an even rarer occurrence that a vocal or ensemble piece to be accompanied by a clavichord or harpsichord.
The term Renaissance ensemble is meant to be used in a simplistic, unevolved form. Rarely did an ensemble match what we would today call an orchestra. Instead, ensembles were basically small chamber groups. Seldom was specific instrumentation for ensembles declared in a score.
Renaissance composers did not give much thought to whether their pieces would be vocal or instrumental. Most pieces of the time were written “per cantar e sonar”, which means “for singing and playing”. Composers wrote their works so that either the voice or instruments could be used to convey the message of their work. There was still a distinction between sacred and secular music during the 1700s.
Dance Music In its begining stages, dance music was written to accompany social gatherings. Later on, during the 1700s, a more structured and specifically styled dance form was developed. Dance music became popular and its form was filled with strong rhythm and repeating sections. The dances of the time were usually arranged in groups of 2 or 3 movements. In the typical dance pair, both sections had the same tune; the first dance was in slow tempo while the following one was faster with a change of meter. The lute, which was popular, helped to play dance music, while the harpsichord and small ensembles also contributed to this art form.
Cantus Firmus Forms The

cantus firmus musical form was basically for use in the Church, as it was liturgical music. Usually, this type of music was played by an organist between verses of a hymn sung by the congregation or choir. Stylistically, a cantus firmus piece was based on simplistic

plainsong or secular song, which was meant to be played by a harpsichord, organ, or an ensemble of viols.
Improvisational Forms The

prelude was the main improvosational form during the Renaissance. Usually composed for keyboard or lute instruments, it was an instrumental type which made use of a collection of materials in order to give the listener a feeling of improvisation.
Variation Forms Variations were written in many different ways. Theme and variation form was based on a popular tune which itself was modified with each restatement. Another variation was called ground, which used short themes of four to eight measures in the bass and had a changing

counterpoint played above it. A cantus firmus variation used a single melody which was repeated a number of times. Each time the melody was repeated it was accompanied by a different counterpoint and in a different voice. English hexachord variations used as a theme the first 6 notes of a scale. This was most common in virginal music.

Byrd, William (1543-1623)
William Byrd was born in the county of Eincolnshire, England (the same place where Robin Hood lived). William Byrd was a composer of music for both the Protestant and Catholic churches. For the Protestant church, he composed Great Service and Short Service. For the Catholic church, he composed

masses , hymns, and

madrigals .
During his childhood, he was probably one of the Children of the Chapel Royal in London, since it is known that Byrd was raised listening to music composed by Thomas Tallis. Tallis was the organist and choir director of that Chapel. At age twenty, he became Organist of the Lincoln Cathedral in his home town and later became a Gentleman at the Chapel Royal. He became the organist at the Chapel and worked along with his mentor Thomas Tallis.
Byrd is famous for writing extraordinary masses,

motets , vocal and solo songs, and for chamber music composed for strings without voice. He is well known for his madrigals as well. The Sweet and Merry Month of May is very typical of the madrigals that Byrd wrote. He was described as a man with natural gravity and piety. He was versatile in instrumental form too, as he also wrote chamber music. During his life, he was considered the foremost composer of keyboard music in all of Europe. Byrd composed and excelled in writing sacred, secular, vocal and instrumental music and left a lasting impression on the musical world.
Desprez, Josquin (1440-1521)
Throughout his life, he was by far the most sought after composer in all of Europe. He was born in the Duchy of Burgandy, now Beligium, and spent his life living in various Italian cites. He retired to Conde in Northeast France.
He helped to spread

polyphony in Northern Italy. In Josquin's extended works, a certain subtlety and serenity were always included, (a characteristic of the Franco-Flemish school). The repetoire of his music surviving today is rather large and is made up of motets, masses and secular songs, in both French and Italian. He was a master of four-voice and other large textures, as well as parodies, light songs, and French chansons. Because of his human quality, quantity, and technical mastery, Josquin is still extremely renowned and respected as a composer today.
Gabrielli, Giovanni (1554-1612)
Born in Italy in 1554, Giovanni Gabrielli was a composer of sacred and secular vocal music. He also composed music for string, keyboard, and wind ensemble pieces. He is best known for his perfection of the cori spezzati musical form, in which choirs or performing groups are broken up into sections and dispersed in and around the performance space. Gabrielli was also famous for his chromatic motets written about damnation and hell. Additionally, he was a promoter of the music of Monteverdi.
Gibbons, Orlando (1583-1625)
Orlando Gibbons lived during the historical high point of English music. Gibbons is renowned as being the greatest English composer of his generation. He was born in Oxford, played and taught music to royalty, and died at the age 42.
Along with other composers of the time, Gibbons wrote new music and developed new techniques for consort music. He also is famous for his sacred choral music, English anthems, and verse anthems. Additionally, he wrote consort songs for vocal madrigals and solo songs with viol consort accompaniments. His madrigal The Silver Swan is well known. His music remains well loved today and his choral music is constantly played as part of the English Cathedral repetoire.
Ockeghem, Johannes (1410-1497)
Ockeghem is known as one of the fathers of Renaissance music. He was born in 1410 and became one of the most respected composers of the fifteenth century. Very little of his musical repetoire survives today. He is known for his motets, masses, and secular chansons.
Stylistically, Johannes Ockeghem was very distinct. In his vocal pieces, he placed an emphasis on expressive and complex bass lines. This new emphasis on lower textures allowed Renaissance composers to have a wide range of diversity in their music. Ockeghem has been described as a purely technical master. He is also considered to be a pioneer of western polyphony and one of the supreme masters of lyrical and contrapuntal invention.
Palestrina, Giovanni (1525-1594)
Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina was an Italian composer who wrote over one hundred settings of the mass. He composed sacred music and was an important musical figure of the Renaissance. He is best known for his "seamless texture" of polyphony.
His prominent works are his First Book of Masses, the Mass of Marcellus, and his First Book of Motets. He composed masses, motets, and sacred works. Adoramus te Christe is an example of his sacred music. His music is marked by purity, clarity, terseness, simplicity, and the omission of secular elements. Because of all of his worthy compositions, he earned the title "Prince of Music," which was engraved on the leaden plate that marks the tomb on his grave. He died in 1594, but his influence lasted for many eras past his death.