Similar to the Medieval Period, there is ambiguity around what music from the
Renaissance actually sounded like.
Polyphonic music emerged in the Medieval Period
and was widespread by the time of the Renaissance.
During Renaissance, counterpoint (“part against part”) also became popular.
One form of counterpoint is imitative counterpoint, in which the melodic phrase
in one voice is imitated by another voice (though not necessarily in the same
key). (Rehbach) Some good examples can be found in Palestrina’s work.
The Reformation of the 16th century played a part in the culture and
music of this time. For example, different English monarchs required the
composition of music with different religious emphases.
Instrumental music was more frequently copied down during the Renaissance
than it had been during the Middle Ages, and Petrucci introduced a method of
printing music in 1501, which allowed the spreading and sharing of this
music more easily.
(Unless noted, all information is sourced from Burrows.)
Josquin: “Ave Maria…Virgo Serena” (popular in 1500s)
“Sicut cervus” (example of a motet)
Madrigals (began in Italy and moved north through Europe to England) (Rehbach)
Early Italian madrigal:
“Il bianco e dolce cigno”
English (madrigals were simpler by the time they reached England) (Rehbach)
Two English madrigals from the late 1500s:
“Sing we and chant it”
Adrien Le Roy
“O madame, pers-je mon temps” (1555)
“Canzonetti e Balli Nel 1500” (Early 1500s) (also includes vocals)