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The Renaissance

I always thought the Renaissance to be a particularly interesting era. It always stood out as that one era of incredible whimsical arts along with new technological advancements, yet was still under the ruling of religion and divine belief. It’s sort of a weird child between the Middle Ages and the enlightenment. That’s why I think the most interesting thing about this era is how different people were and what they created. I’d imagine the people of this era to be artists, scientists, and musicians, but still under the confides of religion and the clergy. I always imagined this era to be one where everyone started to have different ideas, and just made/discover things that showed how different they are. From the paintings painted, to the new music composed, to new sciences discovered. 

From what I already know, this period is one of expression, but through work/passion rather than words. Since religion still played a really powerful role in governing people, many weren’t able to truly express themselves without consequences from the clergy. With scientists like Galileo discovering that they weren’t at the center of the universe or homosexuals being ostracized, society as a whole was going through a weird transformation, or being reborn. It’s supposed to be an era when people focused more on people, and started to turn away from the divine. 

The textbook describes the music during this era to “embody ideals of balance, clarity, and emotional restraint that characterize the classicism of the Greeks”. The textbook also describes the music of this era as secular and sacred. This era consisted mostly of vocals as the primary form of music and instrumental as secondary. The music sounds very similar to the church hymns during the Middle Ages, and the harmonizing of the singers are meant to have an angelic effect. In addition, much of the music created was still funded by royalty or the elite. 

I listened to two pieces from William Byrd (1543-1623), “O Lord turn thy Wrath” and “Teach me,O Lord”. The music definitely sounds like what I expected from this era. Like I expected there weren’t many instrumentals and most of the music was sung by a group of singers. From an untrained ear one would also definitely think this would be something played in a church, and for the most part many of this era’s music were still produced in churches. So the examples I heard from Byrd definitely fit the mold of what I thought renaissance music would sound like. 

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June 2024

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