Music, Style and Society
The supplanting of the so-called ars perfecta, the equal-voice polyphony of the late Renaissance, by the selfconsciously expressive vocal and instrumental music of the ‘second practice’, which happened about 1600, is one of the clearest watersheds in the history of Western music. This fundamental change in style does not appear to have been led significantly by the kinds of cultural, demographic or geographical forces and conditions to which this series of books is primarily devoted, but rather came from within music itself, with encouragement from its nearest sister art, poetry. Most music historians now view this great style shift as the final bloom of Italian humanism, ‘the main force for renewal in all the arts’ during the late Renaissance,1 the direct result of the search for ever more radical ways of setting expressive poetry. But whether the second practice was also a product of the Zeitgeist, the Mannerist movement in art, architecture and literature, is as debatable as the concept of Mannerism itself.
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Music Drama Musical Style Instrumental Music Opera House
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