PalestrinaThe Renaissance Period was an era of tremendous growth and change. It evolved after the world of the Medieval "dark ages." It was a time for cultural and intellectual revolution.   

The term 'renaissance' is a French word meaning rebirth. The Renaissance was a time of massive upheaval especially in terms of culture, an era of change as well as growth. It was a time of exploration and adventure when sailors like Columbus went on long sea voyages in search of trade routes to the East. Religion faced its own revolution as the Reformation spread.

Renaissance Period

The Renaissance Period (1450-1600) was a time of great intellectual and creative achievers like the artists, composers, writers, among others. An example was Leonardo da Vinci, an extraordinary man who contributed to various areas - he was a great painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, and more.  People felt that up until this time, the world had lived in the confines of the medieval 'dark ages.' The Renaissance was now the time for a new beginning. The Church was no longer the main source of knowledge. The invention of printing, around 1450, helped the spread of the new learning and more knowledge.   

Polyphonic Music

 At this time, polyphonic music was introduced, which literally means 'many sounds.' It means that the sound may consist of three, four, five or six parts, however, they are of equal importance, in which when played together, the various parts all blended, to create harmony.   Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina , an Italian composer, was a known master of Renaissance polyphony. He composed more than a hundred Masses and about four times other sacred works.  

Religious Music

The main types of religious works were Masses, a part of the service used during the Holy Communion in the Roman Catholic Church, and motets, choral church music often sung in Latin.  

Non-Religious or Secular Music   

Along with religious music, there was also much more secular or non-religious music during this period. With the advent of the printing industry, many song collections became available and music became a leisure activity.  It was also expected that all educated people played an instrument. Considered the most important or influential music of this period was the madrigal, which is a piece composed for several voices, usually sung without instruments or a cappella. The text usually followed pastoral or romantic themes, secular in content. Palestrina also composed secular madrigals.    

Music for Instruments, No Longer for Voice Alone

At the same time composers started to write specifically for instruments, rather than just for the voice. Some of these instruments included the harpsichord, recorder family, the oboe, and the clavichord which is an early piano.  

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