Foundations of Renaissance Music

Historical framing of Music from XV Century

The Renaissance period was one of the most flowering and fruitful periods in the history of Western culture, but strangely enough, it is not known even among professional musicians.

Piano tutors usually limit themselves in teaching music from the Baroque period; the cause mainly resides in the fact that all keyboard music started in this period.

The main issue here is that they are leaving their piano students without a corpus of beguiling music that after all, was the foundation upon which the following music was created.

To understand the immense changes that took place in this period, firstly we have to talk about some events that made the flow of information quicker than ever before: this was the beginning of the printing by Gutenberg in 1450; this event cannot be taken lightly, as allowed the communication between nations to be quicker and more effective.

In the music, the Polyphony flourished by the hands of the Franco-Flemish School with composers such as Guillaume Dufay, Johannes Ockeghem, Josquin Des Prez, Orlando di Lasso and Palestrina. 

More specifically, The abandonment of medieval Polyphony - against the Ars Nova reacted with manifest contempt - developing softer and more melodious sounds (suavitas). The new style (already codified in 1477 by the theorist Johannes Tinctoris) welcomes the "imperfect" consonances (thirds and sixths), whose origin is located in the "Contenance Angloise" practised in the British Isles and imported to the continent by John Dunstable at the beginning of the 15th century." as Gisela Paterno tells us in her article.

In general terms, this music is much "freer" than its predecessor, as the beat was not considered as a fixed value, this is why the music displays an unleashed rhythmic freedom not known in later periods.

Renaissance music is definitively a period to explore further and relish. In a nutshell, we can say that with little resources, as they counted with only vocal music, they explored and mastered every possibility.

Do not miss our video lesson published on Youtube, and access to the full post clicking on the link aforementioned.


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