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Thread: Renaissance or classical - which era had more "great" composers?

  1. #16
    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Josquin and Gesualdo are 100 years apart

    And the all the devil in music stuff about the tritone was from 18th century sources. It was treated carefully in Renaissance polyphony but the church did not ban it

    by the epoch of Perotin and his successors, while the tritone was typically classified in the 13th century as a "perfect discord" (along with m2 and M7), it nevertheless occurs, as do these intervals, quite frequently and prominently in practice.

    Writing his retrospective exposition and defense of 13th-century style (by now the Ars Antiqua or "Ancient Art"), Jacobus includes the tritone (i.e. augmented fourth equal to precisely three 9:8 whole-tones, or 729:512, e.g. f-b) as one of the 13 basic intervals, and also proposes as a distinct 14th interval the "semitritonus" or diminished fifth of 1024:729, which he finds somewhat less discordant. Note, by the way, that these are not equal intervals in Pythagorean tuning, and that the diminished fifth (about 588 cents, 588/1200 octave) is smaller than the augmented fourth (about 612 cents -- as opposed to the even 600 cents for both intervals in the 12-tone equally tempered scale).

    He says that although rare, these intervals do occur in the ecclesiastical chants; and granted that they are discordant and difficult to sing, nevertheless their theory is interesting and beautiful. He views these intervals as difficult in practice, but neither unknown nor apparently as "diabolical."[5]

    In 1357, Johannes Boen -- thanks to Jason Stoessel for leading me to this source! -- classifies the tritone as a consonantia per accidens, that is, as a "consonance by circumstance." Specifically, he finds either the tritone or the diminished fourth acceptable when it is accompanied by a lower minor third, e.g. e-g-c#, and likewise for the diminished fourth d-f#-bb. The perfect fourth is likewise in this category of "situational consonance" (to use a modern expression) when accompanied by an octave and lower fifth, e.g. d-a-d'.[6]

    Again, the tritone, far from being viewed as "diabolic," is treated as an interval which can be pleasing and even "consonant" in the right context.

    Indeed, there are many 13th-century cadences where the tritone serves basically as a "counterfeit fourth or fifth," and Boen suggests that similar progressions may sometimes have occurred in the 14th century as well. In 13th-century practice, the tritonic fourth or fifth typically behaves much like a concordant fourth or fifth, often moving to a (nontritonic) fourth or fifth by parallel motion while other intervals resolve by directed contrary motion
    by 1558, Zarlino notes that while the diminished fifth is itself a "nonharmonic relation," it is pleasing as a simultaneous interval if resolved to the ditone (M3), and indeed that this dissonance may be sounded "in a single percussion" -- that is, in note-against-note, unlike the second and seventh which require a more caution treatment as ornamental tones or suspension dissonances. Likewise the augmented fourth is admitted if it resolves to the minor sixth.[7]

    Zarlino takes such progressions as characteristic of both "moderns," and "older" composers, which might be translated to refer both to the Josquin generation and thereabouts, and to this theorist's model Willaert and others of his own epoch.[8]

    In fact, tritone resolutions take place in one of the most characteristic internal cadences of this period, which may also occasionally occur as a final cadence, e.g.

    c'' b'
    f#' g'
    c' d'
    a g

    m10-M10
    M6 - 8
    m3 - 5

    (M6-8 + m3-5 + d5-M3)
    Note that the lower three voices alone, interestingly, would make a typical 13th-century or early 15th-century cadence moving to a stable fifth and octave; but the new triadic harmony of the Renaissance makes the new d5-M3 resolution approved by Zarlino a primary cadential event in its own right, leading to what this theorist calls harmonia perfetta, with a third-plus-fifth-or-sixth above the bass, and what Johannes Lippius (1610, 1612) will soon call a complete "triad."

    Thus the tritone comes into play as an essential cadential ingredient and is recognized as such by Zarlino well before this interval is combined with the bold use of the seventh (espoused by Vicenzo Galilei in the 1580's, and implemented by Monteverdi and Gesualdo, among others, in the following decade or so).

    In fact, when Giovanni Maria Artusi condemns Monteverdi's new treatment of the seventh in his famous polemic of 1600 on The Imperfections of Modern Music, he faults this composer not for using the tritone, but for using it in a way other than that taught by good authority -- including Artusi himself, in his handbook on counterpoint![9]

    While orthodox 16th-century practice and theory included a place for the tritone, Zarlino's more radical contemporary Nicola Vicentino (1511-c. 1572) was ready to go further, advocating the use of even the direct melodic leap of a tritone in his treatise on Ancient Music Adapted to Modern Practice (1555). "Although troublesome to sing, this interval is indispensable whenever the words require a marvelous effect, for by nature it is vivacious and shows great force when ascending, and when descending it makes a very funereal and sad effect.... Some singers do not hesitate to practice it. After all, with continual usage every difficult thing becomes easy in all professions..."[10]

    Thus whatever may be the case with the diabolus in musica tradition, it didn't prevent composers from using this interval, nor theorists from endorsing this practice.
    http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/harmony/tritone.html

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    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    Josquin and Gesualdo are 100 years apart

    And the all the devil in music stuff about the tritone was from 18th century sources. It was treated carefully in Renaissance polyphony but the church did not ban it





    http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/harmony/tritone.html
    Thanks for that. So it wasn`t technically banned. But then polyphony was according to this. So i found out you couldn`t go above the interval of the 4th.

    https://world.regent-college.edu/art...al-reformation
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Member infracave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    Thanks for that. So it wasn`t technically banned. But then polyphony was according to this. So i found out you couldn`t go above the interval of the 4th.

    https://world.regent-college.edu/art...al-reformation
    I haven't found any mention of the 4th in the link you posted.
    The closest thing I can remember are the rules for good voice leading from Fux qho instructs that no leap should be greater than a 6th (if I remember correctly).

    Also, the catholic church didn't have a real official stance on music before the council of Trent, I think.

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    You've got to be very careful with all of this. Different groups of monks had different ideas; the cathedrals had a lot of clout and were independent minded and were very able to ignore Rome. It would be wrong to get the impression of a top down quasi military management structure with the pope as the general in chief; it would be equally wrong to think of the church as a homogeneous entity, all singing from the same hymn sheet about these matters.

    And "these matters" are important because singing gets bums on seats and sponsors in cathedrals, which were large operations with important turnovers and serious payrolls to find at the end of each month, with expensive ambitions about buildings etc.

    And last but by no means least, the music as written doesn't show the musica ficta. Neither does it often show chords aligned underneath each other like a score by Chopin. So making inferences about things like intervals is not for amateurs.

    But this is a digression really. My original point, which as far as I can see has not been seriously challenged, is that the renaissance was much much longer than the flourishing of classical style, and it was much much more fundamental, and hence more likely to attract great minds. Which explains quite a lot really.
    Last edited by Mandryka; May-14-2019 at 18:07.

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    The number of greats, though possibly interesting, is a less relevant question than: "Do you like Renaissance music as much as or better than Classical era music, or vice versa?"

  8. #22
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by infracave View Post
    I haven't found any mention of the 4th in the link you posted.
    The closest thing I can remember are the rules for good voice leading from Fux qho instructs that no leap should be greater than a 6th (if I remember correctly).

    Also, the catholic church didn't have a real official stance on music before the council of Trent, I think.
    The 4th max. was at another site.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    You've got to be very careful with all of this. Different groups of monks had different ideas; the cathedrals had a lot of clout and were independent minded and were very able to ignore Rome. It would be wrong to get the impression of a top down quasi military management structure with the pope as the general in chief; it would be equally wrong to think of the church as a homogeneous entity, all singing from the same hymn sheet about these matters.

    And "these matters" are important because singing gets bums on seats and sponsors in cathedrals, which were large operations with important turnovers and serious payrolls to find at the end of each month, with expensive ambitions about buildings etc.

    And last but by no means least, the music as written doesn't show the musica ficta. Neither does it often show chords aligned underneath each other like a score by Chopin. So making inferences about things like intervals is not for amateurs.

    But this is a digression really. My original point, which as far as I can see has not been seriously challenged, is that the renaissance was much much longer than the flourishing of classical style, and it was much much more fundamental, and hence more likely to attract great minds. Which explains quite a lot really.
    More fundamental, or more limited? If it was so great, wouldn't great minds after the period still want to stick with that style?
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; May-14-2019 at 22:31.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member RICK RIEKERT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Maybe Classical is just a style in music, styles come and go with the wind, they're a sort of decoration. The renaissance was a weltanschauung, much much more fundamental, a radical way of perceiving the universe, so it's not surprising it lasted longer and attracted greater minds.
    If one looks at the Renaissance as a world view then I think you have to compare it not with the classical style in music but with the intellectual climate of which that style was a part, namely the so-called Age of Enlightenment, which was also a humanist movement with a radical way of perceiving man's place in society, which advocated freedom, democracy and reason as the primary values of society. It started from the standpoint that men's minds should be freed from ignorance, from superstition and from the arbitrary powers of the State, in order to allow mankind to achieve progress and perfection. Although great artists and thinkers abounded in all fields, philosophers such as Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Montesquieu wrote of the value of the common person and the power of human reasoning in overcoming the problems of the world. This revolution in thinking inevitably led to conflict between the old order and new ideas.

    The musical scene in the classical period reflected the changes occurring in the society in which the music was being written. This was the first era in music history in which public concerts became an important part of the musical scene. Music was still being composed for the church and the court, but the advent of public concerts reflected the new view that music should be written for the enjoyment and entertainment of the common person. A new form of opera, comic opera, championed middle-class values and became a powerful vehicle for social reform. It could also be argued that more extensive and varied thinking in the new age of reason liberated composers from previous conventions and emboldened them to innovate with new forms, new harmonies, and new rhythms, the effects of which have been heard for generations.

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    Thanks Rick,

    Let me ask a really basic question. Let’s just think of style.

    What are the essential differences between renaissance style and classical style?
    Last edited by Mandryka; May-15-2019 at 04:54.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by infracave View Post
    I haven't found any mention of the 4th in the link you posted.
    The closest thing I can remember are the rules for good voice leading from Fux qho instructs that no leap should be greater than a 6th (if I remember correctly).

    Also, the catholic church didn't have a real official stance on music before the council of Trent, I think.
    I think I remember Zarlino saying a minor 6th was the outer limit, if the voice moved contrary to the leap by step afterward(?) Anyway, that was much earlier (1558).

    The Church had various stances on music before the Council of Trent, especially early on, when the chant repertoire was being standardized and notated for the first time. It apparently required travel of experts from one monastery or bishopric to another for dissemination of the standardized chant and for transcription of performances. This is all vague in my head but I think accurate.

    What greater comfort does time afford than the objects of terror re-encountered and their fraudulence exposed in the flash of reason?
    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

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    Senior Member RICK RIEKERT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Thanks Rick,

    Let me ask a really basic question. Let’s just think of style.

    What are the essential differences between renaissance style and classical style?
    My good man, there needs no member come from cyberspace to tell you this. A functioning ear along with a good textbook or website will do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RICK RIEKERT View Post
    My good man, there needs no member come from cyberspace to tell you this. A functioning ear along with a good textbook or website will do.
    I have this little idea brewing, that at some level of abstraction, they are very similar. That's to say gothic pairs with baroque; renaissance pairs with classical.

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    Member infracave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    I think I remember Zarlino saying a minor 6th was the outer limit, if the voice moved contrary to the leap by step afterward(?) Anyway, that was much earlier (1558).

    The Church had various stances on music before the Council of Trent, especially early on, when the chant repertoire was being standardized and notated for the first time. It apparently required travel of experts from one monastery or bishopric to another for dissemination of the standardized chant and for transcription of performances. This is all vague in my head but I think accurate.
    Well, I think the chant repertoire was "standardized" for the first time under Charlemagne, giving birth to what we know as gregorian chant.

    I don't think, however, that there has been any coercitive measures employed by the Church. That is before Trent and the infamous Index.
    Anyways, if you have some references on the subject off the top of your head, i'd be interested.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by infracave View Post
    Well, I think the chant repertoire was "standardized" for the first time under Charlemagne, giving birth to what we know as gregorian chant.

    I don't think, however, that there has been any coercitive measures employed by the Church. That is before Trent and the infamous Index.
    Anyways, if you have some references on the subject off the top of your head, i'd be interested.
    No, just a couple of early centuries of heavy-handed control and then nothing I know of before Trent.

    What greater comfort does time afford than the objects of terror re-encountered and their fraudulence exposed in the flash of reason?
    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    Basil Valentine

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Here is an interesting paper on the Renaissance era over time.

    https://digitalcommons.cedarville.ed...ship_symposium
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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