O successores (You successors), by Hildegard of Bingen
Puis qu’en oubli (Since I am Forgotten), by Guillaume de Machaut
Notre Dame Mass: Agnus Dei, by Guillaume de Machaut
Ave Maria...virgo serena (Hail Mary...Serene Virgin), by Josquin Desprez
Pope MarcellusMass: Kyrie, by Palestrina
As Vesta Was Descending,by Thomas Weelkes
Passamezzo and Galiard, by Pierre Francisque Caroubel, from Terpsichore,
by Michael Praetorius
Terms in Part II
Gregorian chant church modes drone
organum mass ordinary word painting
a cappella motet mass
II-1. MUSIC IN THE MIDDLE AGES (450-1450)
The section provides a brief overview of the medieval period (dark ages, romanesque, and gothic periods) and defines the roles of the three principal social classes of the time: nobility, peasantry, and clergy. The uses of instruments in the predominantly vocal music of the period are discussed, as is the ambivalent attitude of the church authorities toward musical instruments. The church modes are defined, and the role of Pope Gregory in chant organization is explained. The Alleluia: Vidimus stellam is presented in both modern and medieval chant notation. Hildegard of Bingen’s O successores is included as a later example of Gregorian chant. The secular music of the period is then briefly introduced. The life of the jongleur is described, as is that of the musical poet of this age of chivalry, the knight. An estampie is discussed as an example of instrumental music. The evolution of polyphony is traced from its beginnings in simple parallel organum, through the addition of contrary motion and rhythmical independence, to the complex creations of the members of the Notre Dame school, Leonin and Perotin. The ars nova in France during the fourteenth century is then briefly discussed. Machaut’s Puis qu’en oubli sui de vous is discussed within the context of the composer’s biography. After an explanation of the mass ordinary, the Agnus Dei from Machaut’s Notre Dame Mass is given as an example.
1. Discuss the prejudice inherent in the term “Middle” Ages. Can we conceive of 1,000 years of western history (thirty generations!) in which virtually nothing of significance occurred? Using the chart in the Student Workbook, try to develop a picture of medieval life. Personalities should include legendary ones, for often the students can associate with these more quickly and familiarly (assuming the associations are correct). Robin Hood, Richard, John, and the Magna Carta can be discussed briefly (and humorously too if you ask the students to tell the story, for frequently bits of Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks, Kevin Costner or Mel Brooks get mixed in), for they bring the time alive, and anchor the people and events to a specific date (1215). The medieval epics and romances (genres that will serve as the impetus for romanticism) such as the Nibelungenlied, Tristan and Isolde, Boewulf, Kalevala (Finnish), Kalevipoeg (Estonian) and heroes such as Roland, Siegfried, Ilya Mourometz, el Cid, Leminkeinen, et. al., could also be mentioned.
2. Discuss the social groupings of the Middle Ages, and then compare with present day America. Do we have a nobility and a peasantry? How does the power of the church today compare with then? (Note, for example, the many prominent clergymen in the present African American movement.) If there are social classes today, are there musical associations? (Lawrence Welk vs. the BeeGees, Pavarotti vs. Dr. Dre?)
3. The Medieval Studies Web site, , contains links for art & architecture, literature, manuscripts & historical documents, philosophy, theology, and religion. Also visit the www server for Medieval Studies, .
4. Visit the Gregorian Chant Home Page, .
A large collection of medieval and renaissance MIDI files can be found at .
5. Discuss the church modes and their use. As a basis for comparison, play the major and minor scales first, and then help the students sing several of the modes. For fun, sing one of the two songs mentioned in the text, What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor? and When Johnny Comes Marching Home. Explain that the modes can be defined by means of the white notes on the piano, and help them write the scales in their workbooks.
6. In discussing the restrictions, formulas, and sacred emphasis of the Middle Ages, consider that the pictorial arts were under similar restraints. The Byzantine icon Madonna and Child Enthroned is a perfect example of how an anonymous painter transcended the strict formal rules. As described by H. W. Janson (History of Art, Prentice Hall, 1966, p. 178), the work, although painted in the thirteenth century, “reflects a type several hundred years earlier. Echoes of the Classicism of the Second Golden Age abound: the graceful pose, the rich play of drapery folds, the tender melancholy of the Virgin’s face, the elaborate, architectural perspective of the throne (which looks rather like a miniature replica of the Colosseum). But all these elements have become oddly abstract. The throne, despite its foreshortening, no longer functions as a three-dimensional object, and the highlights on the drapery resemble ornamental sunbursts, in strange contrast to the soft shading of hands and faces. The total effect is neither flat nor spatial but transparent, somewhat like that of a stained-glass window.” Does this icon have an “otherworldly” vision comparable to the “otherworldly” sound of Gregorian chant mentioned in the text? Can further analogies be fruitfully discussed?
7. With the appropriate hardware, you can use the Online Learning Center’sChartPlayer Listening Guides in class. The structural graph highlights as the piece progresses and allows for easy navigation among the sections of the piece. The Listening Guides for vocal music display the text and translation as the piece progresses, making it easy to follow along. The commentary provides useful information about the music as it is playing, so there is no need to talk over the music. Basic terms in the commentary are highlighted and are defined as the mouse passes over them.
8. Compare the medieval chant notation of the Alleluia: Vidimus stellam, its modern transcription, and standard notation. Since there are no bar lines, how can there be rhythm? Quickly review the basic rules for pronouncing church Latin, and then ask a student to read the text. (Since some students may have difficulty reading English, we should be patient when confronting them with another language.) After following the transcribed notation, encourage the students to follow the chant notation (2:17).
9. With over twenty CDs to her credit, Hildegard of Bingen has become a major personality in early music. Her fame is deserved: a visionary, mystic, naturalist, playwright, political moralist, and woman of God, she composed a significant number of antiphons, responsories, and sequences. She also composed the earliest extant liturgical morality play, Ordo virtutum, which “predates by about two centuries any other works in this genre” (WMM, p.28; lengthy excerpt in DWM, I:38-42; the work has been recorded by Sequentia, BMG 05472-77394-2). Three of her works, with commentary by Barbara Jean Jeskalian, are included in James R. Briscoe’s Historical Anthology of Music by Women (HAMW). Three of her antiphons are available from the Hildegard Publishing Company (HPC), and the fact that the company was named after her gives some indication of her renewed stature. The text gives brief biographical details, and then provides a Vocal Music Guide with original text and English translation for the chant O successores. An amazing work for its time, it is included in the recordings (2:07). A video, Hildegard of Bingen, is available from Gateway Films/Vision Video (Worcester PA). The dramatization, set in the monastery of St. Disibod on the Rhine in central Germany, features excerpts from her writings and exquisite songs of prayer (47 minutes, color, 1994).
10. Rebecca A. Baltzer (University of Texas) highly recommends Margaret Switten’s video production of Jean Renart’s Romance of the Rose, or of Guillaume de Dole. “The video is charming, full of knights, ladies, song and dance, a tournament, and a trial by ordeal. The heroine suffers grave injustice that threatens to ruin her life, but she seizes the initiative by going to court and insisting on justice — and she has an interesting way of achieving it.” Available from Margaret Switten, Teaching Medieval Romance, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA 01075.
11. Discuss the concept of the nobility as composer-poets. How does this compare with the standard conception of the Age of Chivalry? As examples, see the trouvère virelai Or la truix and the minnelied Willekommen Mayenschein by Neidhart von Reuenthal, both included in Parrish and Ohl’s Masterpieces of Music Before 1750. Both pieces are quite short. The brief passing mention of Beatriz de Dia is another opportunity for bringing in the role of women in music. Information is scant, but her portrait and her song A chanter m’er de so, the only surviving example of a troubadour song composed by a woman, are included in WMM, pp. 48-49 (see also HAMW, pp. 11-13 and NAWM I:41-42). Considering that half your class is probably female, the poem, contrasted with the typical male themes, should make for a lively discussion.
12. Recorded examples and illustrations of medieval instruments can be found in David Munrow’s Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Angel SBZ-3810) with the Early Music Consort of London. The book contained in the record set has many illustrations, which should be used while the recording is played. See also Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Vanguard 71219/20) by the Musica Reservata of London, or any number of CDs listed under “Early Music” in the Schwann Opus guide. Comparisons can be made, both favorable and unfavorable, with modern instruments.
13. Discuss the importance of dancing to the nobility, and the use of music for accompaniment. Possibly some of the students have had experiences with country or square dancing they can share. Have the students ever seen, heard, or danced to music provided by only one or two musicians? Play the estampie and review the above comments (1:15). Is it danceable? What element of music is most important for dancing? Must there be harmony?
14. Review texture by asking the class to sing a familiar song (America, Mary Had a Little Lamb, etc.) in unison. Discuss the natural division of voices, and the perfect intervals (octaves between sexes, fourths and fifths between registers S, A, T, B). Introduce parallel organum, and ask them to sing the song again, this time concentrating on the organum, or use the examples of parallel organum found in HAM (I, 25; recording MHS OR-350).
15. Discuss Machaut’s career as priest, secretary, courtier, and church official, as described in the text. If you wish to relate this to modern times, how does his career compare with that of today’s “serious” composer? In what sense has the university replaced the court and cathedral as a patron of music? How does a priest come to write a love song?
16. Discuss the importance of the Mass in the Roman Catholic church, and its various sections (see research project in the workbook). Point out the sections of the mass ordinary, and the importance of Machaut’s setting as the first polyphonic treatment by a known composer. Draw attention to the Agnus Dei, as discussed in the text, then play the work (3:03; music in NAWM).
17. This chapter’s Performance Perspective focuses on the issue of historically-informed performance. This would be a good time to broach that subject with students, encouraging to listen to each recording—not just each piece—critically. Play for them another recording of Machaut’s Mass that uses a larger ensemble, and invite students to express their own opinions. You might also explain to students that performing works on historically-accurate instruments or with historically-informed vocal techniques is not an end in itself, but very often reveals aspects of a musical work that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Questions and Topics
1. What was the attitude of the church toward the use of musical instruments?
2. Describe the musical life of a major cathedral.
3. The workbook has an exercise (chart) to help develop a feeling for medieval life and counteract the prejudice inherent in the term Middle Ages.
4. What are the characteristics of Gregorian chant?
5. How are the church modes different from the major and minor scales?
6. The workbook has an exercise on building the four authentic church modes and the two sixteenth-century additions.
7. What is the general structure and character of the chant Alleluia: Vidimus stellam?
8. The liturgy of the Roman Catholic church.
9. Music in the Roman Catholic church today.
10. How authentic is the portrayal of the song contest in Wagner’s Tannhäuser?
11. Compare the rhythm of Gregorian chant with that of trouvère songs.
12. Instrumental accompaniment in the troubadour-trouvère repertory.
13. Trace the evolution of organum from its simplest to its most complex style.
14. Describe the rhythmic innovations of the Notre Dame composers.
15. Describe the career of Guillaume de Machaut.
16. How does Machaut’s career as secretary, courtier, and church official compare with that of today’s “serious” composer?
17. Discuss the rhythmic innovations of the “New Art.”
18. Describe the form and stylistic characteristics of Machaut’s Notre Dame Mass.
19. The workbook has an exercise to identify musical settings within the mass.
20. Musicians at court in the fourteenth century.
II-2. MUSIC IN THE RENAISSANCE (1450-1600)
This section describes the European Renaissance as a period of exploration and humanism and as a time when the Protestant Reformation greatly weakened the dominance of the Catholic church. It was a period that saw the invention of printing and the idealization of the “universal man,” among whose attributes was proficiency in music. The music of the period, predominantly a cappella vocal music, is characterized by word-painting, polyphonic texture, and gently-flowing rhythm. The two important forms of Renaissance sacred vocal music, the motet and the mass, are described and illustrated, respectively, by Josquin’s Ave Maria . . . Virgo Serena and the Kyrie of Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass. The madrigal is then discussed, with Thomas Weelkes’s As Vesta Was Descending as an example. The development of instrumental music as a genre independent of vocal music is outlined. Some of the most important Renaissance instruments are described, and the distinction made between loud (haut) and soft (bas) instruments. The section ends with a discussion of dance music, with a passamezzo and galliard from Praetorius’s Terpsichore as examples.
1. Gunpowder, the compass, and the invention of moveable type have been credited as some major factors in bringing about the Renaissance. Through student responses, discuss life before and after each, and their effectiveness for change. The end of feudalism through gunpowder (as demonstrated by the battles of Agincourt and Crecy), the ability to navigate more securely when out of sight of land, and the possibility of mass production of books are only a few of the many points to consider. (Imagine the effect on education if each student had to copy the text by hand before commencing the course?) The text stresses the importance of the “cultures of ancient Greece and Rome” in the emergence of Renaissance humanism. Just how were the literary masterpieces transmitted from the ancient world to Renaissance Europe? Since only the clergy were literate during the Middle Ages, were these pagan manuscripts preserved, copied, and translated by monks, or is there another explanation (old manuscripts still preserved, translations from Arabic copies, etc.)? What do we mean by the Greek and Latin classics? Is a classic really “a book everyone talks about but nobody reads”? The workbook has two exercises, one to continue the chart of personalities and significant events made when discussing the medieval period, the other to review differences between the two periods. Either or both can be assigned for homework, or used in class concurrent with discussion. See also the video cassette The Flowering of Harmony, program 2 in The Music of Man series (Home Vision MUS09).
2. Discuss the statement in the text that “every educated person was expected to be trained in music.” Can the students name other personalities of the past and present who were also competent musicians, proving that this attitude toward music did not hold for the Renaissance alone? (Jefferson, Franklin, Hopkinson, Truman, and Clinton are some examples just from American history.) How many students sing or play instruments regularly? Has the stereo or TV replaced live music in the American home? How many students feel that an educated person today should be able to perform musically? (You might wish to give a commercial at this point for any opportunities for instrumental instruction available at your school, such as group classes, ensembles for beginning and intermediate instrumentalists, community orchestras, bands, or choruses, Suzuki programs in which the parent learns along with the child, etc.)
3. Using Shakespeare as an example of a major personality of the Renaissance, discuss the use of music as an integral part of his plays. To what extent does he assume an audience knowledgeable in music in order for his words to be understood and appreciated? The New York Consort of Viols’ recording The Sweet Power of Musick (MHS 4123) has a delightful selection of quotations and musical examples, including the quotation in the text, followed by an Alman by Thomas Tomkins.
4. In discussing the general characteristics of the period, consider the illustrations in the text:
Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510). There are several interpretations of the allegorical meaning of this Florentine master’s La Primavera (Spring). One suggests it is a neo-Platonic depiction of the progressive sublimation of sensual love in intellectual contemplation. The cycle, based on classical literature, begins on the right, where Zephyrus, the West Wind, pursues and seizes Chloris, the nymph who will be transformed into Flora, the mother of flowers. The transformation is achieved through the mediation of Eros and Venus. The Three Graces, an ancient symbol of liberality (Aglaia who gives, Euphrosyne who receives, Thalia who returns), are at the center. This trio, in the Platonic sense, alludes to the relationship between divine and human elements. Mercury is seen on the left dispersing clouds, marking the spiritual moment of contemplation.
Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520). Considered the central painter of the High Renaissance, Raphael created an art “at once lyric and dramatic, pictorially rich and sculpturally solid.” The meditative calm of his Madonna del Granduca (c.1505) reflects the style of his teacher, Perugino. In Raphael’s The School of Athens (1510-11), found in the Stanza della Segnatura, one of the rooms in the papal apartments in the Vatican, Plato, painted in the likeness of Leonardo da Vinci, discourses with Aristotle. According to Gardner’s Art Through the Ages (5th ed., New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1970, p. 463), the mural is “a complete statement of the High Renaissance in its artistic form and spiritual meaning. . . . The setting is not a ‘school’ but rather a concourse of the great philosophers and scientists of the ancient world, who now, rediscovered by the Renaissance, hold a convention, where they teach one another once more and inspire a new age. In a vast hall covered by massive vaults that recall Roman architecture and predict the look of the new St. Peter’s, the figures are ingeniously arranged around the central pair, Plato and Aristotle. On Plato’s side are the ancient philosophers concerned with ultimate mysteries that transcend this world; on Aristotle’s side are the philosophers and scientists concerned with nature and the affairs of men.”
5. For more on the art and culture of the Italian Renaissance with links to many other sites, visit . The WebMuseum, in its Famous Paintings exhibit, has art work suitable for classroom display at . Consider doing your own Web search for additional resources of interest.
6. The workbook contains an exercise for comparing medieval and Renaissance styles. Choose any three compositions, and see if the students can correctly identify the styles of each after hearing. Be sure to identify the compositions when completed, in the hope they may wish to hear other examples.
7. Using the structural graphs in the ChartPlayer will greatly help the students understand the various concepts and textural layers of the music as it progresses.
8. Play as much of Josquin’s Ave Maria as you have score in the text. Can the students identify the imitation, and separate the octaves from the unison? (Reactions will vary, depending on the amount of polyphonic music covered previously.) Quickly review the basic rules for pronouncing church Latin, and then ask a student to read part of the text. Play the selection again, this time continuing (4:43). Can the words be understood, and is the pronunciation correct? To what extent does stepwise motion predominate over the use of skips? Are there any instances of word painting? (Note the vocal music guide reference to “increased rhythmic animation” to reflect “new joy.”)
9. Kirin Nielsen (University of Illinois-Urbana) recommends the video Out of the Darkness for its contextual survey of a 150-year period from the return of the papacy from Avignon until Palestrina, and its excellent performances of motets, madrigals, and mass excerpts by Dufay, Josquin, Marenzio (one piece played on consort of viols, another sung by vocal ensemble) in historical locations. The film closes with a portion of Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass by the Sistine Chapel Choir performing before the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica (Man & Music, FfH&S ANE1767, 53 minutes, color).
10. Discuss the complaints of Erasmus and the Council of Trent regarding church music. Assuming the students are unfamiliar with any music of this period other than what has been discussed in class (Machaut, Josquin, etc.), how can these complaints be justified? (The “Geneva Jigs” of the Protestants, for example.) Are these same complaints being voiced today against the use of folk and rock music in church services? How did Palestrina meet the challenge? Discuss his role as church composer, illustrating your discussion with the Kyrie included in the text (basic set, 4:42).
11. Relating it to Morley’s quotation in the text, present Weelkes’s madrigal as if one were finishing supper and the part books were brought out. A first playing of the madrigal would give the students a general familiarity with a cappella singing in English, the plot of the text, the polyphonic texture, and an appreciation of the skill demanded from the educated person of the time. The various word-paintings could then be discussed and illustrated, followed by a second playing for full comprehension (2:53; music in NS and in E. H. Fellowes, English Madrigal School, vol. 22)
12. Arto Wikla’s Music Page at has extensive early music links. The Renaissance Consort site, , has pictures and sound files for most Renaissance instruments. Use one of the large music resources sites as a beginning point for further exploration.
13. Margaret Hasselman (Virginia Polytechnic Institute) recommends the video The Golden Age for its one-to-a-part performances of madrigals in gorgeous intimate settings, and selections with excellent closeups of musical instruments showing action and details without technical commentary. The video deals mainly with music of the age of Elizabeth I of England, and includes Weelkes’s “As Vesta was Descending” discussed in the text. It also has selections by Morley, Marenzio, Dowland, Byrd, Bull, Gibbons, Caccini, Monteverdi, Adson, Lully, and Purcell (Music in Time, FfH&S ANE718, 60 minutes, color).
14. The workbook has a research project devoted to some of the more important Renaissance instruments. It would help if you could provide illustrations of some of the instruments listed, along with recordings to illustrate the timbres. The recordings mentioned in section II-1.12 above can serve here as well.
In the project, the students are asked to classify each of the following Renaissance instruments according to the correct family grouping, and identify the specific characteristics that distinguish it from the other members of the same family (many, but not all, of the answers are given in the text):
Bagpipe woodwind: double-reed instrument with chanter and one or two drones
Cornett brass: wooden instrument with cup-shaped mouthpiece
Crumhorn woodwind: family of double-reed instruments with characteristic “J” shape
Curtal woodwind: double-reed precursor of the bassoon
Fiddle string: medieval bowed string instrument with front or rear pegs
Lute string: plucked string instrument with a body shaped like half a pear
Mandora string: small lute with 4 or 5 strings
Pipe and tabor wind: 3-holed pipe with percussion: a small drum played by one performer
Regal keyboard: small portable organ with reed pipes
Sackbut brass: family of early trombones
Serpent brass: bass cornett in serpentine form
Shawm woodwind: double-reed ancestor of the oboe
Theorbo, (or archlute) string: bass lute
Viol string: family of bowed string instruments with 6 strings
To illustrate the sound of the lute, archlute, and baroque guitar, consider Ancient Airs and Dances (Hyperion CDA66228). It contains the original lute pieces, songs and dances used by Respighi in his suites of Ancient Airs and Dances.
15. The text states “a wealth of dance music published during the sixteenth century has come down to us” and introduces the concept of paired dances, with a passamezzo and a galliard by Pierre Francisque Caroubel as examples. While delightful works to listen to, as the text suggests, it would be more interesting and relevant to see some Renaissance dances performed. An excellent video cassette, Le Gratie d’Amore: European Court Dance of the Late Renaissance, contains performances of dances from Thoinot Arbeau’s Orchesography, Fabritio Caroso’s Il Ballarino and Nobiltà di Dame, and Cesare Negri’s Le Gratie d’Amore (available from the Historical Dance Foundation, 31 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003). See also the Renaissance Dance Archive at .
16. The workbook has a research project that asks the students to listen to some of the popular Renaissance dances and to identify the character, purpose (if any), tempo, meter, and basic rhythmic pattern of each. The following dances are suggested: allemande, basse danse, branle, canario, courante, galliard, pavane, saltarello, sarabande, tourdion, and volta. Since many dances changed over time, the project can be difficult. The “slow and solemn” sarabande, for example, began as a wildly exotic lascivious fast dance. There are many varieties of bransles and basse danses. Some had national differences, such as the courante, which was slow in France, but fast in Italy. The project is intended to appeal to those students who are interested in dance, and hopefully they will be intrigued by the many varieties of Renaissance dance.
To the nobility, and the lower classes who emulated them and tried to raise their status, dancing was much more than an entertainment. A measure of social worth and noble standing, a man proved himself a gentleman or not by the way he danced. A person who could not dance well could easily be laughed out of court, and find all turned against him or her.
In exploring some of these dances, consider making the experience more enjoyable, and unquestionably more effective in bringing the topic to life, if some Renaissance dances could be danced. While time will probably not permit illustrating all of them in class, there may be some dance majors who would be interested in explaining this fascinating subject further, and helping in the demonstration. Even without such help, some simple dances could be attempted in class. A classroom with movable chairs could easily provide sufficient space for one or more couples, perhaps even the whole class. Ursula Rempel (The University of Manitoba) teaches the dances to her students, and always has willing and eager participants. Whenever possible, she uses musicians from one of her early music consorts to provide live music, experiences beneficial to dancers and musicians alike. For the benefit of others interested in providing these exciting activities to their students, she has published A Renaissance Banquet: Music and Dance for Recorders and Orff Instruments (arranged by Ursula M. Rempel and Carolyn Ritchey Kunzman, Schott SMC 555). Complete with music and dance instructions, this delightful “banquet” includes bransles and other Renaissance dances by Arbeau, Susato, Gervaise, Moderne, and Phalèse. Other resources include the recording May I have the Pleasure? (TWR-771-2, Towne Waytes Society, Vancouver, Canada) which has the music and a small booklet with instructions for each dance. Excellent danceable renditions of music from the collections of Caroso, Negri, Phalèse, and Gervaise may be found on Renaissonic’s CD Dance! (Titanic 232). Other records you might explore are Gothic and Renaissance Dances (MHS 761), Dance Music Through the Ages (Archiv 2723051, CD439964-2), Non-Stop Dancing 1600 (DGG Privilege 2538 348), and Dance Music of the Renaissance (Victrola VICS-1328). Some popular basse danses, bransles, pavanes, allemandes, and tourdions may be found on the recording French Dances of the Renaissance (Nonesuch H-71036). There are many CDs now available, including Dance Music of the High Renaissance (Praetorius, Widmann and Schein, Boston Skyline BSD 118), Il Ballarino (music from Italian dance treatises, including Caroso and Negri, Hyperion 66244; instruction booklet available from the Dolmetsch Society), Danserye 1551 (Susato, Hungaroton HCD 12194), and 16th Century Italian & French Dance Music (Boston Skyline BSD 123). Thoinot Arbeau’s Orchésographie, one of the major sources of Renaissance dance music, is beautifully brought to life in the New York Renaissance Band’s Arbeau: Orchésographie (Arabesque Z6514) and The Broadside Band’s Danses populaires françaises (Harmonia Mundi 901152). Historical background, music, and full descriptions (including Labanotation) may be found in the excellent little publication by the Dance Notation Bureau of Ingrid Brainard’s Three Court Dances of the Early Renaissance.
17. The workbook has a listening exercise on comparing two performances of the same Renaissance composition with different instrumentations, or with period and modern instruments.
Questions and Topics
1. The workbook has two exercises, one to continue the chart of personalities and significant events made when discussing the medieval period, the other to review differences between the two periods.
2. What was the movement called humanism? How did it originate, and what were its main characteristics? (Are the major personalities included in the chart in the student’s workbook?)
3. How many modern students are “educated” in the Renaissance sense of (among other skills) being able to play an instrument and read musical notation?
4. Was life for professional musicians in the Renaissance different from the Middle Ages?
5. Shakespeare and music.
6. The workbook has an exercise to help develop listening skills, comparing medieval and Renaissance styles.
7. Flemish composers in Renaissance Europe.
8. Word-painting in Renaissance vocal music.
9. What are the basic elements of Josquin’s technique?
10. How does the career of Josquin Desprez reflect the life of a musician in the Renaissance?
11. The secular vocal music of Josquin Desprez.
12. What are the characteristics of the Renaissance madrigal?
13. Similarities and differences in the madrigal and the motet.
14. Compare the number and variety of Renaissance instruments to those in use today.
15. The workbook has a research project to help classify and identify specific characteristics of some important Renaissance instruments.
16. Humor and earthiness in the English madrigal.
17. The dances of the Renaissance and their music.
Suggested Supplements for Part II
Many resources have been mentioned above. Below is a brief list of additional supplements you may wish to consult, all currently available on DVD or VHS.
Hildegard von Bingen - In Portrait: Ordo Virtutum, Vox Animae, Patricia Routledge (Naxos)
How to Dance Through Time, Vol. III. - The Majesty of Renaissance Dance (Brickman)