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Comparison/Contrast between Music intheRenaissance and Classical Period

Comparison/Contrastbetween Music intheRenaissance and Classical Period

Musichas enormously evolved through various eras that include baroque,medieval, renaissance, and classical among others. The evolution ofmusic has brought immense changes in ways through which songs areexpressed and incorporated in various events. This paper looks atthe similarities and differences that exist between classical periodand renaissance period music. In renaissance era, a rebirth oflearning and exploration as well as the emergency of a more personalmusic style that greatly focused on humanism occurred. Weelkes,Palestrina, and Josquin Deprez, were the leading composers duringthis era of vocal music. Classical period, on the other hand, gaverise to music that chiefly focused on balance, clarity, andstructural unit. All classical music was based on the new expressiveand dramatic approaches to composition and performance. Mozart,Beethoven, and Haydn were some of the greatest composers during thisera.


Renaissancemusic refers to European music that was well renowned between 1400and 1600. Music acquired renaissance characteristic in a gradualmanner. Research shows that renaissance music began in the early1300s to late 1470s. Development of this type of music wasenormously influenced by the rediscovery and reinterpretation of theaesthetics of ancient Roe and Greece as well as by the Italianhumanist movement. One of the most outstanding features of earlyRenaissance European art music was the increasing reliance on theinterval of the third as a consonance, which followed the medievalperiod. It started in Italy but soon spread to other parts of Europe.People had a new self-confidence that made them create a new sort ofart that was less governed and monitored by medieval ways of thinkingand the church. The new creativity’s model was found in theliterature and philosophy of Greeks as well as in the sculpture.Despite the fact that paintings during this era are full of memoriesof ancient Greece, there is nothing Greek in renaissance music.Secular or none-church and sacred or church music are the two kindsof renaissance music. Renaissance music put greater emphasis on vocalmusic than on instrumental music. Composers chiefly used wordpainting that represented a musical representation of particularemotions of human beings.

Apolyphonic setting of the Ordinary Mass was the most highly valuedworks of vocal music during this era. Dance music and transcriptionsmusic were the two chief categories of the instrumental music of theRenaissance. Various underlying musical rhythms had specific dancingstyles. Music texture changed immensely during this period due toseveral factors that included drastic change in musical focus,various inventions of religious reforms and printing, change in thestatus of various composers, and the influence of the church.Additionally, most of the musical activities shifted from the churchto the courts during the renaissance period. As a result, composersbecame more open to experimentation hence, they used musicalinstrumentation in their various compositions. Indoor events usedlouder and more brilliant sounding instruments. Recorder, cornett,and harpsichord were some of the musical instruments used during thisera. Shawm, a musical instrument, was preferred for outdoor and dancemusic.

Thechief characteristics of renaissance music

  • Harmony –concerned with the progression and flow of chords

  • It consisted of richer texture in four or more parts with the tenor part placed above the bass one

  • Its musical instruments had timbres characteristics

  • It consisted of secular music or none-religious music that incorporated many instrumental pieces as well as vocal pieces and dances

  • It also incorporated church music, some of which was accompanied by instruments

  • It was based on modes but with time accidentals crept in

  • It had a branding rather than contrasting strands in its musical texture


Classicalmusic refers to Western music that existed between 1750 and 1820. Theclassical period falls between the Romantic and Baroque periods andit signifies a period in which significant changes in musical styleand form took place. Sometimes classical music may be used to referto various styles of music that were rooted in the secular musicaland European liturgical tradition during the ninth century. Musictaste became of immense significance during the classical period.During this period, people believed that music was meant to appeal tolistener as well as gratify the sense of hearing. The new musicstyle, during classical period, made music simpler and expressive toall listeners. Reform Opera was the first trend of classical musicwhereas the second trend incorporated a change in the style of solokeyboard music. It was written between the baroque and romanticperiods.

Majorcharacteristics of classical music

  • It had a formal structure-trio sonata evolved into string quartet and concerto grosso into symphony concertante. This period also saw the emergency of symphony and modern solo concerto as well as the expansion of concerto and symphony form to become self-contained

  • Folk-like melodic style that was simple and clear

  • Homophonic style-this style is preferred over polyphony one since it has distinct thematic material. For instance Albert Bass incorporate this kind of music style

  • Orchestration-this period gave rise to the emergence of the basis of modern instrumentation and orchestration. As a result, standardization of instrumental combinations took place. There was frequent use of solo voice and flute, piano became the most significant solo instrument for classical composers, and reversion of string instruments and harpsichord occurred.

  • It incorporated a mood of music that was changeable in the same piece. Thematic dualism was an essential structural element in classic music

  • Used dynamic shading of diminuendo and crescendo. Artists paid close attention to the impacts of loud and soft music

  • It has evident clarity of phraseology its phrases are more regular and shorter. In addition, it themes are composed of short fragments that range between four to eight bar phrases

  • It has less harmonic complexity with extensive modulations that were used to achieve longer arches of release and tension. It also borrowed at least one chord from the tonic key


Indeed,music is an ever-evolving genre renaissance music proved that it waspossible to create large and new volumes of the Mass within a periodof 200 years. It further portrayed that secular songs can beincorporated into worship. On the other hand, classical music playeda key role made music simpler and directly expressive to audiencesince it made top melodic line the chief point of listening. Truly,music industry has seen enormous changes that have improvedaudiences’ and listeners’ tastes and preferences. Therefore,there is a high likelihood of more changes in the future of musicindustry.