The Renaissance (1400-1600): an overview

This post is a brief introduction to the first major era of European music: the renaissance. If you would like something more substantial, please see my three posts on the era: an introduction (1400-1500), Elizabethan England (Tallis and Byrd, 1500-1600), and the Roman School (Palestrina and Allegri, 1550-1640). *** Dates: 1400-1600 Quick features: largely a […]

6: The Renaissance, part 3 (Palestrina and Allegri, 1550-1640)

*** If you would prefer a brief overview of the renaissance, it can be found here. *** Last post I discussed the attempts of renaissance composers to grapple with the central challenge of composition: balancing the dictates of melody (hence time) with the need to combine voices harmoniously. You may recall the development of imitation: […]

4: The Renaissance, part 1 (harmony evolves, 1400-1500)

*** If you would prefer a brief overview of the renaissance, it can be found here. *** Like listening whilst you read? You can find today’s listening at the bottom of the page. *** The renaissance (meaning rebirth), was a period of European history spanning 1400-1600, perhaps best known for its flourishing secular life and […]

3: A double history of harmony (Pythagoras and late medieval music c.1150-1250)

Harmony, Harmonia, harmonious, harmonic, harmonica, harmonium, harmonise – what is harmony, and why do we care? Harmony is often mischaracterised as ‘a harmony’ to mean a melody played over the top of a main melody (especially in popular music), but harmony and melody are quite separate things: melody is the lateral relationship between pitches (i.e. […]