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MUP 435Advanced Conducting

Renaissance Stylistic Considerations


Polyphonic, linear textures, equal vocal lines

a. Overlapping points of imitations
b. Paired voices


Rhythmically sophisticated counterpoint


Use of fewer modes; slow move toward major and minor tonality


Melody influenced by Gregorian chant

a. Liturgical and profane cantus firmi


Long arched phrases must have rhythmic interest, yet maintain restraint.


Conjunct melodic movement


Controlled dissonance; examine the placement of dissonance.


Text is important to formal consideration


Non-metered Rhythms
a. A metrical accent must not be on the first beat of the measure.
b. Stress is determined by the text; rhythmic flow also tied to the text.


Principal forms included secular canons, rondeaux, and chansons, also liturgical
music, motets, masses, and psalm settings.


Motivic development and repeated thematic material provided a unifying

element to the form.


Word painting, or representative music, illustrated the text


Variety of textures
a. Paired voices usually in thirds or sixths
b. Attained by contrasting high and low vocal registers
c. Passages of block chords in the midst of polyphony.


Tempo and Rhythm

a. Standard pulse based on the human heartbeat or pace of normal
walking (M.M. 60-80).
b. Tempo influenced by the text.
c. Tempo does not appreciably vary during a section of a work.
d. Syllabic sections may often be taken slightly faster than polyphonic
e. Polyphonic sections should not be too slow--impede the linear flow.
f. Ritards should be avoided.


Conducting Pattern
a. Most scores in 4/4 should be conducted in 2.


Pitch Level
a. You may want to shift the pitch up as high as a min. 3rd.


a. Should be kept with the mood of the text.
b. No dynamics were written in the score
c. forte and piano are used only to contrast complete sections and are
never applied suddenly within a phrase.
d. Contrasts in dynamics are built in to the music by adding to the
number of voice parts.


Melodic Considerations
a. Diatonic and chromatic lines are sung legato.
b. Skips are most often separated, especially large skips.
c. Consecutive skips in the same directions are rare.
d. Large skips tend to be resolved by stepwise motion in the opposite
e. Octaves and sixths are common.
f. Faster notes are performed lightly and clearly.
g. Syncopated notes approached from above are sung smoothly.
h. Ascending intervals larger than a second are accented
i. Notes tied across barlines in modern editions are given no accent and
should be sung as if no barlines were there.
j. Each line has a focal point to which it moves and from which it flows
away. Arsis and thesis
k. A slight increase in sonority is appropriate at final cadences.

l. Music often began and ended on perfect intervals

m. Cadences are often plagal or phrygian.

a. Clarify of each moving part is of primary importance.
b. Suspensions should receive slightly more emphasis than its
resolution. Lean into suspended note.
c. Suspensions should have a slight growth in the tone; no accent
d. Secular music can be doubled by instruments.
e. Instruments used in church festivals
f. A dry hall will require increased volume and faster tempos.


Tone Quality
a. Well-focused with minimal vibrato
b. Mixed of tenors and altos in interior parts.
c. There were 12-24 singers in the Papal Court.


Check original manuscript or collected works

Evaluating the original mensural signatures in manuscripts will help you decide
which rhythmic value is intended to represent the tactus/beat.