Analysis Essay Sample: Renaissance and Baroque Periods

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Renaissance and Baroque are two distinct musical periods throughout the history of classical music. The purpose of this article is to explore the differences of the same and also delve into the history of Monteverdi. The viewed and cited YouTube clips also bring out some of the differences and similarities.

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Renaissance music was written and composed in the Renaissance era mainly in Europe when science, literature, art, science, intellect, music, and lifestyle went through a lot of changes and rebirth (Atlas, Allan W. 1998). This period lasted between 1400 C AD and 1600 C AD. Music was rather improvised and composed by various people. Music in this period was buoyant and later medieval counterpoints were later developed. Tempering and new tuning systems were developed at this period. Music in the Baroque period lasted between 1600 AD and 1750 AD (Bukofzer, Manfred F. 1947). This period came after the Renaissance period. There were a large number of genres that came up at this period such as operas, cantatas, oratorios, suites, sonatas and fugues.

Renaissance music was rather constrained than the baroque music (Brown, Howard M. 1976). Baroque music was of metrical rhythm with a variation in motion whereas Renaissance music was rather smooth and had regular rhythmic flow. Baroque music development was based on formal principles and tonal architecture while Renaissance period music was of Cantus Firmus structures and systematic point imitation. Accompaniment melody was noted during the Baroque period whereas, in the Renaissance period, music was rather imitative. The texture of music in renaissance period was mainly polyphonic whereas music in the baroque period used the figured bass with shifts between polyphonic and homophobic. Tone color in Renaissance was usually heterogeneous and homogenous as there was a choral polyphony inception in sacred music during this period. Instruments doubled up as voices. In Baroque period, there was a mixed consort of continuo-based textures i.e. there was diversity in instruments and vocal sonorities. The rhythm of music in Renaissance period was varied and less complex as it was smooth flowing with irregular quality and restless continuity. Rests and cadences were used to articulate phrases whereas in the Baroque period, the rhythm was metrical with a lot of varied motion.

Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi was born in 1567 in Milan, Italy. During childhood, he was ardently taught by Marc'Antonio Ingegneri of the Cremona Cathedral who was a cappella maestro. He learned music at the University Of Cremona, and his first musical publication was in 1582, and 1583. He is regarded as the integral transitional figure between renaissance and baroque periods since he happened to be a gambist, singer, composer and Catholic priest (Redlich, H. F. 1952). He worked vastly on Renaissance polyphony and basso continuo techniques (Ringer, Mark 2006). The earliest opera, L'Orfeo, was written by him. His works are split into the categories of madrigals, operas and church music. He is credited with the introduction of dramatic and intensely expressive elements in music. He came up with fine Vespers where he combined solos, ensembles and choral writing of one and two choirs which had a capability of having five different voices (David Poultney 1996).

Watching the two YouTube videos, one of the major differences is that the melody in Renaissance video was flowing and diatonic, and the motion was in relatively small ranges whereas, in the Baroque video, harmony was in monody with relatively short phrases which are rather effective and dramatic in terms of quality. The other difference is that there was regular and continuous motion in terms of rhythm in the baroque clip whereas in the Renaissance clip, the rhythm was flowing regularly or that of a restless continuity. The two main similarities are that in both, chords instruments were played and that trumpets were also played in both.

Works Cited

Atlas, Allan W. Renaissance Music. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998. Print.

Brown, Howard M. Music in the Renaissance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1976. Print.

Bukofzer, Manfred F. Music in the Baroque Era: From Monteverdi to Bach. New York: E. W. Norton & Company, Inc 1947. Print.

Ringer, Mark. Opera's First Master: The Musical Dramas of Claudio Monteverdi. Canada: Amadeus Press, 2006. Print.

Redlich, H. F. Claudio Monteverdi: Life and Work. London: Oxford University Press, 1952. Print.

David Poultney. Studying Music History. 2nd Edition. Prentice Hall, 1996. Print.

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