MSC 1003 - Music in Civilization

Sections meet in-person on Wednesdays (or on zoom, if necessary)
12:50-2:05 is in Vertical Campus Room 6-170
2:30-3:45 is currently zoom only 🙁
4:10-5:25 is in VC Room 12-150

Part II: Music in the Renaissance
This is the second part of our intro to the Renaissance.

Back to Part I: Intro to the Renaissance.

Assignment #11 will ask you a lot of questions about both parts.

Sacred Music in the Renaissance

A cappella vocal music in Church is still the main event in the Renaissance. I would personally guess that 80% of Renaissance music is sacred. (This is just my own made-up number, based on the music that gets performed and recorded today. My guess for the Medieval period would be more like 95% sacred.)

For fans of "early music" (= Medieval and Renaissance, plus a little Baroque) the rich vocal writing in the Renaissance is a real high point in music history. It's my personal favorite kind of choral music! In more normal times (i.e. not 2021) it is also fairly easy to hear in concert in New York City.

Let us briefly look at two groups that specialize in this sort of thing. You'll see that they have slightly different approaches to performing this music, but both are considered acceptable and correct.

First lets look at NY Polyphony performing the music of a composer named Palestrina in a church near Times Square. They do this music with one person singing each part.

Also, note how they are presenting it in the all-male format that was still very common in the Renaissance.

Here's an English group named Stile Antico singing part of a Mass by William Byrd, another late Renaissance composer. This group is putting 2-3 people on each part, and of course they have women singing the soprano and alto lines. This is also considered a legitimate way to perform Renaissance polyphony!

So really, this is a lot like the Medieval polyphony we've already heard. It's just richer, more sophisticated, and it has a new "sweet" sound to it.

The new "sweeter" sound of the Renaissance

To explain this part I'll switch to video.

Exercise #11

Exercise #11 will ask lots of questions about the Renaissance, from both part one and part two.

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