1500 - 1600
The Renaissance Period
The Renaissance was a time of discovery and it took place between 1500 and 1600. Life in Europe began to change and the daily life of the regular people changed as well. They began to enjoy more luxuries, nicer clothes, better food, and the arts. There were more craftsmen, artisans, and merchants who started becoming a middle class of people who had money, but who weren't nobles or royalty.
Even though the Church was still really important and powerful, secular (not religious) music, art and literature became important too. The Renaissance is the time of William Shakespeare, Leonardo DaVinci and those other famous (Ninja Turtle) artists Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello.
During the Renaissance composers began using more than one voice in their music. This is called "polyphonic" music. "Poly" means many and "Phonic" means sounds or voices. The most popular type of secular music was the Madrigal which was a song for 3-8 voices. Madrigals started in Italy but quickly became popular in England and France as well. They were always about a secular subject - often love. In the Church polyphonic songs were motets. They were in Latin and were always about a religious subject. The English composer Thomas Tallis wrote a motet for 40 voices!
The most popular instruments were recorders, lutes and early violins that were called "Viol da Gamba".
Visit this Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments to see and hear what they sounded like!
These videos are an overview of the Renaissance Period and a Renaissance playlist with both vocal and instrumental music.