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"Renaissance Music"
Renaissance Music
Jason Cashmere
The Structure and Style of Renaissance Music

In the Renaissance period, composers began experimenting with harmony in their work. Imitative polyphony, monophonic solo and polychoral music was the main style in the Renaissance. Imitative polyphony is when all the voices in a piece of music move at the same speed and share the development of the piece in a way that later became known as Fugue.

Polychoral music is similar to polyphony but is written for choirs, usually to be sung in church. Monophony is simply a solo piece with one line of music and, naturally, one voice.

Medieval and Renaissance styles differ in the way the music is written as well, in the order it’s written. Medieval composers built the music up layer upon layer, whereas Renaissance composers often preferred to write all the parts simultaneously, and blend them together rather than contrast them.

There is a lot of emphasis on texture in polyphony music. Specific instruments were chosen because they had a certain texture in their sound and the composer would use that texture to compliment other textures within the piece.

Renaissance Instruments

The Renaissance saw many new instruments as well as old ones remaining popular. Different composers preferred to write for different instruments predominantly, but the basic availability remained pretty much the same. These are the main instruments that were used in Renaissance music:

The Lute
The lute is the ancestor of the modern day guitar. It held the highest respect of all instruments during the Renaissance, both as an accompaniment and as a solo instrument. It could be played with a plectrum but the best lutenists used only their fingers, giving a very distinctive, very expressive sound.

Although the greatest repertoire for the lute is from England, the finest lutes came from Italy. The delicacy of the sound is reflected in the light...

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