Medieval and renaissance instruments

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence. The motet was preserved in the transition from medieval to Renaissance musicbut the character of the composition was entirely changed. While it grew out of the medieval isorhythmic motet, the Renaissance composers of the motet generally abandoned the use of a repeated figure as a cantus firmus.

Medieval and renaissance instruments

The instruments of Renaissance music Musical instruments have been in use for millennia, but their place in the music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance was often sharply defined and restricted.

Because of this view, sacred music was predominantly vocal music. Instrumental music already had a long history, and in some cultures was at least Medieval and renaissance instruments important as vocal music, but popular instrumental music especially suffered from being regarded as "pagan".

Inasmuch as many folk tunes likely predate the spread of Christianity, this was not an unreasonable view. During the Middle Ages, instrumental music was most often an accompaniment: Only toward the end of the Renaissance did instrumental music "for its own sake" become common, and even the people of that era might have been astonished at the crowds attending concerts in the age of Beethoven or even Mozart.

Music in the early Middle Ages was largely monophonic. When several instruments played together, they probably took turns, or else played in unison or in octaves. As polyphony developed, so did the idea of a musical ensemble: Especially among the wind instruments, there were two types of ensembles, loud haut and soft basthe French terms referring to the volume, rather than the pitch as they do today.

The basic loud instrument was the shawm even today, people characterize them as loudand the group also included dulcians, sackbuts, tabor pipes, and trumpets. Loud instruments were seldom played indoors except in large halls. Soft instruments, such as recorders, crumhorns, and racketts, were ordinarily played indoors.

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Cornettos, flutes, and serpents could play with either loud or soft ensembles. In fact, there are more recorders in existence now than in all of history prior tobecause of a revival of the instrument in the early part of this century and its widespread use in schools.

Like many instruments of the time, recorders came in various sizes, to match different "voices" of part-music which began as vocal music. Modern recorders come in soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, as well as less common sizes above soprano and below bass, but all of them are pitched an octave above the corresponding range of the human voice so that a tenor recorder plays the same notes as a soprano singer.

This is because recorders have fewer harmonics than many other wind instruments, and so sound lower. The Recorder Home pageby Nicholas Lander of West Australia, is the basic source on the web for information about recorders.

The tabor pipe is similar to a recorder, but has only three holes for the fingers of one hand. It is played at the same time as the tabor, a small drum, in an early version of the "one-man band". Because tabor pipes are played by taking advantage of higher harmonics, their sound is very shrill.

These instruments are featured at Pipe and Tabor, The Morris Instrument Another common Renaissance instrument was the flute - not the metal keyed flute of today, but a wooden flute with no keys, or sometimes a key for the lowest note.

The modern instrument most like the Renaissance flute is the Irish wooden flute.

Music of the MediƦval and Renaissance

Another flute-like instrument, unchanged from the Renaissance, is the fife. Reed instruments Most of the reed instruments of the Renaissance were of the double-reed type, like the modern oboe, rather than the single-reed, like the modern clarinet.

Medieval and renaissance instruments

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Instruments Used in Renaissance Music. The Concert, Gerard van Honthorst, Introduction. Medieval instruments in Europe had most commonly been used singly, often self accompanied with a drone, or occasionally in parts. Learn more about the texture of Medieval and Renaissance music and the instruments that dominated compositions from this time.

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