Renaissance Secular Music

Vocal Music
During the Renaissance, secular vocal
music became increasingly popular
 Music was set to poems in various
languages, including: Italian, French,
Spanish, German, Dutch, and English
 The development of music printing
helped spread secular music
Vocal Music
Music was an important leisure activity,
every educated person was expected to
be able to play an instrument and read
 Renaissance secular music was written
for groups of solo voices and for solo
voice with accompaniment
 Word painting was common
Vocal Music
An important kind of secular vocal music
during the Renaissance was the
 A madrigal is a piece for several solo
voices set to a short poem, usually
about love
 A madrigal combines homophonic and
polyphonic textures
Vocal Music
The Renaissance madrigal originated in
Italy around 1520
 Madrigals were published by the
thousands in 16th century Italy, where
they were sung by cultivated aristocrats
 In 1588 a volume of translated Italian
madrigals was published in London
 This triggered a spurt of madrigal writing
by English composers
Vocal Music
For about 30 years there was a constant
flow of English madrigals and other
secular vocal music.
 The time of Queen Elizabeth I (15331603) and William Shakespeare (15641616) was as much a golden age in
English music as it was in English
Vocal Music
Among the finest English madrigalists
was Thomas Weelkes (about 15751623)
 He was an organist and church
 Weelkes was baptized in the little village
church of Elsted in Sussex on 25
October 1576
Vocal Music
In 1597 his first volume of madrigals was
 At the end of 1598, at the probable age of
22, Weelkes was appointed organist at
Winchester College
 During his Winchester period, Weelkes
composed a further two volumes of
madrigals (1598, 1600)
 Weelkes' fourth and final volume of
madrigals, published in 1608, carries a title
page where he refers to himself as a
Gentleman of the Chapel Royal
Vocal Music
A simpler type of secular vocal music
than the madrigal was the ballett (or fala)
 It is a dancelike song for several solo
 In contrast to most Renaissance music,
the ballett was mostly homophonic in
texture, with the melody in the highest
Vocal Music
The same music is repeated for each
stanza of the poem, and the syllables fala are used as refrain
 Like the madrigal, the Renaissance
ballett originated in Italy
 The ballett was cultivated in England
from around 1595 to the 1620s
Vocal Music
Among the most widely performed of all
balletts is one by Thomas Morely
 He lived from 1557-1603
 He was an English composer best know
for his madrigals
 Morley lived for a time in the same
parish as Shakespeare, and a
connection between the two has been
long speculated, but never proven

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