Renaissance music

Renaissance music

The musical aesthetics of the Renaissance was developed by composers and theorists as intensively as in other forms of art. After all, as Giovanni Boccaccio believed that Dante, with his work, contributed to the return of muses and breathed life into dead poetry, just as Giorgio Vasari spoke about the revival of the arts, so Josepho Zarlino wrote in his treatise “Establishment of Harmony” (1588):

“However, whether it was insidious time or human negligence, people began to value not only music, but also other sciences. And ascended to the greatest height, she fell to the extreme low; and after an unprecedented honor was given to her, they began to consider her miserable, insignificant, and so little respected that even people, scientists hardly recognized her and did not want to give her credit. “

Already at the turn of the XIII-XIV centuries, a treatise “Music” was published in Paris by the master of music John de Groheo, in which he criticizes medieval representations of music. He wrote: “Those who are inclined to tell fairy tales said that the muses who lived near the water invented music. Others said that it was invented by saints and prophets. But Boethius, a significant and noble man, holds other views … He says in his book that the beginning of music was discovered by Pythagoras. People, as it were, sang from the very beginning, since music was naturally innate to them, as Plato and Boethius state, but the basics of singing and music were unknown until the time of Pythagoras … ”

However, with the division of music into three kinds of Boethius and his followers: world, human, instrumental music, John de Groheo disagrees, because no one has even heard the singing of angels in harmony caused by the movement of celestial bodies; “it’s not the musician’s business to interpret angelic singing, unless he will only be a theologian or a prophet.”

“So, let’s say that the music used by Parisians, apparently, can be reduced to three main sections. One section is simple, or civic (civilis) music, which we also call folk; the other is complex music (composed – composita), or regular (scientist – regularis), or canonical, which is called menzural. And the third section, which follows from the two above and in which they both combine into something better, is church music, designed to praise the creator. ”

John de Groheo was ahead of his time and had no followers. Music, like poetry and painting, acquires new qualities only in the 15th and especially in the 16th century, which is accompanied by the appearance of ever new treatises on music.

Glarean (1488 – 1563), author of the musical composition The Twelve-Runner (1547), born in Switzerland, studied at the University of Cologne at the Faculty of Art. The Master of Liberal Arts in Basel teaches poetry, music, mathematics, Greek and Latin, which speaks of the vital interests of the era. Here he became friends with Erasmus of Rotterdam.

Glarean is suitable for music, in particular church music, as artists who continued to paint and fresco in churches, that is, music, like painting, should, outside of religious didactics and reflection, give first of all pleasure, be the “mother of pleasure”.

Glarean substantiates the advantages of monodic music versus polyphony, while he speaks of two types of musicians: stanzas and symphonists: the former have a natural tendency to compose melodies, the latter to develop melodies for two, three or more voices.

Glarean, in addition to developing a theory of music, also considers the history of music, its development, as he goes, within the framework of the Renaissance, completely ignoring the music of the Middle Ages. He substantiates the idea of ​​the unity of music and poetry, instrumental performance and text. In developing the theory of music, Glarean legitimized, using twelve tones, the Aeolian and Ionian modes, thereby theoretically substantiating the concepts of major and minor.

Glarean is not limited to the development of the theory of music, but considers the work of modern composers Zhoskin Depre, Obrecht, Pierre de la Rue. He tells about Zhoskin Depre with love and enthusiasm, like Vasari about Michelangelo.

Joseffo Zarlino (1517 – 1590), whose statement we are already familiar with, entered the Franciscan Order in Venice for 20 years with her music concerts and flowering of paintings, which aroused his vocation as a musician, composer and music theorist. In 1565, he leads the chapel of St. Mark. It is believed that in the work “Establishment of Harmony”, Tsarlino in classical form expressed the basic principles of the musical aesthetics of the Renaissance.

Zarlino, who spoke of the decline of music, of course, in the Middle Ages, relies on ancient aesthetics in developing his teaching on the nature of musical harmony. “As far as music was glorified and revered sacred, the writings of philosophers and especially the Pythagoreans clearly testify, since they believed that the world was created according to musical laws, that the movement of the spheres is the cause of harmony and that our soul is built according to the same laws, awakened from songs and sounds, and they seem to have a life-giving effect on its properties. “

Zarlino is inclined to consider music the main among the liberal arts, as Leonardo da Vinci’s painting exalted. But this passion for certain types of art should not confuse us, because we are talking about harmony as a comprehensive aesthetic category.

“And if the soul of the world (as some people think) is harmony, can our soul not be the cause of all harmony in us and our body can not be connected with the soul in harmony, especially when God created man in the likeness of a larger world, called the Greeks cosmos , that is, decoration or decorated, and when he created a semblance of a smaller volume, in contrast to that called mikrokosmos, that is, a small world? It is clear that such an assumption is not without foundation. ”


At Tsarlino, Christian theology turns into an ancient aesthetic. The idea of ​​the unity of the micro- and macrocosm gives rise to another idea – the proportionality of the objective harmony of the world and the harmony of the subjective inherent in the human soul. Highlighting music as the main of the free arts, Tsarlino speaks of the unity of music and poetry, the unity of music and text, melody and word. To this is added the “history”, which anticipates or justifies the origin of the opera. And if the dance, as it happens in Paris, we will see the birth of ballet.

It is believed that it was Tsarlino who gave the aesthetic characteristics of major and minor, defining the major triad as joyful and bright, and the minor as sad and melancholic. He defines counterpoint as “a harmonious whole containing various changes in sounds or singing voices in a certain regularity of correlation and with a certain measure of time, or that it is an artificial combination of different sounds, brought to consistency”.

Joseffo Zarlino, like Titian, with whom he was associated, became widely known, was elected a member of the Venice Academy of Glory. Aesthetics clarifies the state of things in music during the Renaissance. The founder of the Venetian school of music was Adrian Villart (between 1480/90 – 1568), a Dutch native. He studied music with Tsarlino. Venetian music, like painting, was distinguished by the splendor of the sound palette, which soon acquired the features of Baroque.

In addition to the Venetian school, the largest and most influential were the Roman and Florentine. At the head of the Roman school was Giovanni Palestrina (1525 – 1594).

The community of poets, humanist scientists, musicians and music lovers in Florence is called Camerata. It was led by Vincenzo Galilee (1533 – 1591). Thinking about the unity of music and poetry, and at the same time with the theater, with acting on the stage, members of the Camerata created a new genre – opera.

The first operas are considered Daphne by J. Peri (1597) and Eurydice to the texts of Rinuccini (1600). Here the transition from a polyphonic style to a homophonic one was made. Here, for the first time, an oratorio and a cantata were sounded.

The music of the Netherlands of the XV – XVI centuries is rich in the names of the great composers, among them Zhoskin Depre (1440 – 1524), about whom Tsarlino wrote and who served at the French court, where the Franco-Flemish school was formed. It is believed that the highest achievement of Dutch musicians was the a capella choral mass, corresponding to the aspiration upwards of Gothic cathedrals.

In Germany, organ art is developing. In France, chapels were created at the court, musical festivals were held. In 1581, Henry III approved the position of “chief quartermaster of music” at court. The first “main musician” was the Italian violinist Balthazarini de Beljozzo, who staged the Queen’s comedy ballet, a performance in which for the first time music and dance were given as stage performances. So there was a court ballet.

Clement Zhaneken (c. 1475 – c. 1560), an outstanding composer of the French Renaissance, is one of the creators of the polyphonic song genre. These are 4-5-voice works, like fantasy songs. Secular polyphonic song – chanson – has spread throughout France.

In the Renaissance, instrumental music was widely developed. Among the main musical instruments are called a lute, harp, flute, oboe, trumpet, organs of various types (positives, portable), varieties of harpsichord; the violin was a folk instrument, but with the development of new stringed bow instruments such as viola, it was the violin that became one of the leading musical instruments.

If the mindset of a new era is first awakened in poetry, receives a brilliant development in architecture and painting, then music, starting with a folk song, permeates all spheres of life. Even church music is now perceived to a greater extent, like paintings by artists on biblical themes, not as something sacred, but something that gives joy and pleasure, which the composers, musicians and choirs themselves took care of.

In a word, like in poetry, in painting, in architecture, there was a turning point in the development of music, with the development of musical aesthetics and theory, with the creation of new genres, especially synthetic forms of art, like opera and ballet, which should be perceived as renaissance, transmitted centuries. Renaissance music also sounds in architecture as a harmony of parts and the whole, inscribed in nature, and in the interiors of palaces, and in the paintings in which we always see the performance, the stopped episode, when the voices are silent, and the characters all listen to the melody that sounded to us, which as if I heard ..

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