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1.5 THE RENAISSANCE (1450 – 1600AD)

There was a big change with the period of history known as the Renaissance. The basic ideals pursued in all art forms were a return to the idea of Classicism that had been set out by philosophers and writers in ancient Greece (and to some extent ancient Rome ). These Classical ideals would reappear in a different form in the music of the 1800s’. As with the Medieval period, the ideals expressed in the music are also reflected in the art and architecture of the renaissance.

Renaissance painting

In the Church, the developments saw the rise of highly elaborate vocal writing for (largely) unaccompanied choirs, giving rise to the concept of counterpoint and harmony. The concepts of counterpoint and harmony reflected on the way the music was to be put together or composed, and included certain rules for the creators (or composers) of the music. Essentially, these rules laid out the processes where the music “sounded good” or “did not sound good”. The highest achievement in the Renaissance view of perfection in both harmony and counterpoint is generally acknowledged to be in the music of Palestrina , whose music was almost entirely written for the Church.

In the late stage of the Renaissance, a group of interested people amongst the nobility in Italy devised an entertainment which was supposed to recreate the entertainments witnessed in ancient Greece – where there was drama accompanied by music and with movement. In most cases this entertainment had special stage dressing and the performers wore specially designed costumes. This was the birth of Opera and the first opera was staged in 1598 (title ‘Daphne’,

Renaissance sculpture
music by Peri and words – or libretto – by Rinuccini). The major developments in Opera follow through the subsequent periods.


Palestrina MassPlay


1.6 BAROQUE (1600 – 1750AD)

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